In an area of the city centre dominated by fried chicken shops, it’s more than refreshing to come across authentic food. Don’t get me wrong, fried chicken is great… unless you want something remotely healthy. Or if you’re not a meat eater… Okay, fried chicken may be overrated. So coming across a wonderful venue with an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu, that’s incredible. On that note, we’d like to introduce Gabbar. The Setting Tucked away on Merrion Street, it’s easy to look past the simple yellow signage, but walk through the doors and up the winding staircase and you’ll be beckoned in by the sweet smell of perfume, and the allure of a thousand spices. The setting is perfect, but a complete juxtaposition of styles. It’s Bollywood inspired art surrounded by Tudor beams, Victorian chandeliers overhead and blue LEDs around the walls. All of this is accompanied by Bollywood soundtracks which slowly seep into your skin, creating a bubble of atmosphere which you can enjoy your meal in. The Menu The menu is long and your choices feel nearly endless, on first glance, we were a tad intimidated by it. Fortunately the staff were more than willing to guide us through it, providing not only knowledge but also a real sense of passion about the food they’re serving. We went early enough in the day that the service we received was highly personalised and attentive. We learned how Gabbar evolved from being a bar which served food to a restaurant which served perfectly paired beers and wines with your meal. We were advised that 3 or 4 dishes each would be about right, and we found that it was more than enough for us! The biggest challenge for us would always be that one of our group is a true carnivore, but with an open mind, we dove in. The Gabbar Chaat, Vada Pav, and Crispy Okra Fries, all of which were rich, smoky and subtly spicy. The Gabbar Chaat was our favourite, with its bright colours and heady flavours. Then, just as we were going into sensory overload, the mains came. Here we had two more sumptuous dishes brought to our table. For a die-hard carnivore they recommended the Paneer Chilli, with the cheese mimicking a meat. We then added the Gobi Manchurian for a touch of spice. Being given the choice between mild, medium and hot allowed us to avoid the dreaded heat induced tears. We opted to go with medium – we like to think we know our limits. Thank goodness for that, because the kick of the Gobi Manchurian was out of this world. We would love to tell you that we also sampled some of the fabulous desserts on offer, but sadly, we were defeated by the first two courses. So next time we go, and there will be a next time, we’ll let you know just how well the desserts go down. Stepping outside again… Was a decidedly weird experience, but the bubble had to burst eventually, we suppose. As we made our way back onto Merrion Street the traffic noise flooded back in and we were left with only the happily full feeling in our bellies. We can’t wait to go back to this hidden gem, but we bet it won’t stay hidden for long.