Thursday, 8 August 2013

India Bistro - bringing some spice to Wharf Street

India Bistro has recently opened in Victoria; although they're not new to the restaurant scene (with several other Vancouver restaurants in the family, including a sister 'India Bistro' on Davie Street), they're new here on the island.  Located at the corner of Wharf Street and Yates Street - you can settle onto a comfy leather chair inside or a patio seat outside.

India Bistro corner of Wharf St & Yates St

I'm not an expert on Indian food (having only recently begun to elevate my spice-tolerance), but a friend (who does nosh-out on this and other spicy cuisines regularily) had recently been and quite enjoyed the meal. So onto the hit-list it went.

We rounded up some friends who had not been to the Victoria installment yet (but had dined at the Vancouver location - so it was great to have some menu knowledge keeping us on track). Once we were settled, a plate of crispy poppadums were delivered to our table while we perused the large menu. And big it was - both sides filled with delicious sounding food. Thank goodness for the snacks....

Poppadums to snack on while reading the large menu

We focused our attention on choosing main courses to eat family style - after lengthy discussions and much menu flipping over and over and over again - we short-listed to four entrees, two types of rice and an order of naan bread. When the server appeared to take our order, he suggested a mixed appetizer plate to start with - and with the poppadums disappearing and our hunger rising, we opted in on that as well.

Side note on the spice level - we were given the "how spicy do you want this?" option with each of the four main courses - and decided on mild-medium for all of them. The list of levels did include everything from mild to medium to Indian-hot to super-hot - so for those of you seeking some burn with that spice - they will make it so.

The mixed appy plate is a nice sampler to get your Indian taste-buds rolling - a couple of samosas (potato with peas), vegetable pakoras and chicken pakoras (like curried chicken fingers) - served with a spicy cilantro sauce and a spicy tomato/chili sauce. The menu says it's for two - but it split nicely among the four of us.

Mixed appetizer plate (chicken & veggie pakoras and samosas)

And then the main dishes started to arrive and eat up our table space. We selected three curry dishes and one tandoori dish. The three former ones arrive in miniature chaffing dishes powered by candles to keep the food warm - both beautiful and useful. You can just make out the glow of the candle through the smaller round holes on the side....

Curry entrees set in mini-chaffing dishes

But enough about the serving dishes and onto the dishes themselves: first up, Lamb Shahi Korma - boneless pieces of lamb in a cashew curry sauce. This dish was lovely - the ground cashews lent a sweetness to the spicy curry sauce and tender lamb pieces. This would be a definite repeat order for us.

Lamb Shahi Korma (cashew curry sauce)

Next up - Aloo Matar - potatoes and peas in a tomato, onion, garlic & ginger curry sauce. Another very flavourful dish that we all enjoyed. The restaurant also prepares this same curry sauce with spinach & chickpeas or just chickpeas, in case potatoes aren't your thing.

Aloo Matar (potatoes & peas in a tomato/garlic/ginger curry)

From the tandoori part of the menu we ordered Fish Tikka. These tandoori dishes don't have sauce, but get their flavour from the marinades and spices that are cooked with the meat/fish/veggies in the clay tandoori oven. The boneless pieces of fish were very tasty, coated in bright, flavourful spices and still moist, served to us sizzling (literally) on a cast-iron platter with sliced peppers.The picture makes them look deep-fried - which they weren't....a close-up would have been better - but the steam coming off the dish would have made for an interesting camera 'filter'.

Fish tikka (from the tandoori oven, served sizzling to the table)

And the final main course - chicken tikka masala - boneless pieces of chicken in a ginger, onion and tomato sauce. This dish was also very good - flavourful and moist.

Chicken Tikka Masala (ginger, onion & tomato curry)
And to sop up all the great sauces - we order plain steamed basmati rice and a rice pulao (basmati with cumin, onion and spices).

Rice Pulao (with cumin & spices)

 And what the rice didn't soak up - the garlic naan bread did...

Garlic Naan Bread

We all really enjoyed the meal at the India Bistro and agreed the Victoria version is as good as the original in the Big Smoke (and the lack of leftovers and cleaned plates reinforced this). Each dish that we ordered tasted unique and different from all the others. Service was very attentive when it needed to be (lightning fast replacement of a dropped knife seconds after it hit the floor) and relaxed when called for (with plates cleared and dessert bypassed, the bill wasn't dropped on our table until we requested it - the table was obviously "ours" until we wanted to leave).

A good addition to the spice scene in Victoria.

India Bistro
1245 Wharf Street
Everyday 11:30am-11pm
(250) 382-8662

India Bistro on Urbanspoon

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