Mar 052009

UPDATE: As of Feb. 11, 2010 Blanc’s Westport location has moved to the Country Club Plaza, 4710 Jefferson St.

BlancBlanc is essentially an upscale burger joint, a nice marriage of a classic diner and a fine restaurant. The folks from the Drop who themselves have decent food, are responsible for Blanc, opening it in mid-2008 at Westport Road near Broadway. Blanc has received a fair amount of good press and has apparently been successful enough warrant a satellite location in Leawood’s Mission Farms development, which is quickly becoming the hippest mixed use residential/commercial urban lifestyle center in all of Johnson County, Kansas!

Oh yes, Blanc has a website. Go ahead, click it. Be sure to turn your speakers up nice and loud first.

Anyhow, people love Blanc and it is often crowded. They do a very brisk lunch trade during the week and the weekend evenings are pretty hopping as well because it stays open until 11pm. So I opted to pop in for lunch at a non-standard time: Sunday afternoon.

The space is quite pretty and not as sterile as I remember from my first visit. Sure, there is a lot of white furniture, blond wood and mid-century inspired decorative accents but don’t worry, it’s not like eating in an operating room. After walking in, we were led through the front room toward the back of the restaurant which is a brighter, more casual area with lots of sunlight and fewer tables.

Unfortunately the host stopped in the narrow space between the east wall and the kitchen, seating us at a dark, 2-person table right across from the kitchen door. Not only that but we had a chatty couple about four feet away on one side and the server station on the other. From my seat I could see at least two open tables, roomy and bathed in sunlight, in the back room. Sure they were four-tops, but the place wasn’t full, and it was 2pm. To add insult to injury, I noticed 2 servers wrapping silverware and counting tips back there. So they were apparently good enough for a four-top but we weren’t. To summarize, we had the single worst table in the place. No I didn’t complain and ask to move because if I’m forced to act like a dick it ruins my meal, even if I’m entirely justified. Hosts should just know this stuff, their friggin’ job is seating people.

So the long and short of it is that I got to spend my lunch hour with waitresses inadvertently brushing by my chair on their way to punch orders into the computer and print out checks about one foot away from my hamburger. The chatty couple on the other side was fully in the throes of appetizers and drinks when we sat down. Being able to see and smell the food was tortuous and their lip-smacking exclamations didn’t help much. So yeah, things were not really off on the right foot.

But they quickly got better, beginning with the monstrous beer list. I know it’s kind of a gimmick, but I like being able to try beers I am unfamiliar with, even though I lack the refined palate of others in the local food blogging scene. I ordered an Odell 90 Shilling Ale, which I had never heard of, and it was delicious. So I had two.

Our waitress, who was otherwise excellent, neglected to tell us that they could not make the burger I wanted, so I chose the “Inside Out Burger” on a whim. It came stuffed with blue cheese and topped with bacon, mustard, ketchup, bib lettuce and one large onion ring. The presentation honestly wasn’t much to write home about. Half the topppings had slid off the bun, and the paltry amount of bacon would have made Chimpotle weep.


All anxiety ceased when I took my first two bites. I got the most insane endorphin rush because it was so salty, delicious and full of intense flavor. As I ate further I found that the blue cheese overwhelmed everything else, but I didn’t really care by then; I just wanted to eat more, eat it all.

My cohort had the mahi-mahi which was absolutely fantastic. It reminded me of some seaside places I’ve been to in Florida who do really nice, fresh grilled fish sandwiches. And that’s the beauty of Blanc–you know that they aren’t going to screw up the food. Somebody thought about each sandwich, tried it out, perfected it, searched for the right bread, the right condiments and messed with it until it was right.


The side dishes here are all good: the onion rings, the truffle fries (!!), and even the sweet potato fries are perfectly executed. And yes they come in widdy bitty shopping carts. They are insanely cute and I’m terrified that if I ever get drunk at Blanc I’m gonna try to walk out with one under my coat.

Oh yeah, so here’s the condiment situation:


Aw, it’s sooooo tiny and lonely! This is an attractive little tray of homemade condiments: ketchup, mustard and some kind of chipotle aioli that I didn’t eat because, well, it’s just not for me. Inevitably I use all the ketchup and have to ask for more. The waitress, undoubtedly used to people eating all the ketchup asked if she could bring us some more before it was gone. So she brought out a souffle cup with about five times as much as the original amount. So in the end, we ended up wasting more ketchup than if we had received a normal portion to begin with.

Recently the good folks at Hot Blog on a Stick asked what type of condiment goes with sweet potato fries. I can honestly say that those at Blanc are so good as to require no condiments whatsoever. Seriously.

So I’ve written a lot of words here, and it may still be unclear what my overall opinion of Blanc is. Let me say it now: I’m just a giant smartass and I really like this place. The food pretty much rules although it is very rich, very filling and on the salty side. The service has always been good and although the clientele can be sort of douchey, the waitstaff are pretty laid back. And their lunch special is surprisingly affordable: any burger and any side for $8.

