May 2009 Archives

Indian Cuisine
By Lydia on May 18, 2009 2:29 PM| | Comments (6)
"Oppressive" may seem an odd word to describe a room designed to mimic a sidewalk cafe, but it comes to mind when shivering in Eastown's newest Indian restaurant, the straightforwardly named Indian Cuisine. Gloomy and chill, the space is a holdover from Chez Bayou, a confusing creole joint that took all of a few months to die, and it retains all of its Epcot-French quarter kitsch. I beg you not to read this contradiction as quaint, but rather the perfect decor to highlight all the failings of a slapdash operation: fake food, fake surroundings.

Indian Cuisine, ostensibly an "authentic" south Indian restaurant, brings to mind Indian food, done like the Chinese we get in America: gluey, one dimensional, and (theoretically) the same thing you would get at any crappy Indian place in the country. Or, it almost perfectly recalls the foil pouches of curry you get at Meijer and heat in boiling water for a disappointing, but economical meal. Unfortunately, the dishes at Indian Cuisine will set you back $11-14 insead of $2.99. Add a nan or two at $2.50 a piece, and you are looking at a pricey meal.

After a long wait at the door (Yes, I timed it. It was just under 2 minutes) trying to get someone's attention, my boyfriend and I were seated in the empty French Quarter. It was rather eerie, and sound tended to echo, making the atmosphere uneasy. I ordered some veggie pakoras right off the bat, and then a fish curry with coconut milk and a lamb vindaloo. The waiter asked us how hot we wanted them "on a scale of one to ten," which always makes me nervous, because what is anyone's 10? I mean, I like things spicy, my tastebuds are used to spice, but I don't want it "Indian hot" like some friends from the subcontinent. I tried to deduce what system the kitchen uses; Indian spicy or Midwestern spicy, and the waiter told us that we should get everything at a 10, because its "not that hot. More like a 7" Well, ok, I am no sissy baby.

The pakoras, out first, were decent, though a few were unpleasantly oil-soaked. They only vegetable in them was onion, and while I like onion pakoras, I thought they could have been less misleadingly described on the menu. The accompanying chutneys were a run of the mill cilantro-mint, and a too-sweet tamarind that tasted a bit too much like ketchup.

Curry-wise, things went downhill fast. The food was too hot. I overheard the server later telling a table that he tries to make customers "push the envelope." Well, that's just irresponsible. Why try to make people eat something that will hurt them? Do you think you know what they need better than they do? The vindaloo was hot, and it was sweet, but it wasnt much else. More than anything it was like a few pieces of fatty lamb swimming in a bad BBQ sauce. The fish curry wasn't much better, being hot, and coconut-creamy, but not much else. The fish, some sort of cod, I think, almost seemed reconstituted it was so oddly textured.

We are experiencing a sort of glut of Indian in GR right now. Bad food at high prices just isn't going to cut it. In fact, if anyone is really tempted to go to Indian Cuisine maybe you can just pay me $45 a couple and I'll make you way better Indian right at home.