Rakia Bar, Queen East Toronto. Get a balkan orchestra and party it up!
How did you like the food in November? I was there around October and the food was great. As the g&m article mentions, it's not the average curry house fair. I would describe it as home-style cooking with a certain finesse and delicacy. Indian families do not cook greasy creamy stuff at home at all (my mom never cooked butter chicken at home and we are a punjabi family from north!) Aravind's cooking reminded me of light, comfort food that is prepared well. Yes, some dishes don't work well (nadan fish for me) and I wish they'd try new dishes in closed circuits more before putting on menu.
And for a $100 restaurant, service was slow, yes. Lighting is poorly setup and interiors could see some improvement.
Re: globe article. She describes saffron as savory? Hmm.. I'm not sure. Perhaps perfumey sweet? Also uttapams are made on a pan, like pan cakes, not oven. Very little south indian cooking is done in oven anyways. I think she embellishes a lilttle much.
I hear yah. They used to be good though. I sometimes go there for kulfi and hear the same joke over "We make better use of the chop-sticks again eh..)
There is no such thing as the 'Best Indian Restaurant'. Some restaurants do one dish well and fail miserably at rest. Here is my list:
1. Butter Chicken: Kwality in Brampton serves butter chicken the way it's supposed to be. Tandoori chicken soaked in tangy, spicy, slight bit sweet cream sauce. It's similar to MotiMahal (or Chawala, Gulati) style in delhi where it originated. For the north american version, go to Little India on Queen (sweetened by molasses, not so spicy or tangy though). Most other restaurants I've been to serve one-sauce-fits-all basterdized version with cream, butter, sugar or salt poured on the house. PS: Kwality also does a good non-greasy goat curry and excellent fish tikka. Their veg options are average.
2. Kebabs: True enough, Lahore Tikka house used to serve good kebabs. I haven't been there in a while so can not attest their quality now. Kebabs are to be finely minced, delicately cooked and shouldn't have added fat. Unfortunately most Indian and Pakistani places overcook/reheat the hell out of them. You are better off at a Persian restaurant or making them at home.
3. Saag Paneer: I've had the best saag paneer at Host (Front Street). Smoothened spinach with very soft pieces of paneer thrown in at the end (they'll be white and fresh from inside). There should be NO CREAM or grease. Host's quality and prices change with location. Front street is the trendy location serving select dishes (Jackfriut masala and butterchicken are good too.) Yorkville is the best overall and the one in mississauga drops the ball occasionally. Gandhi is also a decent, inexpensive option for saag paneer.
4. Dosa & Idli: Udipi has freshest dosas by far. They are similar to a neighbourhood joint in bangalore where you get a variety of appetizers and cheap main course. Try their Chili pakora, samosa chaat, Idli manchurian... Idlis and vadas are average. There are other places in GTA that I've heard have better idlis (anjapaar/nilgiri?), but I haven't been yet. For a modern/north-indian twist on dosas, go to Gurulaxmi in Mississauga.
5. Kuttu Roti: This one is a secret at Little India (the restaurant on Queen) Since they are from Tamilnadu, they serve this street-side meal where a naan is stir fried with meat, egg and vegetables. It's a huge meal, perfect take-out with no rice/roti required. I haven't come across any other restaurant that serves this.
6. Onion Bhajji/Veg snacks: Trimurti cooks these well. Big round, fried balls of onion covered with chickpea flour. I'd go there, get one of this, one haryali tikkas (veg patties) and enjoy over tea for a late afternoon meeting.
7. Chole Bathure: Moti Mahal on Gerrard does it right. Fried leavened bread served with small chickpeas in blackened sauce. Bread comes as a big fluffy ball. Greasiest of all meals but yummy on a sunday afternoon. (Note: these are small white chickpeas in black sauce, not black/kabuli chickpeas)
8. Samosas: Avoid any samosas that look wrapped in a sheet. The outer needs to be smooth, thick and crispy. Folded in a cone, closed like a dumpling. Brar sweets in mississuaga makes good ones with fluffy potatos, peas, fresh coriander and other masala. Samosa factory also makes them well, but they are delivery only.
9. Malabar style: Maroli is a treat. There is no other restaurant I know of that does malabaar cuisine.
10. Buffet: This practice, rarely found in India, has fucked up a lot of good restaurants. Once you go buffet, you cut corners on process, ingredients etc.. Obviously you aren't going to make separate sauces for your buffet butterchicken and the one on menu.. Sheesh. OK, that said I really like the buffet at Tandoori Flame in brampton. Not really for their main course but the other misc items. Gol gappas, fish appetizers, Soup of goat's leg, Chaat paapri. You get to enjoy a bunch of things!
That's it for now. Feel free to suggest a dish and who make sit best.. I'd love to hear more on that from you.