So much has changed in Melbourne since the pandemic that it is a relief to see the places like Flora don't change, It still offers a cheap and cheerful Indian meal. The food is good and fast, the staff are pleasant, and there are plenty of seats. Just don't expect any mood lighting. It has been part of the landscape opposite Flinders Street Station since 2001.
Going to Flora feels comfortable. We order at the front counter. You would think by now that I would know exactly what I want but I usually need 5 minutes to decide. Do I have the Small Combo or the Large Combo? Do I have rice or rotis with my curries? Or do I go fancy with a Kashmiri Naan? Or is today the day for the Dosa meal with the iddly and vada? It is a tyranny of choices!
I often have one of the Small Combos which, as well as rice or roti, come with 1 non-veg curry, 1 veg curry and 1 daal. This means walking along to the bain marie to make more decisions on which curries. Of course for us vegetarians the non-veg curry becomes a veg curry. It usually involves a chat with the staff about what is vegetarian and how spicy is each curry.
Our meal is served on a tray, cafeteria style, which we then take to a table. Once our meal is sorted then we get the cutlery, serviettes and cups of water from the serve-yourself shelves. There are soft drinks and beers and lassis to drink but water is usually all I need.
Another time I got a Dosa Combination. This is a masala dosa - curry potato in a thin crispy pancake made from fermented rice and lentils - which is served with an iddly (a steamed rice cake), vada (fried savoury snack) sambar and coconut chutney. I can't remember what the scoop on top was - maybe a thick yoghurt.
This is my most recent meal a few months ago for E's birthday. I really liked the green bean and potato curry but can't remember that others. The roti was good. But then we all had bread and wanted rice so I ordered a bowl of rice which they sent over quickly. It was lovely despite some of the curries being a bit spicy for me.
I loved this poster on the hoardings outside Flora. It has been in the midst of a building site for the last few years, as it is quite close to the new Town Hall underground station that is being built as part of our second underground loop of stations. (When I was travelling in Europe and told people we only had 3 underground stations in Melbourne it seemed piddly but give us a few years and a lot of upheaval and we will be proud to have 5 new underground stations!) I hope that once it is built it will bring even more people to Flora to compensate for years of pandemic and building works. They deserve it for hanging in there for us and continuing to serve their excellent Indian food.
Flora Indian Restaurant
238A Flinders Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Open daily for lunch and dinner