French-In­dian fu­sion in Mid­town

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

De­spite be­ing a few steps from the BeltLine, at least four restau­rants have died at the lo­ca­tion of the new

Jai Ho (560 Dutch Val­ley Road, 404-458-6888, www.jai­hoat­

If the crowd on a re­cent Friday night is an ac­cu­rate es­ti­ma­tion, Jai Ho just might make it. Af­ter all, its Hindi name means “let there be vic­tory,” not un­like the co-opted Seven Dwarfs’ “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to war we go.”

Jai Ho de­scribes it­self as a fu­sion of French and In­dian cook­ing. An ex­am­ple is the lamb shank I or­dered. It was slow-braised in a sauce of rose­mary, al­monds and herbs. It’s a clear de­vi­a­tion from the lamb I’ve tasted in other In­dian restau­rants, and I licked the bone af­ter I de­voured the meat.

There was, how­ever, one thing about the dish that an­noyed me big-time. The menu prom­ises that it – like other chef ’s spe­cials – is served with rice, gar­lic naan and “mixed veg­gies.” The lat­ter turned out to be three over­sized flo­rets of broc­coli and three baby car­rots. What the fuck? I un­suc­cess­fully asked the servers to ex­plain how these tepid, bland in­gre­di­ents landed on the plate. Even­tu­ally, an ap­par­ent man­ager came to the ta­ble. He ex­plained that the restau­rant is all about fu­sion. I said I un­der­stood that, but does toss­ing broc­coli and car­rots on the plate re­ally amount to fu­sion? “Yes,” he said. “It’s all about beauty.”

What­ever. Most of the food was good even if it didn’t ap­pear so good. Another such one was a bowl of curry that looked un­ap­pe­tiz­ing to say the least (I won’t make the spe­cific vul­gar com­par­i­son). But it, like the lamb sauce, pro­vided a layer of clear tastes.

And then there was the op­po­site – an en­trée of tilapia wrapped in ba­nana leaves with south In­dian spices. It looked pretty im­pres­sive, but tasted off-key, to say the least. Typ­i­cally, I don’t or­der tilapia any­where. I think of it as fish tofu, with lit­tle fla­vor of its own. Maybe you will like the dish, although my garbage-mouthed friend wasn’t impressed ei­ther.

My rec­om­men­da­tion is that, in­stead of the tilapia, you or­der the whole snap­per cooked in a clay oven called a tan­door and topped with shrimp curry. If you want to eat the most ob­vi­ous case of fu­sion, or­der the spicy starter of mus­sels with shal­lots, ginger, curry leaves, crushed pep­per and co­conut flakes on a bed of yucca.

The menu here is close to gi­gan­tic, in­clud­ing 14 ve­gan and veg­e­tar­ian en­trees like navaratna (ve­g­ables, raisins and nuts in a creamy sauce), street eats (like masala dosa) and seven cur­ries with your choice of chicken, lamb, goat and shrimp. There are five naans , in­clud­ing an odd one with nuts and raisins. There’s also a hand­ful of desserts that I haven’t sam­pled.

The dé­cor of the restau­rant has not no­tice­ably changed since its first in­car­na­tion. The din­ing room is large and L-shaped. The primo seat­ing on these cool evenings is the pa­tio. You would do best to make reser­va­tions in ad­vance.

The ver­dict: I think most of the food is worth the prices, which range all over the place. I’ll re­turn, but, please, no more broc­coli fu­sion.

Cliff Bostock is a for­mer psy­chother­a­pist now spe­cial­iz­ing in life coach­ing. Con­tact him at 404-518-4415 or cliff­bo­

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