‘Indian fusion’ grill goes where naan has gone before

Ash Mathon, centre, co-owner of the new Warraich Bar & Grill, with chefs Vipin Gopal, right, and Shrijeet Mondal.

Cathy Dobson

Sarnia’s newest Indian restaurant has two traditional tandoor ovens and goat curry on the menu, but there are some very non-traditional features too.

“Menu choices and restaurant design differ depending on the location,” explains franchise co-owner Ash Mathon.

He and business partner Harman Gill opened the Warraich Bar & Grill on Lambton Mall Road less than a month ago.

Warraich is a Brampton-based franchise with 64 locations in Canada. Unlike some franchises that require complete uniformity, Warraich allows for local variety.

For instance, Mathon has added “Fusion Indian Cuisine” to his restaurant’s name and offers menu items like butter chicken poutine. It’s a dish of French fries served with rich butter chicken gravy for $7.

“I’m going to add a couple more choices that are Canadian/Indian mix ups,” said Mathon.  “Our Sarnia customers love that.”

On the other hand, Warraich Bar & Grill has many authentic Indian choices including pani puri ($6 appetizer with potato, spicy mint and coriander water), or goat curry ($16 for goat meat cooked in a thick seasoned sauce), or chana masala ($12 for chickpeas slow cooked with ginger, garlic and tomato).

The restaurant has table seating for 70 and a fully stocked bar. Cocktails with an Indian twist include the Tandoori Tequila cocktail and an Indian Passion Mojito (both $9).

There’s also a full roster of beers, including some from Sarnia’s Refined Fool microbrewery, and a wine selection.

Décor is modern and diners can watch through a large glass window as cooks use clay tandoor ovens to make traditional naan and various kinds of kabobs and tikka.

Mathon, 40, is originally from Delhi and has lived in Sarnia the past 11 years. Previously, he managed Esso truck stops at Reece’s Corners and on London Line and often hired Lambton College students.  He said that’s something plans to continue.

The new restaurant’s head chef, kitchen and wait staff all comes from the college, according to Mathon.

Chef Vipin Gopal and two other cooks were also trained by the Warraich franchise for six months before the Sarnia location opened.

Mathon said he spent several years searching for a business he could own and operate. Despite having no restaurant experience, he said he chose Warraich Bar & Grill simply because it was a good opportunity.

There’s a growing interest in Indian food here, he said.

“I think now is a good time for our restaurant because people are more educated about the spices and vegetables we use. The food is healthy and people are more health conscious.”

Warraich Bar & Grill is also introducing a new form of entertainment to Sarnia, starting this weekend. Every other Saturday at 10 p.m., Bollywood karaoke is featured with classic Hindi and Punjabi songs.

Mathon hopes that free Bollywood karaoke with drink and snack specials will provide a little stress relief.

“It’s my idea. Life is hectic and we all need to relax a little,” he said.  “Here, you can sing in any language.”

Warraich Bar & Grill at 1107 Lambton Mall Rd. is open six days a week. Closed Mondays.  Eat-in, take out and delivery are available. Call 519-491-0786.

 

Have a great business story idea?  Contact Cathy at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.