DINING: Organic, halal meats mark new Lafayette Square eatery

March 21, 2015
Shredded beets are pressure cooked with free-range goat in Chapat’s Goat Beets. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)
Bread, in all its glorious forms, might be my downfall—whether that’s naan at India Garden, torn pieces of injera at Abyssinia, or the yeast rolls from the Beef House (still memorable even though I haven’t been there in years).

Add to that long, long list chapati, the wheat-flour flatbread that gives this new East Asian restaurant both its name and a convenient way to scoop up the tasty sauces its dishes are cooked in.

Separated from most of its fellow Lafayette Square International Marketplace eateries by Interstate 65, Chapati (4930 Lafayette Road, 405-9874) stresses organic, free-range halal (acceptable under Islamic law) meats in recipes passed down through generations. That would seem to imply time-consuming cooking processes, but even though many of the dishes involve slow cooking and marinating, the prep work is done in advance. Chapati, with its counter service design, clearly wants to cater to the “I’ve-only-got-an-hour-for-lunch” crowd as well as those who want to relax over fare difficult to find elsewhere.

My guest and I could have easily made

satisfying meals of the chapati and Daal ($7.99), a vegetarian dish of spiced lentils cooked with chili peppers and spices, and the not-too-hot Chili Chicken ($8.99). But with so many interesting flavors to try, we opted to split each dish, which adds $3 to the cost. That gave us access to Nihari ($9.99), tenderized beef braised in curry sauce, and the little-goes-a-long-way Goat Beets ($8.99), shredded beets pressure-cooked with free-range goat.

 Chapati also has straight-up spiced meats on the menu ($8.99). We tried the Beef Behari, with its sliced steak soaked in sauce. The texture might have been better served in a wrap (an option for $5.99). Other choices from the spiced meats lineup include ground-beef Seekh Kabob; masala-rubbed Chicken Boti; and dry-rubbed, slow-grilled Beef Boti. Snackable chilled Chaats—including puffed fried dough with yogurt, spiced chickpea, and potato patty variations—round out the choices.

Chapati wasn’t yet fully decorated on our visit, but service was ultra-friendly and accommodating. Like many of the quality Lafayette Square-area restaurants, Chapati doesn’t jump out for those not looking for it, but it should please those longing for the food they grew up with as well as those hungering for something different.•

—Lou Harry

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