Garuva has long been known as a romantic, cosy, sort of ‘sexy’ spot. I always used to bug D to take me there. “It smells like hippies,” he would grunt, and then shove me in the direction of the nearest Eagle Boys.
I kid, I kid. He’s a Dominos man. Plus, he’s wrong – Garuva doesn’t smell like our barefooted friends at all. I found out because I went there recently – with my FRIENDS, not with my BOYFRIEND. Sure enough, when we were led through the darkened entrance way into the dining area, I was fuming. “It is romantic! It is sexy! Why have you not taken me there!” I squawked later at D.
Garuva is indeed perfect for couples, but it’s also fun in a group. It’s true novelty dining – each table is private, with a little curtain that is drawn around. The result is rows of little tents in a large room, and one little A-dawg getting quite lost as she wanders around.
So, the little tents are very cool. What isn’t so cool is the seating. Keeping in with the exotic, I’m-eating-on-the-banks-of-the-Nile approach, you sit on the floor on cushions. This would be great for two people. For seven incredibly rowdy people in their twenties, some with abnormally long legs? A little squishy. Make that, really bloody annoying. Larger spaces for larger groups would be fantastic at Garuva.
On to the cocktails – these are pictured in no particular order. My first cocktail was the After Dinner Drink (Kahlua, crème de methe, crème de cacoa blended with milk, cream, ice and portion of Aero peppermint bar, $16). My friend got a Garuva Martini (Chambord, cointreau and cranberry juice, $16). Both drinks were tasty, but – this is where I disgust myself – I was expecting mine to be a lot sweeter and richer tasting.
The favourite of the night was the Garuva Grabber (Mango liqueur and peach schnapps blended with milk, cream and mango pulp, $16). This again was not as creamy or rich as expected, although it was sweet with a fruity kick.
I had heard very good things about Garuva’s cocktails, and most of them were tasty, but I think they skimped on the ingredients a bit. Have you ever heard of a Pina Colada with no rum (Garuva’s is listed on the menu as having Malibu, coconut cream and pineapple juice)? Sorry, but Malibu does not really suffice. They were also very weak, which wasn’t surprising given that most of them didn’t have spirits in them, just liquers. The bar area, however, is awesome; dark and cosy, with an exotic Eastern feel.
The food menu is Asian-influenced, and offers simple dishes that are well priced. We started with Cob bread and Babaganoush (pictured above, $5). This was a bit disapointing – the bread was essentially ordinary bread rolls, and the Babaganoush did not have even a hint of an eggplant flavour. It tasted more like hummus.
Our mains came out and we were pleased with the generous sizes. I ordered the Singapore Vegetables (pictured above, wok steamed vegetables with oyster sauce and lemongrass, served with glass noodles, $23). No real complaints with this dish – the vegies were varied and flavourful.
Other dishes ordered around the table included the Chicken Karaage (Japanese style deep fried chicken accompanied with dipping sauce, $23), and Lamb Curry (Braised lamb shanks with spicy curry sauce, $23). Most of my friends’ dishes were really, really meaty – as in, just meat + rice (as pictured above). We had a chicken dish that I can’t remember the name of (bad blogger), which was tasty with very tender chicken, but the Lamb Curry was disapointing. The meat was very tough and over-cooked, and seemed to be a cheap cut. The Chicken Karaage got the thumbs up around the table, but the meal in its entirety would be a bit a bit sickly for most tastes – it was essentially fried chicken on a bed of rice, with a sweet sauce. (My peeps could handle it though. Arteries of steel.)
Service throughout the night was excellent – friendly and swift. While the meals at Garuva are very average, it’s definitely worth a visit just for the experience. It’s very cool, funky, exotic and unique – and YES, it is slightly ROMANTIC (D are you hearing me).
Garuva Hidden Tranquility
Restaurant & Bar
324 Wickham St
Fortitude Valley (note: the doorway is hard to find – keep your eye out)
(07) 3216 0124