The aroma of mint never fails to take Navjot Arora back to his childhood in Jalandhar, Punjab, when he'd spend mornings scouring his family garden for fresh mint leaves. Navjot would triumphantly bring his findings back to the kitchen, where he was allowed to grind the leaves with a pestle for the mint chutney—the most important condiment. He worked alongside his parents, marveling as they nimbly sliced tender goat meat, throwing it against the wall to test for doneness, and thoughtfully tasted spoonfuls of creamy curry from simmering pots.
Though Navjot would go on to study under master Indian chefs at the prestigious Taj Group of Hotels and work for top restaurants in New York, he never forgot the culinary lessons he learned in his family's kitchen. At Chutney Masala, he still hand grinds fresh herbs and spices to bring out their intricate flavors, adding them to sauces lauded by reporters from the New York Times as "superbly complex." The expert chef then folds free-range meat, wild seafood, and local produce into a variety of contemporary and traditional Indian dishes, from spicy lamb curries to fragrant biryani rice.
Navjot's dining room is nearly as intriguing as the flavors in his dishes, with brick walls speckled with photographs from India's mid-19th century Raj era and rustic antique accents. A mounted deer head overlooks the rows of wooden tabletops and cushy green booths, sometimes sneezing when a waft of cumin floats to his nostrils.
Cuisine Type: Italian
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11–25
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Pizza
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Good-Life Gourmet’s is a case study in multitasking. In its open kitchen, Chef Eric, an alum of the French Culinary Institute, routinely fries his signature falafel, teaches his cooking techniques to budding chefs, and prepares gourmet catering spreads. Although Chef Eric accomplishes a lot when he’s working, he maintains a fun, light-hearted environment, playing whimsical pranks on his coworkers, who include his three brothers and a team of local high-school students.
At Good-Life’s sandwich shop, a rotating menu gives palates the royal treatment with the aforementioned falafel, sliced-steak wraps, and butter-poached lobster rolls. Meanwhile, the kitchen’s BYOB cooking classes cover topics ranging from tapas to basic knife techniques, such as how to turn two meat cleavers into a huge pair of scissors. The culinary team tailors its catering feasts to each event, and pours its remaining creativity into the pop-up restaurant, Restaurant Maize, open occasionally in locations throughout the city.