In a word: A little Dhaba'll do ya!
The specs: #00845
8333 Greenway Blvd., Middleton 53562
Official web site
Latest Dhaba news and reviews at del.icio.us
Aine & Pete shared the vegetarian meal for 2 (vegetable pakora, malai kofta, chana masala, spinach paneer, naan and kheer).
Allen, Liz & Nichole split the spinach aloo, beef biryani, and chicken shahi korma.
JM ate the chicken tikka masala.
We split some ginger & peshawari naan, and had some tea & mango lassi.
The bill was $99, or $16ish/person, plus tip, minus cash discount.
Aine, Liz & Pete gave Dhaba an A; Allen, JM & Nichole gave Dhaba an A- (see our grading rubric).
Dhaba is anything but greasy-spoon subcontintental cuisine. All the other Indian places in Madison (that we know of) do the lunch buffet/dinner menu thing, but here there's always a menu. The tablecloths are spotless and the dining room is bright and airy.
Lucky for us we were a large group, and had Dhaba fans with us to share a bunch of dishes. Tossed salad or dal came with each meal. The soup was light and slightly gritty and packed with spices. The vegetable pakora were perfect. A couple kinds of naan arrived crisp and warm just before our bevy of entrees - appetite-stimulating ginger and sweet peshawari (raisin, cashew and coconut), both delicous.
We got a couple things that required a choice of heat number 1 through 5, and we're here to say that even a 2 is still hot. This was especially true of the beef biryani, which was amazingly flavorful. The spinach got good marks with both paneer and potatoes. Chicken and chickpeas came out in a similar (probably identical) masala sauce. The tikka masala, gratefully a 1, was wonderful with rich flavor and chicken that fell apart under tooth but not fork.
We tried not to, but dribbled turmeric sauce on the pristine tablecloths - how do they get those stains out?
The dinner for 2 came with sweet, milky kheer topped with nutmeg for afters. We liked the tea, too.
In the firmament of Westside places with this kind of cuisine, Dhaba falls just a half-step behind Swagat, which is certainly sayin' somethin'.