As diners are ushered through Flavor of India's resplendent gold-and-violet veranda, a cheerful greeting of "Namaste" sets the tone for an evening of monarch-level hospitality. The palace-like surroundings make suitable stage for a menu that draws on influence from all over India, attracting a high-profile clientele that includes Keanu Reeves, Jessica Alba, Nicolas Cage, and Curry Monster from Sesame Street. Vegetarian entrees stuff bellies with tofu, eggplant, and paneer, though servers also plate meat-laden curries and vindaloos. Chef and co-owner Darshan Singh also shares his culinary knowledge by leading do-it-yourself cooking classes for curry-smiths of all skill levels.
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
In an opulent, Eastern-inspired dining room that steeps in the scents of intoxicating spices, Nirvana blends classic Indian cuisine with the sophistication of Beverly Hills. Chefs call on both traditional Indian grilling methods and the excitement of new flavors to prepare an assortment of unusual dishes, ranging from unique curries and tandoori breads to whole legs of lamb marinated in Indian rum and spices. Beyond the vibrant mural and white booths of the dining room, the lounge and bar lure patrons in with the comfort of canopied beds, damask sofas, and the tranquil gaze of a giant Buddha's head. A flowing river—sealed with glass to protect feet from above and seafood escapees from below—runs along the floor and leads guests through each of the restaurant's distinct areas.
Bombay Palace lays out a flavorful bounty of Northern Indian cuisine made with fresh and healthy ingredients. The menu reflects the diverse culinary stylings of the Indian subcontinent, from the succulent chicken tandoori ($9.99 half/$14.99 full) washed down with a brazen glass of mango lassi ($2.99) to the seductive siren song of the goa shrimp curry ($13.99) guiding lost palates toward a pool of coconut sauce. In addition to meaty temptations, Bombay Palace serves up a number of vegetarian dishes, such as creamy saag paneer ($10.99), chopped spinach with cheese, or tangy aloo gobi ($9.99), fresh cauliflower and potatoes marinated in an onion-infused, tomato-based sauce. Since each enticing dish is made ready-to-order from fresh, MSG-free ingredients, diners can rest assured that their marinated lamb shaslick ($12.99) and herby Mulligatawny soup ($2.99) will leave them satiated and satisfied and not frozen in a block of monosodium carbonite.
Chef Bhupender Singh honed his skills in New Delhi’s renowned Bukhara restaurant. He brings those skills to Saffron, keeping the complex flavor profiles, but cutting out extra fat and calories. The result: refined, yet healthy versions of classics like chicken tikka masala, served fast and fresh.
Nights at India’s Flavor don’t just revolve around the Punjabi dishes cooked in the kitchen’s tandoori oven. There’s always something cooking on the restaurant’s stage, be it a musical performance or karaoke sing-off. Though you can’t always change the quality of the karaoke singer, you can customize the spiciness of your lamb kebab.