Sunday, May 30, 2010

Indian Summer

Critic Issue 13 - Num Nums

Indian Summer is my new favourite Indian restaurant. The cool floor to ceiling glass windowed restaurant front gives the place a comfortable casual-chic feel, making it the kind of place that you could just pop in for quick, casual meal on a whim, but also where you would think going for a special occasion. The genuinely polite, friendly, exemplary service shown by Ram and his staff is especially noteworthy because while the service at most establishments is generally polite, I am rarely struck by service that feels instantly sincere and unpretentious.

While exploring the detailed menu, which has useful little symbols identifying items that are vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, gluten free and contain nuts (makes no difference to me, but I had never seen that before and thought it was pretty awesome), I noticed that they offered a few items that I have never seen on other menus, which makes Indian Summer a little more interesting. In the five minutes that I took to decide what to order, D sneakily inhaled the entire lovely, mango-y, yogurt-y, super thick ‘Mango Lassi’ drink that I ordered. Ram noticed the offence and brought me another ‘Mango Lassi’, but D downed that one too. We started with the ‘Vegetarian Platter’ which comprised of samosas, pakoras, onion bhajis and tandoori mushrooms. I particularly enjoyed the delectable, juicy, vermillion orange coloured tandoori mushrooms. The pakoras and onion bhajis were tasty, light, and crispy, unlike the sometimes thick and doughy varieties found elsewhere, and we really liked the delicious, refreshing, light mint chutney that accompanied the platter.

On Ram’s recommendation (I would never have ordered it otherwise because I have never liked any Kadai curry anywhere else), I had the ‘Kadai Prawns’ (prawns cooked with sautéed onions, capsicum, tomatoes, cumin & coriander seeds and finished with lemon juice & fresh coriander) which was amazing and unquestionably the best Kadai I have ever tasted. The sauce had a certain depth and flavour that I can’t put my finger on, the ingredients tasted fresh, the capsicums were firm and crunchy (the vegetables in curries are often mushy at other places) and the decent sized prawns were nice and springy. I could not get enough of it. We also savoured the beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth tender pieces of lamb, in the blissfully rich, smooth but not sickeningly creamy spinach sauce that was the ‘Saag Lamb’ (a spinach based sauce tempered with fenugreek, ginger and garlic). This too, was the best Saag that I have tasted. At that point, we were in a state of prandial euphoria. Our third curry was the tasty, chunky ‘Chana Masala’ which is made with whole, firm, chick peas cooked with onion, garlic, ginger and spices. The curries were served with rice and on top of that, we had some ‘Garlic Naan’. Needless to say, we were very happily satiated.

If the fantastic service, pleasant ambience and great food weren’t reasons enough to keep me going back, I also noticed that after the meal, I did not experience any curry reflux (as is often the unpleasant but inevitable consequence of eating curry) or lingering aftertaste. Indian Summer must be doing something different because for the first time ever, I walked away from having a curry filled meal with a clean feeling palate (and esophagus), not groaning or feeling sick from ‘too-much-curry-itis’. Absolutely brilliant!

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