Monday, April 6, 2009

Masala Western

Bug and I enjoy Indian food and actively seek out new places to try. After reading Cara's description of India Garden on her blog, A Girl About Cleveland, we were excited to check this place out.

India Garden was good, but we don't plan on returning.

That was rather abrupt, wasn't it? Of course, I mean no offense to Cara's recommendation.

This is the run-down of our experience...

Buffet starts at 12:00 p.m. We arrived at 12:45 p.m. There was a 10-minute wait to be seated since the restaurant was full.

The good:
- From the outside, the restaurant looks a lot smaller and very plain. Once you walk in, the deep tones are very relaxing and the spongepad yellow walls brightened the place. The woven gold placemats atop white tablecloth under glass was very pretty.
- The variety of dishes.
- Pans were well stocked most of the time.
- The service was good considering how busy people were filling stations, water, and clearing plates.
- The price was good for the most part. $8.95 for brunch buffet. The mango lassi was $2.95 for a small glass.

The bad:
- What they didn't have available. This is more personal taste, but papadum was unavailable. Bug was a very sad panda.
- Some dishes were really overcooked.
- Lack of warmth. It's hard to be warm when it's busy...some people can pull of an aura of sincerity in the midst of a blizzard, some can't.
- No Indian diners.

The ugly:
- The patrons were obnoxious. That is not the fault of the restaurant. I know it isn't. I still don't have to subject myself to several tables of people yammering loudly on the cell phone either.
- Some diners were so grating, it was actually funny. "Oh, hi! I didn't know you ate here!" Air hug-hug, kiss-kiss. Good grief. *roll eyes*
- Nothing ugly about the restaurant itself though! :)

The offerings...
The lentil soup was sour, so it wasn't my cup o' soup.

The pickles packed a nice punch of heat and sourness. I love them.

Nan was nan.

I am not a big fan of samosas since they tend to be dry. The batch that was just brought out fresh was still dry, as to be expected. Between samosa and pakora, I prefer pakora. No pakora.

The curry selection was chicken curry, goat curry, and a vegetarian one - I forgot. My best recollection of the veggie curry description was garlic, onion, more garlic, and onions. I steered clear. The goat curry was well spiced. I think the previous diners took all meat. It was soup and bones when I got to it. lol

I took a bite from Bug's tandoori chicken and found it to be bland.

The rice was awful. A fresh batch was crunchy and chewy.

Carrot halwah, rice pudding, and that other orange thing shaped like a gigantic pressed powdered orzo in honey were delicious. The carrot halwah had a good amount of nuts. The rice pudding had a light flavor and great consistency - I think it's because the rice was crushed. I like the light syrup that came with that disc.

The tea was okay. I've had better. The cloves made it a fine end to a meal, but it was watered down. I'm used to drinking it with a little more texture and depth.

I like the spice level. Not too spicy to require a gallon of water, but enough to know you're still alive.

Having seen pictures of India Garden, I had to give Cara a warning when I suggested India's Cafe to her -- it is not as pretty as India Garden. Having been to India's Garden, I almost feel that upon walking in to India's Cafe, for many, their minds would be made up. India's Cafe looks like a kitchen; however, as far as flavor, soul, and better mango lassi go, they are the best Indian in Cleveland. While this may sound weird, I actually enjoy eating where I'm surrounded by Indian people and the owner gives off the vibe like you're eating at his home.

This made me realize how subjective a restaurant experience can be based on past experiences. Many sensations contribute to what forms that lasting impression from the sketch you have in your mind prior to stepping out of the house. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the food.

- Cassaendra

India Garden
18405 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 221-0676

India's Cafe
5549 Ridge Rd
Cleveland, OH 44129
(440) 842-7724

0 deep thoughts:

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