Disappointment in the South Loop

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Basmati lust. That is a term a friend from high school came up with to describe our insatiable cravings for Indian food. Spicy curry, naan bread, samosas, mango lassis... I can't get enough! But I definitely did have enough of India Grill. Words cannot describe how excited I was when India Grill opened its doors in the South Loop; there aren't many Indian places around the loop, especially the South Loop. However, my expectations were way too high.

India Grill looks impeccable and expensive, something that is also unusual for the South Loop. When my friend Duncan and I walked into India Grill at 6pm on a Wednesday, we were the only people there. Its fancy appearance might be off-putting to the Columbia College students leaving from their nearby classes looking for a cheap meal. Hungry, we sat down right away to order dinner. I ordered Navrattan Korma, a traditional vegetable dish in a creamy sauce along with some buttered naan. Duncan ordered a curry of beans and lentils and of course we wanted rice. These two vegetarian dishes were very reasonable, I believe only $8.99. I took note that most dishes containing chicken or lamb were around $12.

When our food arrived, I was kind of shocked. Both of our curries were more like soup; extremely watered down, thin and runny. As I spooned the Navrattan Korma onto my plate, I was even more dismayed to see the vegetables in it were nothing more than the frozen vegetable medley that you get at the grocery store. You know, the chopped green beans, corn, and diced carrots that were a staple of elementary school hot lunches. I could tell that the dish had potential, the flavor was quite nice. I can only imagine how delicious it could have been, had it not been watered down to nothing and chock full of thawed, flavorless veggies. The same goes for Duncan's dish, the beans and lentils were just floating in what was basically a runny broth. It's a shame, I wanted this place to be a hit! But, unfortunately it lacked the flavor and richness that is what makes me love Indian food so much. That aside, I do have to say that the naan bread was delicious, golden and baked perfectly. The only true upside to this meal.

As if I couldn't be any more shocked, when we got our bill we found that our plate of rice was not included in our meal and was an additional $5.99. From my personal experience, any place that charges extra for rice has hardly been worth it. Most times it is included, and they only charge you a small fee if you request an extra portion. At least at another Indian restaurant I went to, they told me in advance that rice would cost extra. And I can even understand a couple dollars, sure. But $5.99... I repeat, not worth it. No wonder the thousands of other twenty-somethings in the area seem to be avoiding this place. It is expensive and not rightfully so. Maybe it was just a bad day, a new cook, or some other excuse. This is entirely possible, but I don't know if I will be going back to shell out $11.99 on their buffet just to give them a second chance.

In today's review:

India Grill
1112 S. Wabash Ave.
Tel: (312) 662-1111


Mike G. said...

why would they use frozen vegetables? that sucks