It seems logical that since I live on the East Side, only a couple minutes from Hope Village, and love to eat out, I should have tried all of my neighborhood restaurants. But, the almost nine months I've resided in Providence have flown by and there are still many great dining establishments I have yet to try: Chez Pascal, Ran Zan, Pizzico, Rasoi. So, on Wednesday Andy and I decided to branch out of our Hope Street favorites and try India.
I really like the decor. The bar is beautiful and the fake candle lamps that surround the top give a nice soft glow to the place that makes it warm and inviting and the booth was cozy. We chose India mainly because of their weekly dining special. Monday-Thursday they have a fixed-price menu for $35 that includes a bottle of wine, an appetizer for two, and two entrees. For wine you can choose Merlot, Chardonnay, or White Zinfandel. Not being a fan of either three of these, I was a little nervous to commit to drinking an entire bottle. But we ordered the Merlot and hoped for the best.
A bottle of Corbett Canyon arrived:
Corbett Canyon also sells boxed wine, so the brand isn't one I am going to attempt to acclaim. But, this wine was smooth and generic enough to not be offensive and was drinkable. The food most definitely (and rightfully so) out-shined the wine.
For our appetizer, we chose the mixed kabobs (instead of the vegetarian option or the mussels):
Normally, this dish comes with one chicken, one lamb, and one shrimp kabob. Andy and I aren't huge fans of lamb, so we requested two chicken kabobs instead. I really liked this appetizer. The char-grilled chicken was flavorful and moist, and had a perfectly crisped outside. The mint and cilantro dipping sauce was light, but lended a good flavor kick to the kabobs. The papadum was more than just "generously peppered" as the menu suggests, and I welcomed the spicy burst the peppercorns gave my mouth. The salad hiding underneath the papadum had cucumbers, chick peas, green peppers, onion and cilantro and had a clean taste that was welcomed after eating the lentil wafer.
For my entree, I had the vegetable and tofu biryani:
I love the presentation. You can see all the ingredients that simmered with the rice peeking out, and the bowl of yogurt sauce pressed into the mold adds to its character. This biryani was less rice, and more delicious filling- exactly how I like it. Each bite had tofu, pineapple, raisins, cashews, cilantro and veggies and a small bit of grain for texture and substance. There was also a strong lavender spice to the dish which I found refreshing and interesting. It helped tone down the sweetness and cleanse the palate in between bites.
Andy had the Jalfrezi chicken curry, a type of curry I had never heard of or seen on a menu before:
It is made with lots of vegetables like peppers, onions, and mushrooms and has a stronger cumin spice (and no cream) to it than most other curries I've tried. It was a flavorful light alternative to my personal favorite curry, Masala.
Admittedly, I am not an expert on the traditions of Indian cuisine, and during my research of India I found a lot of reviewers liked the restaurant, but were quick to say its dishes weren't authentic. For this review, I am relying simply on my knowledge of good food, atmosphere, service, and value- and India had all of this. I thought the price was great, the portions perfect, and the food was fresh, well prepared and tasty. We also had great service! The waiter was shocked when I mentioned this was our first time at India, and after leaving I told him to be shocked if we don't come back.