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Minerva

In a word: Ha Long Bay for the Bay of Bengal.

The specs: #00974  
 515 Junction Rd., 53717
Details at Yelp, Minerva Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Latest Minerva news and reviews

Barry, JM and Nichole ate poppadum with relishes, the chicken tikka masala, lamb madras, dosas, and idli, with a couple mango lassis.
The bill was $56, or about $18/person, plus tip.
JM gave Minerva an A-; Nichole gave Minerva an A (see our grading rubric).

If we were to judge a book by its cover, Minerva would be a place that we'd probably avoid. To the eye, it seems like a cross between 80s accounting office, a dystopian nursery, and a half-hearted attempt at an incense store in a Mountain West college town. But that's just not true.

If there is a book to judge Minerva by, it is their menu. Thorough and complete, it covers the entire range of Indian cuisine. Thankfully, we had two wise advisers: our helpful server, who was generous with recommendations for a feast for three, and our delightful companion, Barry ("Mr. Mustard"), who also shared his knowledge to help make this a great meal. Since we only went once, we cannot tell you if everything is as good as what we had, or if there are portions of the menu best to be skipped. We can say that the portions that we tried were tried and true. 

The dosas are a house specialty. Since Minerva opened about two years ago, we've also noticed these delicious, soft, crepe-like treats popping up on Indian buffets here and there - but can anyone tell us if that's because they really did just start appearing, or it's just us experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Dosa

JM got his baseline chicken tikka masala that was basically everything he wanted from that dish. Like most iterations of CTM, it was buttery and covered in a rich and deep sauce, but this sauce was better than most he's had around town. Barry's choice of lamb madras was probably the best dish on the table. Nichole's choice, the idli, a tambour of rice with stuff in it, was just OK.

Table

Our comparison to Ha Long Bay is twofold: 1) both menus are lengthy, highlighting a specific region's cuisine while also offering the other "standards" of the broader category of cuisine that customers might look for; and 2) you wouldn't have thought we needed another quality place with similar cuisine so close (Lao Laan Xang for HLB, Swagat for Minerva), but here they are and they're doing a great job. So please, Madison, find this place and go there.

Comments

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I forget the name of the Indian restaurant which used to be where Nile now is, but that was where I first saw dhosas in Madison. Their specialty was southern Indian cuisine.I'm guess g that was 6 - 7 years ago.

Dosas are wonderful! I recall Chautaura always had dosas on their menu. I would love for someone to start a dosa and samosa cart, featuring the two classic Indian street foods.

Every indian resto in town makes iddli. None of them make them well. I cannot explain why.

The hyderibadi-spiced biryani at Minerva is great, though. Overall they're pretty tasty but when they're on "home turf" they really knock it out of the park.

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