2301 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107
Phone: (206) 783-5080
What I wanted to do was research and write a review on an Indian restaurant. I had it all set. the witty banter, the self-depracating humor, my knowledge of how potatoes made it to India. I was so THERE!. I had chosen a slam dunk in Indian Food in Seattle: India Bistro. If you check on the boards and the newspapers, this place always gets good to high marks.
Alas, fates were against me as my timing was always off. I try to hit the restaurants I review more than one time in order to try different dishes and see how they stack up on different nights. It’s the only ethical rule I really apply to myself, or at least so I thought. But each time I went to the Bistro, there was a variable that prevented me from giving the restaurant my full attention. Usually it had to do with the fact that India Bistro likes its Buffet line for lunch. My bias against buffets was preventing me from doing a proper review of it’s evening menu items.
So last night I drove out to Ballard to sit and eat by myself, take proper notes, and hopefully have a decent Indian dinner.
I got there about twenty after five, and the place was closed. But there was also a line of about a dozen people or so waiting for the place to open. And as I am never one to complain about waiting (especially when I carry a book in tow), I simply waited.
The door to the place opened about ten minutes later, and everyone who was waiting in line was seated quickly. I would like to give a quick shout out to the woman who pushed herself in front of me as I think it helps demonstrate how much people like India Bistro, as well as shows how petty I can be to those without manners. As I was being poured an icy glass of water, a very official looking man came out and stated “Thank you all for waiting. The food (dramatic pause) is ready.” He then stepped aside to show…
…Another buffet line.
Son of a bitch!
I was confused, befuddled. I looked at the others who migrated quickly to the buffet line, but they were obviously hypnotized by the nature of buffet lines and the promise of “All you can eat”. I looked to the the official looking man. He saw my confusion and came over.
“Are you not serving menu items today?” I asked.
“Today, I am giving back to the commmunity. It’s our anniversary, so we have a free meal to all of our customers. So no menu today. Try the food, as we made it special for the celebration!”
I was hesitant. “It’s a buffet line!”, I kept reminding myself. Plus, you can’t really review food from a buffet line, if that’s not what the restaurant is known for. I considered putting the review off for another week or so and heading to another restaurant. And then the voice of reason shouted in my head.
“It’s a free meal ya’ dink!”. My subconscious is a pragmatic bitch at times.
I walked up to the buffet and indulged.
I could tell you about the smoky flavor of the Goat Marsala, and the inherent spiciness of the Marsala sauce. I could tell you how moist the Tandori Chicken or how sweet the Tandori Lamb was. I could extrapolate on the hint of Jamsine that permeated the Basmati rice. I could easily let you know of the sweetness of the Aloo Gohbi (potatoes and cauliflower in a curry sauce). I could tell you all of this and be telling the truth. Of course it will also let you know that I actually enjoyed the food from the buffet line, and that’s a thought I cannot readily wrap my mind around. A decent buffet line… who knew?
But more importantly, I want to let you know of the owner of India Bistro – one Mike Panjabi. He celebrates the anniversary of his restauant each year around June 4th by giving back to the community. He celebrates the community of Ballard. And you can tell when you talk with him that he likes what theh community has done for him.
So, yeah, I could tell you how good the food is. But the real reason to go to India Bistro is to celebrate a small business owner who has taken one day out of the year to give back to his customers. And in my book, a good restaurant owner/manager is reason enough to frequent their business.
But the Chicken Korma will make a good reason to eat there as well, just in case.