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Sunday, December 25, 2005


Webmaster's Choice: Best Indian Restaurant and Best New Restaurant, Fall 2004

Dec. 2006 update: Taste of India has closed its doors! A tragic loss for the Fox Valley.

I took my wife to Taste of India on October 22, 2004, and had a magical meal for very little money. This new restaurant is at 2333 West Wisconsin Avenue, right next to Cinders (you need to enter via the Cinders parking lot on Perkins Street). Phone 731-9200. The decor was pleasant, the lighting just right for a romantic evening, and the background Indian music was at a subtle, unobtrusive volume. But forget the ambiance - the food was awesome! Just moments after placing our order, we were brought a simple appetizer of a cracker-like bread with three choices of delicious toppings - an onion chutney, a thick mint sauce, and a tamarind sauce. These simple but delicious offerings were a pleasant beginning to a great meal, and the sauces were fun to try on other parts of the main course that came later

I ordered the vegetarian Thali dish, a delightful combination plate that included naan bread, a truly delicious samosa appetizer, four interesting vegetarian dishes, the best Basmati rice I've had, and a dessert similar to rice pudding but tastier, made with noodles. My wife ordered a remarkable version of Chicken Makhani that was simply flawless, beautiful, and exciting. The vegetarian Makhani in my Thali plate was also outstanding - such rich flavors!

One thing that really stood out for both of us was the quality of the Basmati rice. This was the first time that I can remember where I viewed "plain" rice as a dish to be enjoyed on its own. With remarkably long grains, a rich aroma and subtle flavor - aided by a touch of cumin and clove, I believe - the Basmati rice made the meal even more memorable. I'm not sure what brand they use or how they prepare it, but already it beckons me back. And for a new restaurant, the service was surprisingly rapid and responsive. The restaurant was moderately busy, but we were served promptly and were genuinely surprised with how fast we were enjoying great good. For two of us, the bill for two entrees plus extra naan bread came to under $28 before tax and tip. Most dishes are in the range of $10 to $13. The one weakness, in my opinion was the naan bread, but it may have just been too authentic. The naan bread I get in most Indian places has a lot of butter on it, and this tasted pretty much fat free. I suppose that's how it "should" be, but I prefer the less healthy version. And yes, for lunch, they do offer a buffet. I'll try that soon. One more thing: right next to the restaurant is new Indian grocery store if you like cooking Indian food yourself. Yes, they carry several brands of Basmati rice, and a great mix of spices.