IBJOpinion

DINING: Indian restaurant offers twist on traditional buffet concept

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E

“We already have India Garden.” So said a friend when I told him of Haveli (235 S. Meridian St., 280-7648), the new downtown Indian restaurant.
 

ae-apb-haveli02-15col.jpg The former Sushi on the Rocks location now houses a worthwhile Indian buffet with unique menu options and warm Naan delivered to your table. (IBJ Photo/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

But what my friend’s comment missed is, a) all Indian restaurants are not alike, b) we’ve got plenty of sandwich shops but you didn’t hear many complaints when Potbelly opened on Monument Circle, c) even in a midsize downtown area, many workers and visitors stick to a few-block radius, and d) you can never have too much naan.

Housed in the former site of Ice Lounge, Sushi on the Rocks, and others, Haveli hasn’t done much with the interior of this oft-turned-over spot. It’s clean and bright but not overtly atmospheric. We visited for lunch, which, true to Indian- restaurant form, is offered as a buffet ($7.99, but look around for coupons).

One difference from many other Indian buffets is that here, the naan—a choice of plain or garlic—is delivered hot to your table rather than kept warm on the buffet. This may cut down on the slices you take, but certainly increases the pleasure.

Normally, Indian buffets mean standards such as Chicken Tikka Masala and Paneer Palak. Haveli has those, of course, but also boosts the options with Matar Panir (peas in a mildly spiced cheese sauce); Chana Masala, thick with chickpeas; and Goat Curry in a mild gravy, which might turn off the least adventurous in your dining party but offered nothing to fear and much to enjoy.

We didn’t find a dud among the Saag Paneer, Dal Makhni and other offerings, and the Tandoori Chicken offered a safe-haven option for those less intrepid meal companions. Added bonus: The chutneys also tasted fresh and flavorful, with Onion Chutney and a delicate Mint Chutney standing out.

Probably the most striking point was that the meal broke from an unfortunate norm with buffet food—the entrees were adequately cooked. That’s remarkable when you consider the dishes were heavy on proteins that easily dry out when over-exposed to heat lamps. And perhaps it has something to do with the light, but even after two trips to the trough—and, OK, another for a big bowl of syrupy Gulab Jamun balls for dessert—all the food felt less heavy than at other Indian restaurants.

There is an extensive dinner menu (mostly in the $8.95-$13.95 range) with multiple biryanis (rice dishes), seafood offerings, a flock of lamb choices, Indo-Chinese choices, and clay-oven Tandoori specialties, but those will have to wait for another time.•

—Lou Harry

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
ADVERTISEMENT