Update: India Darbar is closed.
In a word: You won't believe it.
Aine ate the palak paneer and a masala tea.
JM ate the chicken tikka masala with a lemonade.
Jim ate the lamb masala with a Diet Pepsi.
Monnie ate the chicken 65 with tomatoes.
Nichole ate the palak chole with a mango lassi.
Pete ate the tandoori chicken.
Peter ate the butter chicken.
Rachel ate the chicken kashmiri korma.
We all split some vegetable and chicken pakora, a Darbar vegetable platter, roti, and the complimentary papadum & relishes.
The bill was about $120, or $15/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave India Darbar an A; Monnie gave India Darbar a B+; Jim gave India Darbar a B (see our grading rubric).
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India Darbar already had some fans in our party of eight, but the excellent food and gracious service quickly won over the new folks as well.
Plus, India Darbar delivers.
Dinner started with the light, fried pieces of heaven called alternately poori and papadum (and spelled 60 different ways, too.) This was accompanied by red pickled onion relish, green cilantro-mint sauce, and orange tamarind (sweet and sour) sauce. Nichole could have eaten the onion relish by the bowlful but propriety won out this time. (Next time, watch out for flying elbows.) Aine said she hadn't had the papadum before because she usually gets carry-out - so this was definitely worth dining in for.
Jim and Monnie also had the Darbar Vegetable Platter as an appetizer. They expected more variety in taste among the tikki, samosas and pakoras. All three were deep fried in the same chickpea batter, had a similar curry flavor, and were a tad bland.
When the entrees arrived, JM observed that absolutely everything on the table was attractive. Many were presented with style in little brass dishes.
Monnie ordered her Chicken 65 with extra tomatoes (after asking for spinach, and being told that it wasn't fresh and not worth adding). She mistakenly forgot to omit the cilantro (and there was a lot of it!). Overall, however, the dish turned out colorful and very flavorful with a good amount of spiciness.
Jim's lamb masala was good but a little too plain for him. On the plus side, it tasted every bit as good the next day - important for an avid leftover eater, like himself. He had to give Monnie's dish (which he ate a good portion of after she made the mistake of offering) a solid A. It was very good and definitely something he would get on his next trip.
Aine said she felt like a cheater at this place because she knew she already loved India Darbar. And she ordered her favorite dish, Palak Paneer (above), which also happens to be one of her favorite foods on the planet. (At least the way they make it here.) It was delicious, as always.
Rachel's chicken kashmiri korma was very good, and she liked the appetizers, too. (Even the vegetable pakora.)
Of the tandoori chicken, Pete said simply "yum." Because it wasn't boneless like many of the other dishes, it was a bit messy to eat but still great. For a guy who doesn't like spicy food, he found a lot to enjoy about India Darbar.
We learned it was that Peter + JM + Fire = Trouble. Peter's a notoriously picky eater (he doesn't like the veggies), but he really enjoyed his butter chicken (above left) and the appetizers - and he could have finished the roti on his own. JM's chicken tikka masala (above right) was rich and woody with a full curry flavor that got neither boring nor too spicy to savor. He enjoyed it very much.
The palak paneer was a spinach dish that at first reminded Nichole of her meal at Campus Biryani, but the flavor was distinctly different. The chickpea base of the palak chole made it feel more substantial and added a creamy texture. Ginger and garlic added interest though there was no real heat to the dish. The chef will adjust the spiciness to taste, but as Nichole and Jim learned, sometimes you have to be emphatic when you're asking them to turn up the heat.
By the end of the evening, Aine was thrilled that her family had come to share her enthusiasm for India Darbar. Both of the kids said they'd get carryout next time the parents have a craving for Indian food. (She said usually they end up making an extra run to Taco Bell or somewhere else to keep the kids happy.) And we all went home full and content.