Jasla Indian Cuisine and Jasla Events opens
Restaurant occupies former Chateau Granieri location in Jeffersonville
WEST NORRITON » Fate works in unusual ways sometimes.
It surely had a hand in matching the venerable building with enormous curb appeal — a grand “Gone with the Wind”style staircase tends to help in that department — with a trio of new owners equipped with the perfect combination of gumption and guts to transform it into something that will help restore the sparkle to Jeffersonville’s dining and entertaining scene.
“I’m a visionary guy and I truly believe that this street can look as good as Phoenixville if all the businesses work together,” said Amit Doshi, who partnered with Dr. Natu Patel and Balder Singh to give the former Chateau Granieri on West Main Street in West Norriton a long overdue new lease on life. “This is already being called a jewel of the Norristown area.”
Raj Cherra, a member of the group that originally purchased the property from the Granieri family back in 2002, is still on board as well, Doshi noted.
In its heyday, the banquet hall had been a local fixture for weddings and other events but had never served as a day to day restaurant.
Doshi, a longtime hospitality guru with ownership in a string of hotels, and his partners have changed all that, adding a hefty dose of “jalsa,” an Indian word meaning “to kick back, relax and enjoy.”
While climbing to the top of that grand staircase still lands you in a prime banquet venue, now called Jalsa Events, as well as lodging known as Chateau Valley Forge Suites, the lower level houses the elegant Jalsa Indian Cuisine, which is grounded by a fusion philosophy worlds away from the preponderance of Indian restaurants that now dominate the JeffersonvilleTrooper-Eagleville stretch of Ridge Pike.
The menu boasts Indian, Italian and Mexican fare, with the latter two frequently flaunting an Indian influence, courtesy of executive chef Rene Hernandez.
“All the dishes were perfected by the chefs and partners and we wanted to make sure we covered all the spectrums,” said Doshi, a self-described foodie who loves to cook at home. “The staff will walk you through the whole menu. If you want something special, the chef will come out and talk to you, and as long as we have the ingredients in the kitchen we will make it for you.”
Popular dishes run the gamut from the creamy Saffron Gnocchi, with tomatoes and shrimp, to Bekham Aloo Gobi (cauliflower, potatoes, cumin and ginger) and Naan Bruschetta.
Deftly seasoned with a melange of spices and herbs, the rich red hue of the ever-popular Chicken Tikka sauce initially beckons with its ambrosial aroma when it arrives at the table, summoning you to start scooping it up with the accompanying Basmati rice and crisp naan.
Unique desserts rotate daily, ranging from Saffron Pistachio Cannoli to Fried Ice Cream.
“The key thing is that we took care of everybody,” Doshi noted. “My daughter is 16, and even though she is Indian she wants to go to a restaurant where she
can have more than Indian food. So kids can come here and have what they want, and the parents can still have Indian, or Italian or Mexican food. We want to be a melting pot in every aspect. It’s not just an Indian restaurant, Italian restaurant or Mexican restaurant.”
A Chinese wedding and 15th birthday quinceanera are booked for the ballroom, which recently hosted 300 guests for a Mother’s Day brunch.
“We want to do lots of different cultural things here,” Doshi said. “The important thing is that anybody with a badge — EMT, fire, police officers — we automatically give them 15 percent discount. We want to honor them for their service.”
In keeping with the “jalsa” sensibility, the elegant but relaxed contemporary motifs in the main and private dining rooms encourage lingering over a glass of wine or a refreshing cucumber mint cooler, a seasonal alcoholic specialty of the bar made with fresh cucumber juice.
“Every single drink from the bar, we want people to taste the freshness. We are much different than other Indian restaurants, which don’t normally have a bar or the kind of ambience that we created. We didn’t make it feel like you’re sitting in an Indian restaurant. We built this as a place where people can have a nice two hour dinner, with whiskey, wine or whatever you like,” explained Doshi, who said he handpicked every décor detail himself.
Reservations are required for the private dining experience, which features seven-, nine- or eleven-course meals.
“Each course is paired to go with a red or white wine,” Doshi said.
“The other unique thing is that we make our own masala, grinding the spices here.”
Although buffets are a popular lunchtime option at many Indian restaurants, in lieu of an all-you-can-eat buffet, Jalsa offers the more personal, freshly made Thali, a quintessential assortment of Indian favorites elegantly presented on a round platter on freshly baked naan.
“You get two different vegetables, rice, naan, a sweet and meat, unless you get the vegetarian version,” explained Doshi, who said that dining guests will always be acknowledged by a Jalsa owner at some point during their stay.
“We have a rule that every table has to be visited by one owner, lunch and dinner,” Doshi said. “One of us is always here to make sure every guest is taken care of. Everybody says it’s a complicated business,” he added, “but it’s only complicated if the owner never shows up. When you get involved in every aspect of a restaurant, it’s easier for you to see what works and what doesn’t work. And, from what our guests tell us, we know this is working.”
Amit Doshi, the principal visionary behind Jalsa Indian Cuisine and Jalsa Events, stands in the elegant dining room of the restaurant, which is open daily for lunch and dinner.
A popular lunchtime option at Jalsa Indian Cuisine, Thali, features an assortment of Indian flavors in meat or vegetarian versions.