Monday, December 31, 2007

Review: Indian Garden (Chicago)

Indian garden entryway.jpg

Note: this also appears with my reviews over on Yelp.

Overall Impression:
Dinner at the Indian Garden can be a cool experience in a somewhat unique city setting. It isn't inexpensive, but the food is good and the service is a tad friendlier than what I have commonly experienced in some of Chicago's other Indian restaurants.

Indian Garden interior

Highlights / Lowlights:

What was great -

- The Entrees.
We enjoyed our entire meal, but the entrees were the best part. My wife had the Chef's Special Murg Tikka Masala and I had the Chef's Special Jai Puri Aloo, both over the Kesari Pulav. Ridiculously tasty. The kind of delicious that triggers one's "just keep shoveling that good stuff into your food hole" reflex. Being in public, we worked to restrain ourselves and maintain the appropriate sense of decorum.

Indian garden entrees

What wasn't so great -

- The "we're out of that" response
. Our reservation was for 7pm on a Saturday night (i.e., prime time). Yet they were out of one key appetizer (cashewnut rolls, which we've found to be excellent at their Devon location) and one key dessert (the pistachio kulfi). Kind of odd to be out of those things early on a weekend night. Hoping that next time we try this place they have those in stock.


Two Critical Questions

- Would I eat here again?

Absolutely. Devon is closer, but this is worth the occasional trip, especially in the winter. Valet adds $12 - $15 to your night, but that's not a bad price to pay to avoid the parking hassle and subsequent walk in the December/January elements involved in visiting Devon.

- Did it seem like a good value?
It's fair. Two appetizers, two entrees (leaving enough to wrap up so tomorrow's lunch is also covered), two rice dishes, naan, two desserts and three glasses of wine for ~$110. Good food in a nice room - seemed worth it to me.


Indian garden table setting

Food - Very good entrees, pretty good appetizers, solid dessert. The samosas seemed a little less than fresh, as the shell was just a touch too crispy, but the Aloo Tikka was nice. We really liked the gulab jamun, which was served hot -- our preference -- and wasn't overly sweet and syrupy - well done. The mango kulfi came out ice-cube frozen, but with patience the softened state kulfi was very tasty.

Service - Solid and friendly. We were initially greeted by a man who seemed to be either the manager or possibly part of the ownership team. He looked snappy in a nice dark suit and provided a very graceful welcome once we mounted the mountain-goat-steep staircase leading up to the dining room. Later, a woman who appeared also to be part of the ownership team was doing rounds of the dining room, chatting up guests. The table behind us in particular got a lot of love, but she spread it around pretty well, checking in on everyone. And our service team was just a little friendlier than what we've experienced on Devon, where the servers can often come off as all-business and prioritize efficiency over the warm fuzzies.


Indian garden bar area

- Sophisticated, but comfortable. Soft, dim lighting. Dark walls, ornate chairs. Nice elevated perspective with the second floor view of Ontario St. Only thing a bit out of place are the plastic table coverings. I understand the practicality of it, but every time I went to pick up my wine the bottom of the glass stuck to the table for just a second. Kind of disconcerting amidst the smoothness the rest of the experience delivers.

Valet parking - $12 is a little steep where $10 seems the norm, but it's not outrageous. Know that you will need to find the valets over by their home base at Ron of Japan, then double back over to Indian Garden.

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