East to In­dia

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The chef pulls no punches when it comes to the spic­ing which was mas­ter­ful, in sauces that were dis­tinc­tive and no­tably free of grease — noth­ing tongue­sear­ing, but our re­quested medium was nippy enough for me. Prices range from $12.50 to $17.50, in­clud­ing bas­mati rice that was nicely pre­pared (but barely warm), and a heap­ing bas­ket­ful of ter­rific naan — freshly baked, puffy, ten­der and flavour­ful, ideal for dip­ping into those ex­cel­lent sauces.

The list of In­dian dishes is short and lim­ited — no las­sis, or In­dian sweets or even chai — and if you don’t like chicken you may be in trou­ble, since the only al­ter­na­tives are a Beef Co­conut Fry and Spicy Grilled Fish (more about that later). But that said, all the chicken dishes

I tried were de­li­cious. My only com­plaint would be that, good as they were, they would have been even bet­ter if they’d been made with chicken on the bone, in­stead of the bone­less and less flavour­ful or juicy breast.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing among them is the locally rare South In­dian Chicken Curry, in a ro­bust, richly lay­ered sauce with hints of tamarind and heaps of onions, and pack­ing — in typ­i­cal South In­dian fash­ion — a lot more heat than the other dishes. By con­trast, but­ter chicken came in a mild and vel­vety, tomato-tinged sauce that was im­pos­si­ble to re­sist, down to the last dip of naan. The un­sauced tan­doori chicken is the dish that would most have ben­e­fited from bone-in pieces, but even though the thin­ner parts were slightly dry, most of it was moist enough, and the sea­son­ing, with a slight lemony un­der­tone, was won­der­ful.

The In­dian dish I’m most of­ten dis­ap­pointed in is biryani, which so rarely lives up to its menu de­scrip­tions — most I’ve tried have been bland, bor­ing and barely spiced at all. Not the Road­house chicken biryani, though, which was, un­ques­tion­ably, one of the best I can re­mem­ber — the rice fra­grant with com­plex spices, fleshed out gen­er­ously by chunks of freshly cooked chicken and sparked by the crunch of cashews, with wee hits of sweet­ness from raisins and thread-thin sliv­ers of fried onion.

There are usu­ally daily spe­cials. Not all of them are In­dian but, for­tu­nately, a spe­cial on one of my vis­its was a sump­tu­ous lamb curry of ten­der meat in a dark brown, full-flavoured sauce, so good it ought to be on the per­ma­nent menu. One of the menu’s rare al­ter­na­tives to chicken was an­other south In­dian dish, the beef co­conut fry, cubes of spic­ily mar­i­nated beef with bits of co­conut — dry­ish, but with a ad­dic­tive flavour. I’d prob­a­bly try it again, but not the spicy grilled fish — haddock that was nicely grilled but topped by a thick paste of onions that wasn’t spicy at all, just sur­pris­ingly bland and flavour­less. The only other In­dian dishes on the menu are chicken tikka and cur­ried chick­peas (un­sam­pled).

There is a sep­a­rate lounge menu, which you won’t get to see in the din­ing room un­less you ask for it, and it is worth ask­ing for since that’s where you’ll find the house-made samosas. They are listed at three for $11, but our serv­ing con­sisted of six tiny ones, some stuffed with pota­toes and peas, oth­ers with a spinach mix­ture — not nearly enough of them for that un­re­al­is­ti­cally high $11, but ex­cel­lent.

There are no In­dian desserts, and only one that is made in-house but it’s ir­re­sistible — orange-drenched sponge cake lay­ered with bits of orange and whipped cream ($4.50). Ser­vice was friendly and at­ten­tive — not al­ways knowl­edge­able about the food, but al­ways will­ing to get the an­swers to our ques­tions.

Ye8l E1SSANK / W8998ysd :RSS YRSSS

My nar­ion Warhaft nanoj Ku­mar, ex­ec­u­tive chef and owner at the Road­house Satery, poses with his wife Am­bily nanoj hold­ing a meal of south 8ndian chicken curry with home-made naan.

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