By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Curry House arrives, the third (unlisted) step in the process. Lamb with balti is on a simple white plate. A half-moon of rice, supple and separate, grins with a saffron-stained smirk. The expression nudges into the serious smear of brown--the balti--bumped with pieces of lamb. The lamb is tough and dry. It's hard to chew. Better just to suck the sauce from it, savoring the flits of clove, coriander and cumin. But then you can't really do anything with the spent lamb pieces that wouldn't be untoward even in a fast casual place. So you chew and swallow. And it isn't all bad. The lamb adds a rough-hewn sweetness to it, even if your jaws lock.
I expected the same jaw-lock from the chicken tandoori. The dish usually results in pieces of arid, leathery bird bosom dyed the color of Hooters hot pants. But this is clean slices of chicken breast. The meat is moist and rimmed with the shade of blinding orange found in "traffic fines double" road-construction warning signs. The shade fades to yellow as you reach the interior of the meat. The slices rest on a webwork of bell pepper and onion strips. It's tasty.
Chicken in the chicken saag bumped the saag cloak like the lamb bumped the balti. It was also dry. The dark swamp of creamy spinach was good, with rough minces of leaf, giving it a texture beyond strained baby foods.
But here's the problem: Shrimp fried rice smelled of Sterno. Sure, it had a generous spread of plump shrimp, a little sudsy. There were lots of bell pepper, onion and pea pods. Broccoli florets and carrot shavings peeked through. The rice was separate and fluffy. But when you feel like you're a moment away from stir-fry flambé, well...
Café Roti is the work of Pardeep Sharma, who created Indian Palace and Mantra. And he proves one thing here: The worst day of fast Indian food is infinitely better than the best day of virtually any other fast food. Toys be damned. 6509 W. Park Blvd., Suite 420, 972-403-7600. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $-$$