Monday, July 18, 2011

India Cafe [5/5]

India Cafe


A quick and friendly reminder: Head over to this post to vote on where next week's one year celebratory meet up should be held!

A reader by the name of Earth wrote in noting that I hadn't yet reviewed any Indian restaurants and suggesting that I stop by India Cafe on Whitesburg. It was an astute observation. I've only come to appreciate spicer foods in the last couple of years and had not yet branched out into Indian food. India Cafe was an excellent introduction.

The hubby and I stopped in for dinner one night as a prelude to running errands. The seating was a bit confusing because there is no obvious hostess stand and it appears to be an order-at-the-counter establishment. Which it is; during lunch. For dinner, guests are seated and given menus. The hubby picked up on this, while I obliviously headed for the counter. Once I got pointed in the right direction, we were shown a table and handed menus.

The dinner menu is expansive, allowing for a great variety of meats, sauces, and pairings. The lunch menu is a sleeker version of the same offerings, likely to expedite the heavy lunch crowd that the Airport and Whitesburg corner receives. We asked our server for recommendations before settling on the Chicken Tikka Masala for me, the Chicken Biryani for my hubby, and an order of Tandori Naan to share.

While we waited for our food, a basket of fried dough balls appeared at our table.

India Cafe


The appetizers featured a crispy exterior with a soft flavorful interior. The breading was studded with chunks of hot peppers which pushed it past my spice threshold. However the delightful lightness and the depth of flavor meant that I enjoyed them anyway. My husband thought that the spice level was just right and even enjoyed the accompanying creamy dipping sauce which kicked up the spiciness further.

At this point I was a little worried that my meal (which I has asked for to be medium, not too spicy) would be too much for me. Enough so that I asked at the counter to see how the dough balls would compare. They assured me that my meal would be fine.

India Cafe


Our food came out quickly and in deceptively small dishes. My tikka masala featured a rich, creamy tomato sauce deftly seasoned and just this side of my "way to spicy" boundary. The chicken, bright orange from absorbing the tomato sauce, was tender and paired with onions. The included rice was a thin, long grained rice which had cloves tucked into the bowl. The cloves infused the rice with a fragrant scent and a touch of flavor that harmonized wonderfully with the chicken and sauce. As a perk of having selected a dish where the rice was served on the side, I was able to regulate just how spicy each bite was by adjusting the meat/sauce to rice ratio.

India Cafe


The naan, cooked in a tandoor oven, was light and puffy. Thinner than pita bread, it had a flavor of yeast and wheat and reminded me somewhat of pizza crusts. Really delicious pizza crusts.

My husband greatly enjoyed his meal (shown in the image at top). The rice and chicken was flavorful and spiced to his taste. The dish was served with a coleslaw like side which included carrots, cabbage, onion, tomato, and cilantro in a thin sauce.

We greatly enjoyed our meal. The flavors of each dish were rich and well balanced and the portions incredibly generous. In addition to making a dinner out of our meals, I made some additional rice and had another three lunches. My husband's dish made for another two meals. The price had seemed a bit high for the casual diner-like atmosphere, but for 7 meals it became a bargain. (There is also something to be said for anything you can eat for 3 days straight and still wish you had more when you finish the last of it.) We will absolutely be back to continue our forays into Indian cuisine.

Total for the meal: $29.97 (Includes: Two entrees, one order of Naan, two soft drinks)


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16 comments:

  1. This looks good!
    I love Indian food, but for whatever reason, I usually cannot sleep after eating Indian (if not cooked at home). But that does not stop me! ;)

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  2. I read pretty much all your reviews and take them at face value. We seem to have very similar ideas when it comes to food. I place great value in your reviews. In this case though I'm going to have set this one aside till I can go eat there myself. From what I saw I'm more than a bit skeptical of the place. The dish you had is not one I would ever use to measure how good an Indian restaurant is as it's not even Indian but actually British. I do a lot of Indian cooking at home and I've done my research and think I have a very good idea of what is and is not good Indian. The only good Indian place I've eaten at in north Alabama is long out of Business and that was Spice of India. They got it right. Sitar and Taj Majal are both far to Americanized to me. I will put this place at the top of my list for when I have money and let you know what I think. It may be 5 out of 5 as a general restaurant but I measure ethnic places by how authentic they are. Why else eat there after all if you aren't wanting something very different.

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  3. After reading that review and posting my comment I went to the web page and looked at the menu. As soon as I did I knew I had looked at it a few days before and put on way down on the list of places to eat. It to me is a very very limited menu. It has only one of my favorite dishes on it, that being paneer. It doesn't have lamb rogan josh or dal makhani or chicken methi mushroom. There are no thali offerings at all. I will still keep it at the top of my list but I have a feeling this is one we are going to disagree on.

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  4. FatherPhoenix--As I stated in the review, this was my first experience with Indian food, so I can't vouch for the authenticity. If you do go check it out, I would be interested in your feedback. : )

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  5. We enjoy India Cafe very much. One of my favorites is the mango chicken. It is not always available at lunch though.

    My DH and I love Indian food in general and will cook it at home as well. I don't care for buffets in general and have stayed away from other Indian restaurants for that reason. India Cafe is high on my list when I crave spicy!

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  6. Hi Becky, Thanks for dropping by! I agree that I tend to avoid buffets since the food is never as good. I'll have to try the mango chicken, that sounds fabulous.

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  7. I'm so glad you found this place! I've only been to one Indian joint here in town and got so overwhelmed that I haven't been back .. but I loved the food! Now we've got a "beginner's" place to visit!

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  8. My husband and I have been to India Cafe twice for dinner. The Chicken Tikka is what I got both times (after enjoying that dish on a trip to London), and your review is right on the money, based on our experiences. The food is really good. I'm not a conoisseur of Indian food, so I can't vouch for authenticity, but for most of us around here who are newbies to Indian cuisine, this is a great place with tasty food. The service was unbearably slow the second time we went, but the proprietor(?) was apologetic and seemed to be training a new guy. I would recommend this place, and we'll be going back.

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  9. I've been here a few times and absolutely love it! I found it through restaurants.com - keep an eye out - they normally have coupons on there that make it cheaper....

    Now I'm craving naan bread and paneer...

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  10. Ari--You'll have to give me the inside scoop on using restuarants.com, they always seemed a bit sketchy to me.

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  11. Sarah--I definitely take issue with restaurants with too many choices. The hungrier I am the more of an issue I have with it. Sometimes, it's just too much for my poor brain to deal with!

    Anna--Thanks for weighing in. I'm glad to hear you also had a positive experience!

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  12. This place is thenonly Indian restaurant that serves dose and idli (south Indian cuisines) and are my favorite. However go try Indian Palace off 72. They have new ownership and new cooks. Their food is great and buffets are full of tasty varietys at a decent price. Look for group on and living socials coming soon for the restaurant.

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  13. I just discovered your site today. You reviewed "Hildegard's" which is owned and operated by a dear friend of mine and I greatly enjoyed your review!

    I love India Cafe and eat there frequently. The only caveat I would offer is that while the food is very good, the atmosphere is that of a doctor's waiting room. I wouldn't take anyone there on a dinner date. Lunch? Absolutely!

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  14. Suzanne--I agree that the atmosphere is not particularly inspiring.

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  15. Well I finally made it to India Cafe. The wife and I were in the area for a doctors appointment and we decided to give it a try. Normally I hate being wrong. In this case I'm very happy to be wrong. This is by far the best Indian place in the area. Even the lunch buffet was far more authentic than I could hope for. Delicious food well worth every penny.

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