Location – 4832 N. Broadway (Broadway and Lawrence)
In one word – Winner
Food – I have been wanting to try the Indian cuisine at Marigold for a while as a result of several recommendations from fellow eaters. Finally the day arrived! Surveying the menu, I saw all Indian standards with little modern twists added to spice up the dishes. A couple of the options stood out. For example, one of the specials was an pear stuffed with paneer (cheese), which was then put in the oven for a carmelized effect. My eating partner finished it so fast that I didn’t even have to ask her what she thought. The proof was the licked clean plate. I started with lamb kofta (Indian lamb meatballs) – very impressive. Then I had the murg makhani (chicken with a creamy tomato sauce). I found it cleaner and less greasy than the typical makhanis you get on Devon. My eating partner had the vegetarian thali (a hodge podge of vegetarian dishes). She seemed to really relish in the chili-flavored corn. We then went further and indulged in a ginger creme brulee. I wasn’t hungry, more curious for a bite. It was a standard creme brulee, but with the ginger, it had even more flavor.
Drink – We were just going to get a glass of wine, but then we saw the cocktail list. We got caught up with the idea of Limca (an Indian soda) and cucumber essence in our drinks, so we ordered the Limca-tini and the Rangpuraana. My eating partner and I learned a lesson – if you’re not a cocktail drinker, even Limca won’t help you. When we could only take two sips our drinks, our waiter took pity on us, relieved us of the glasses and didn’t charge us. That was very nice of him. We instead ordered a glass of the A to Z pinot noir (me) and the Garnacha (eating partner). That sufficed just fine with the spicy meal.
Service – Our server, Neil, was great and made us feel at home. He was jovial and knowledgeable about the menu. He advised us well (with the exception of the cocktails). At the end of the meal, it felt like we had a new friend in Neil.
Occasion – Being in Uptown, the vibe is hip and still casual. There seemed to be a lot of double dates here. I wore a cotton dress with leggings (and thought I looked cute). My eating partner wore her good jeans with a fun sweater. Guys were dressed in jeans, fun t-shirts and stylish caps. I made a note to myself to bring my parents here. I think they’ll like the down-to-earth/innovative combination of the place.
Cost – Three courses, plus wine, tax and tip brought us to $51 each. Was it worth it? I think so, particularly because we were treating it as a special occasion spot. It was my eating partner’s birthday.
If you like, try…Green Zebra, Flo
Location – 2548 W. Devon (Devon and Maplewood)
In one word – Chutneys
Food – You’ll get South Indian fare (vegetarian). The speciality of South Indian cuisine is the masala dosa (a crepe of sorts with seasoned potatoes). If you want to go with my favorite, get the paper masala dosa, even thinner and crispier. Beware, dosas are giant here. While I didn’t think that the dosas were that amazing (compared to its neighbor, Udapi Palace), the chutneys were notable. You are offered tamarind, mint and coconut chutneys in addition to sambar. All seemed fresh and were flavorful. We also ordered the appetizer sampler. I was not impressed by their offering of vadas (fried veggies) and samosas (potatoes in fried dough).
Drink – It’s BYOB. But often I like to order a mango lassi (thin mango milk shake). It compliments a paper masala dosa perfectly.
Service – This was a problem here. Many of the glasses and silverware weren’t clean. Then, we ordered a second appetizer platter, and the waiter made it seem like it was a big hassle. I’m sorry we’re ordering more food, which equals more money for your restaurant. My apologies.
Occasion – It’s pretty casual here. We saw dates and groups of friends dining after shopping along Devon Avenue.
Dress – You can wear pretty much anything. We came straight from work and were perfectly fine.
Cost – We each paid $11. That’s kind of amazing.
If you like, try…Udapi Palace
Location: 2543 W. Devon Ave.
In one word – Dosas
Food – When people think of Indian food, they often limit themselves to tandoori chicken or chicken tikka masala. Stretch your mind and venture into the cuisine of Southern India, which is what UP serves up well. The menu is all vegetarian. Here’s all the advice you need: You need to get a dosa; it’s like a crepe, a giant crepe. My personal favorite is the paper masala dosa. You just rip off a piece of the crepe with your hand and scoop up the amazing potato mixture on your plate. When I was little, I used to have dosa eating races with my sister. I encourage you to do the same with your friends and family. Competitive eating doesn’t have the cache it used to, let’s bring it back. Now it is slightly oily food, so if you have a sensitive stomach, slip a little Pepto in your pocket.
Drink – I recommend the mango lassi. It’s basically a mango milkshake made of yogurt. I’ve been taken to my happy place just thinking of it. And it’s BYOB with no corkage fee. You HAVE to love that.
Service – The staff is very courteous. And they don’t intrude too much, which I like.
Occasion – It’s pretty casual. Come for an early dinner or lunch with your friends.
Scene – The decor doesn’t make this place, it’s the food. You’ve got your stereotypical ornate Indian art to spice up the ambience here.
Dress – Jeans, cords – there’s no one to impress here, but don’t be a schlub.
Cost – CHEAP! $15 max.
If you liked…, try – Hema’s Kitchen, Tiffin