Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gourmet India

For as much as I love to go to new restaurants and eat out, being a poor 24 year old college graduate doesn't always make it possible. Luckily, my dad steered me in the direction of where deals abound and eating out on the reg can be managed by even the pauperiest of paupers. All you have to do is search an area code, and it comes up with all of the participating restaurants and the deals that are offered! Going completely insane, I picked a variety of 5 that I think will be an excellent wide net of what San Diego has to offer. They offer $25 gift certificates for $10, $10 for $3, and it goes on! Even with minor small print (dinner only, gratuity included, etc etc) it's still an awesome way to find the perfect excuse to try the little restaurant that you always see but have just never made it to.

With Thai, Seafood, Afghan, Indian, and Comfort/Americana accounted for, Ashton and I decided to go to Gourmet India on 4th for our first coupon-using excursion. We've walked past Gourmet India many times while going to Horton Plaza, so I was glad to finally go inside! The decor is very warm and cozy, with red lighting and the whole back wall illuminated with a screen playing Bollywood movies. This was slightly upscale, white tablecloths and the whole bit, but it was extremely comfortable and surprisingly empty for a rockin' Tuesday night. I was immediately expectant of great things when A) I smelled something amazing from the kitchen, and B) there were only other Indians in there. ALWAYS a dead giveaway.

We started with the Vegetarian Pakora (Spinach, cauliflower, potatoes and fritters served with homemade sweet tomato chutney), which was exquisite. Lightly fried on the outside, with a great chutney that lingered sweetly on the tongue but ended with a pop of spice. A great way to whet our appetites. We opted for the garlic naan bread along with our regular naan to be served with our entrees, because garlic in copious, almost gross, amounts is always welcomed by both Ashton and myself. Since I couldn't decide on just one thing, I got the Tandoori Mixed Grill (An assortment of Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Chicken, Seekh Kebab, Lamb Boti Kebab and Tandoori Shrimp Served with Naan), and Ashton got the Vegetarian Lamb Curry (Vegetarian soy lamb curry, prepared with tomato, ginger, garlic and fresh ground spices). I had some doubts about the benefits of fake lamb over real lamb when real lamb is obviously the better choice, but hey. Let's stay open-minded.

My meal was absolutely top-notch. Every single meat was cooked to perfection with a great variety of methods and spices, leaving me with basically a meat platter and mint chutney to accent the herbs and clay-cooked deliciousness. Wrapped in a hot piece of garlic naan, the lamb was especially wonderful and flawlessly prepared. I can honestly say the Tandoori shrimp was some of the best shrimp I have ever had. There were only 2 pieces, but they were large and grilled with a rubdown of spices that brought out the juiciness of the shrimp without leaving any scorch taste. The basmati rice that came with our meals was okay, a little hard and kind of flavorless. I think jasmine would have been better, or maybe just a softer cooked rice. Ashton's meal was okay. There are some fake meats that are such close replicas that I could be happy with either option. However, lamb is such a unique flavor and texture that it was just a completely different experience than real lamb. However, the sauce was a glorious thing to experience. The red curry was sweet, spicy, and packed with flavor. A spoonfull of it over the rice worked wonders.

Besides the decor being comfortable and classy, and the food being cooked wonderfully and served quick, the service was impeccable. We were not overserved by any means, but the waiter was gracious, polite, invisible when he needed to be and at our side when we required him. The chef also came out and inquired as to our pleasure with the meal. I'm not sure if that was due to the fact that there weren't many people there, or if he was genuinely interested, but the gesture in itself was classy and made us feel very welcome. The high points definitely outweighed the low points, and I would gladly go back for their Thursday night Bollywood nights.

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