Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Masala Art: Nice local Indian

Michael and I dropped into Masala, only a few blocks from home, in the middle of a day of errands to check it out for lunch. What we found was very pleasing.

Michael is, rightfully, suspicious of Indian restaurants with buffets as these often are a dumping ground otherwise uninspired cooking. But at $9.50, we figured we had little to lose.

The space is clean and attractive although the layout is a bit awkward, perhaps due to the need to reserve enough space in the back for the buffet tables. We were initially shown to a table near the buffet (which is in a relatively dark and spare section of the restaurant) but when we hesitated were cheerfully ushed to another table closer to the front.

In fact, we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of what we ate. Perhaps one positive is that the restaurant did not try to create 20 different dishes, all badly. What we had was, in addition to the usual rice, a ground-lamb-and-lentil dish (tasty), a curried chicken (delicate…not nearly as spicy as I would have wished, but otherwise good), a lentil dal (no complaints), something with cauliflower and peas (normally I hate cauliflower, but I went back for seconds on this one), and a very rich spinach dish…I suspect much ghee included. In addition there was a table with ingredients for a salad and toppings for the various dishes, a bowl of raita, and some Indian rice pudding (kheer) for dessert. Fresh naan was delivered to the table (and replenished).

I would say the food tended toward the delicate rather than robust, but it was all delicious and of course you can’t beat the price. We intend to revisit the restaurant in the evening and see what the menu has to offer, as a buffet doesn’t really show off the ability of the kitchen.

Another very useful place within walking distance of our house…things are looking up!

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