When you look at the menu and see nearly two dozen vegetarian entrees, most of them vegan, you realize you’re heading into some truly veg-friendly territory. Such is the case at India Garden. As you might expect in an Indian restaurant, there are lots and lots of options. We sampled a few appetizer ones in the Vegetable Samosas (crispy turnovers with spiced potatoes and peas) and Kashmiri Naan. The latter was a flaky pastry-like confection stuffed with cherries, raisins, coconut and almonds that reminded me of marzipan. I could have eaten an entire one all by myself I think, but tried to be polite and share with my husband, Sean, (there, now I’ve gone and “outed” him) and AY (who will continue to remain anonymous). The Kashmiri Naan was served with raita, which on first suggestion does not sound like a good pairing, but which actually turned out to be an excellent slightly-sour complement to the very sweet appetizer.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was very, very quiet. Which made it all the more unsettling when Sean made a punny funny and AY responded with a punny funny of his own that left us all convulsing with giggles. Why couldn’t that have happened in one of the many noisier places we’ve reviewed?!? It took us a couple of minutes to compose ourselves, while I tried desperately not to snort raita out my nose. (You’ll be happy to know I succeeded.)
AY – I really enjoyed my experience at India Garden. I have been there before and wasn’t very impressed, but this time there was something different. First off, the overall ambiance of the place was different. I may be wrong but it looked like the bar was in a different location than before and they added more booths to the seating area. It made for more of a cozy, quiet environment . . . a place you have a romantic dinner with that special someone. The wait staff were not overly friendly, but efficient.
We all were happy with the appetizers (as Scoops mentioned). The Samosas, which are a ubiquitous item on India restaurant menus, were great (not too spicy); and the Kashmiri Naan (not a common menu item) was a real treat. The Kashmiri Naan was like having dessert before the main course . . . so much so that I didn’t even order dessert.
For the main course I had Matter Paneer which is a combination of peas, paneer and tomatoes cooked in a light seasoned sauce. I chose mild (of course), but there were options for medium, medium hot, and hot. They also offered a vegan version of this popular dish without the paneer (fresh cheese cubes). With all of the entrees they serve fragrant Basmati rice, which is a staple on India restaurant menus. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and would recommend this establishment for those who enjoy East Indian cuisine. The vegan variation of the classic vegetarian dishes sets India Garden apart from the usual.
I had one of my favorite vegan entrees: Vegetable Patia. The item is billed as being made with fresh vegetables, mango sauce, ginger, garlic, and scallion among other herbs. I could get behind all but the “fresh” vegetables part. While I have had this dish many times (only at India Garden and their sister restaurant, Cinnamon Kitchen), I was pretty disappointed with this iteration. Normally the vegetables are just a bit al dente (to mix a metaphor), but this time the veggies tasted overcooked to the point that it was hard not to assume they came out of a can. Again, I’ve had this dish before here and raved about it, so I’m going to chalk it up to an off-night (or possibly new management, but I’m hoping that’s not why). Sean had the Mushroom Matter, which was better than mine, I thought–the vegetables seemed less canned (maybe frozen?), and was definitely spicy. My other fave dishes here are Vegetable Korma and Malai Kofta, but I just didn’t feel like something as heavy as either one of those two delicious dishes…
…mainly so I could leave room for dessert! I am addicted to the Kulfi: pistachio ice cream with almonds and rose water. I love this stuff, particularly after making the mistake of ordering my food “medium” and forgetting that the Indian version of medium and my version of medium are two completely different things. Nothing cools off a scorched mouth better than sweet, creamy pistachio ice cream, particularly when it looks like this: