Spice Affair Indian Restaurant

Ice cream

Mango mousse

Butter chicken

Chick pea and walnut




***** (5 stars)

It’s really nice to find a truly elegant Indian restaurant. Spice Affair backs up its stylish decor with excellent service and creative, flavorful cuisine.

The highlight of our meal was definitely the Butter Chicken, and it’s hard to imagine going here and not having this dish. Garlic Naan bread was great for dipping in the sauce, although it could have had more garlic.

We also really liked both appetizers we shared, a crispy cauliflower dish and patties made of chickpeas and walnuts. The accompanying raita was particularly good.

None of us cared for the salmon entree, which was fishy, and didn’t have a particularly appealing coating. When the server noticed this he offered to exchange it, but when we demurred he brought us several complimentary desserts. That and many other touches really impressed us with the professionalism of this restaurant, and I’m sure we’ll return.

Spice Affair Indian Restaurant
50 N La Cienega Blvd
Ste 120
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(424) 286-1739

India House Restaurant

*** (3 stars)

This is a very nicely decorated restaurant with about 150 different dishes on the menu. Unfortunately the staff isn’t very good, and the food is just average.

It’s odd browsing through the menu, because it seems to have little organization with multiple sections devoted the similar categories, and very few of the standbys like korma, saag, and so on.

We tried Papdi Chat as an appetizer, and the flavors were good, but it wasn’t enhanced by the sturdy wafers mixed into it.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tikka was good fish, but the seasoning on the fish skin wasn’t my favorite flavor.

Bhuni Gobi was extremely overcooked cauliflower; it resembled something that had been sitting on a buffet for hours.

The best dish was Channa Palak, chick peas in a garlic, onion and spinach sauce. Garlic naan bread was also okay.

The service staff seems to be mostly Russian, and wasn’t strong on communication. They were out of all the juices, and couldn’t produce a beer list.

There aren’t many Indian restaurants in River North, but even so, I wouldn’t bother to return here.

India House Restaurant
59 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 645-9500



***** (5 stars)

Years ago we liked to go to Tabla for the amazing food and spectacular desserts. Despite what was at the time a very decrepit building, the food was the draw. But then they changed lunch to a buffet and we stopped going.

I’m pleased to report that full lunch service is back, and the food is better than ever. In addition, the formerly dingy space has now been completely remodeled, and is one of Orlando’s most stylish restaurants.

The three course lunch must be one of the best deals in town. It begins with soup or salad, then your choice of many Indian and a few Thai dishes incorporating the protein of your choice, served on a very attractive platter along with rice, naan bread, and either a samosa or spring roll. Finally there is a choice of desserts.

Our favorites were the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Saag Paneer. The banana roll was a nice way to finish up. It’s a lot of food for a very reasonable price.

Service was friendly and fairly quick, so this will definitely go onto our regular lunch circuit. I’d also like to visit for dinner and further explore the menu. Tabla is back and better than ever!

5827 Caravan Ct
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400

Chutney’s Indian Restaurant

**** (4 stars)

Chutney’s is in the space formerly occupied by the excellent Rice Paper and the terrible Lolailo. It’s also almost next door to Graffiti Junction, which used to be Orlando’s finest Indian restaurant, Memories of India, so it has some big shoes to fill.

So far things look promising. We visited at lunch, and, unfortunately like most Indian restaurants in the area, only the buffet is available at lunch time. While there are plenty of choices available on the buffet, it’s impossible for the food quality to match what could be served up fresh and in even more variety from the kitchen.

We were impressed with the variety of chutney available (not too surprising, I guess, given the restaurant’s name) and the endless supply of naan bread that was delivered to our table.

They were still working out some issues with getting checks promptly to tables, but the service was friendly.

Still, to assess whether this is really the next go-to Indian restaurant in Southwest Orlando (something we could really use, given the weaknesses of the others in the area) will require a visit in the evening.

Chutney’s Indian Restaurant
7637 Turkey Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 730-9624


***** (5 stars)

Vermillion offers very interesting food in a trendy, upscale atmosphere with a nice soundtrack.

They bill their food as a fusion of Indian and Latin, but it seemed to lean much more to Indian, although none of the items were traditional Indian, each had a unique and interesting spin.

We tried an extensive assortment of tapas, appetizers, and one entree, and enjoyed all of them. There is also an interesting wine list with about half the selections available by the glass.

Service was friendly and attentive.

10 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 527-4060





Upstairs Sunday Brunch

Upstairs Sunday Brunch

**** (4 stars)

This tiny space off of Hannibal square is owned by the people behind Saffron on Sand Lake Road, but it has better food and service.

We started with papadums and garlic naan bread. The papadums were more delicate than most, served with two chutneys, mint and tamarind. The garlic naan was particularly good, very thin and a bit crisp in the center, with lots of garlic.

Next we shared the tandoori platter, a combination of chicken, lamb, shrimp and sausage. All were very good although not remarkable.

We finished with an order of butter chicken, which was extremely flavorful, a bit more complex and slightly less rich than some versions.

Service was very attentive. There seemed to be more servers than patrons, although I guess Saturday lunch is slow. Although we didn’t take advantage of it, there is a superb lunch deal, with a full meal for just about $10.

We also went back for brunch, which was upstairs, and a spectacular spread of very fresh food, with terrific variety. Brunch is a deal, priced at $13.95 including a drink or glass of sparkling wine.

Many of the dishes on the menu are not names I’m familiar with from the other Indian restaurants I’ve been too, so I’m looking forward to returning and trying some new things.

533 W New England Ave
Ste 100
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 441-9872

American Gymkhana

**** (4 stars)

If you’re looking for an incredible Indian fusion experience that combines traditional dishes with complex influences from other cuisines in beautiful presentations, proceed directly to American Gymkhana and don’t even bother to read the rest of this review. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re the owner of this restaurant, please read on.

Your chef and her cuisine are¬†wonderful. But if you want to succeed, you need to fix some things soon. The restaurant has been open two months, which is plenty of time for there to be someone working in service who knows what they’re doing.

Sadly, this is not the case. The food is so good that people will try again, but at some point we’ll give up unless basic levels of service can be achieved. It’s as if the whole staff has never been in a table service restaurant (not counting Denny’s) before.

On our Saturday brunch visit there were at least 15 servers huddled near the entrance, and exactly two patrons. Yet we were interrogated for five minutes at the front desk by three people before finally being shown to a table. Why do you need our names and phone numbers to serve us food?

We asked our server several questions about the food and beverages (let’s face it, the brunch menu isn’t exactly self explanatory, and contradicts itself regarding what the meal includes). The answer to every question was “well, I don’t know what’s in that, but we do everything very special here so it has lots of wonderful ingredients.”

Before you blame the server for this response, let me note that I overheard this same conversation at two other tables with two other servers and the response was essentially identical. If you ever get a patron with a food allergy, they’re dead.

There were a dozen other minor issues with the service provided by everyone who visited our table: inability to clearly explain what came or did not come with various dishes on the menu, wrong drinks served with no one noticing, no one offering dessert before the check–nothing show-stopping or that prevented us from enjoying the truly wonderful food. But there is no excuse for it.

You own a Michelin listed restaurant in New York, and I know this isn’t what the service is like there. Someone needs to move to Orlando and take charge. It would be a shame for one star service to kill a restaurant with 5 star food.

American Gymkhana
7559 W Sandlake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 985-2900


***** (5 stars)

It’s hardly surprising that all of the best Indian meals I’ve had have been in London, even include some Michelin starred meals. But Veeraswamy may well be the best of the best.

I was actually not expecting it to be quite that good, because the opentable listing emphasizes their corporate connections, plus a recommendation by National Geographic(?!)

Yet everything we tried was one of the best Indian dishes I’ve tasted, and we tried quite a few items, sampling four appetizers and a vegetarian main that included four separate dishes. Particular highlights were the Raj Kachori, a fancy version of Indian street food consisting of a crisp wheat puri filled with goodies, and Scallop Moilee, which came in a stunning coconut and ginger sauce. My wife is a Chicken Tikka aficionado, and proclaimed this one the best Indian dish she ever tasted.

There is also an excellent wine list, highlighted by some very well-described white and red Burgundies.

This will definitely be the Indian restaurant we return to on our next visit to London.

Victory House
99 Regent Street
London, W1B 4RS
+44 20 7734 1401


**** (4 stars)

This wonderfully aromatic restaurant is well named.

The menu offers a wide range of classic Indian dishes, some with a twist. For example, the naan bread is very thin, almost like flatbread, but with a bubbly crisp crust around the edge. We had the garlic version, and it was some of the best I’ve had. Because of its thinness, it wasn’t too filling, yet made a great scoop for picking up sauce.

We tried three entrees. The shrimp saag was rich and had a good spinach taste amidst the spices, but the strong flavors made the inclusion of shrimp pointless. Next time I would get it without any protein.

Chicken Madras was extremely creamy, and the chicken was moist and succulent. I hadn’t had this dish before, and really enjoyed it.

But by far the best was the lamb korma, not so much because of the lamb (which was fine, but not tender and succulent like the chicken) but because of the wonderfully complex flavors in the korma sauce, one of the best versions I’ve tasted.

The meal starts with a basket of papadums and two sauces, mint, and tamarind. The mint sauce was a bit thinner than some, and I like more cilantro in mine, but the tamarind sauce was outstanding, almost like fresh cherries in its fruitiness. Very different from the dark, cloying versions served most places.

Service was extremely friendly and helpful. There are a large number of nice wines by the glass.

The place is cozy and upscale, and the cooking smells waft down the street. For a fine meal, just follow your nose to Cumin.

1414 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-1414