Read more:

Blanc Burgers + Bottles on Urbanspoon


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Burrito Bros.: City Market

 Posted by at 6:07 am
Mar 032009

While I like Burrito Bros., I honestly don’t understand the success of chains like Chipotle, Qdoba, Pancheros and their ilk. It’s like a festival of blandness; the meat never tastes like much, the salsas are always disappointing, and everything comes on a damn flour tortilla. Not to mention the fact that real Mexican restaurants do this stuff way better for the same price. It just seems like a cheap way to deliver a shit-ton of food into your system. Of course, midwesterners love it.

Burritos also have this college studenty, dumbass vibe that I really don’t care for. To be more precise, burritos are like wraps for hippies.

So naturally I put off going to Burrito Bros. for a while even though response around town has been quite positive. I just don’t understand the great appeal of the concept.

Indeed comparisons to Chipotle abound, and it makes sense. The menu at Burrito Bros. is similar in its Mexican-inflected simplicity to the increasingly ubiquitous fast food powerhouse.

Burrito Bros. is located on the west side of the market complex. I’m trying to remember what previously occupied the space? Was it perhaps a weird gift/souvenir shop? Somebody refresh my memory here. Anyhow, the space is pleasant enough with an organge-ish interior and a few tables. Here is a terrible photo of the menu board.

Burrito Bros.

They have burritos, tacos, quesadillas, taco salads and that’s about all. They toss in a nice handful of chips with every order. Everything has good, if not overpowering flavor. The pico cuts through nicely and is highly acidic. I enjoyed the carnitas burrito on my last visit. It was large, easily enough food for one person and then some. I didn’t finish the whole thing, and I am kind of a pig.

Burrito Bros.

So in a word, it’s good. It is exactly what you would expect in terms of food and flavor. If you like Chipotle, you will like this. Moreover it is locally owned and a thousand times more worthy of your business.

Burrito Bros.

This is the epitome of a small, family run joint. These guys are taking the restaurant very seriously, but they are also having a good time. They are planning some more signage for the exterior, and perhaps some outdoor seating for the warmer months. I say “perhaps” because I was eavesropping and didn’t get all the details. Burrito Bros. also has a Twitter account, a nice developing trend; I like knowing that you can connect with the business in that manner if you want. They also shot a video for youtube on their opening day back in October 2008. Unfortunately the shaky cam and overly loud Brazilian(?) soundtrack make it virtually unwatchable, but I appreciate the effort.

However like any small business owners I think you can see a little fear in their eyes. Will this venture work out? Frankly I’d be scared shitless given all the decent local restaurants that have gone out of business recently.

But Burrito Bros. has reason to be hopeful. The menu is small and items share a lot of the same ingredients. That means a smaller world of ingredients to purchase, store and prepare. The hours are limited to lunch time right now. Being open 11-3pm is not ideal for the long term, but it certainly keeps them from having to pay someone to stand there all night without any business. The traffic they get from the market should be substantial when warmer climes come around. They were smart to open early and take a while to figure things out before it’s showtime this summer.

According to their website the owners also use other City Market vendors to procure a lot of their produce and foodstuffs. Considering the number of people who work in the Market, I’m sure they are generating plenty of good will that should result in more burrito sales. Lastly, these are really nice people. They talk to everyone who comes into the place and I genuinely believe that they want to serve good food and make their customers happy.

Oh, and this guy really likes their guacamole:

My only real complaint? Styrofoam cups. It’s amazing how prevalent they are in this day and age, but let’s wait until they start making a buck or two before pressuring them to change to a more environmentally conscious product.

Read more:


Burrito Bros. on Urbanspoon

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South OP in brief: Two Asian spots

 Posted by at 6:29 am
Feb 262009

Not long ago I had occasion to spend a few days in southern Overland Park, a locale that I am largely unfamiliar with in terms of lunching options. Fortunately I was able to eat at two very serviceable Asian restaurants, both of them small, informal, locally owned and pretty tasty.

One-Bite Japanese Grill is located on 135th in a little strip shopping center near Antioch. For those who reside in the area, it’s behind the Babies R’ Us. Aaaah, suburbia. This little spot turns out to be a very suavely decorated casual Japanese restaurant. As the name indicates, they feature a number of smaller plates, particularly Okonomi-Yaki–an omelet-type concoction cooked with the meat of your choice and topped with cabbage and mayonnaise. One-Bite’s “Grill Lunch” however, is essentially a box, similar to those you see at other Asian spots around town. I had the Tonkatsu, a simple preparation of lightly breaded pork, served with rice, salad and dumplings The real standout here were the dumplings–delicate, piping hot and delicious.

If it weren’t for the odd location I would visit more often. It looks perfect for lunch with essentially an updated classic diner layout: a row of booths along one side with a lunch counter overlooking the gleaming stainless steel kitchen on the other side. The rest of the place is colorful despite minimal artwork. I wish I had brought my camera.

There is a characteristically excellent Pitch review if you want more info.


One Bite Japanese Grill on Urbanspoon


I also stopped by Fusion Chinese at 135th and Switzer one afternoon. This is a popular spot for Chinese take out in the area. Upon enetering I was surprised at how small the space was, but dine-in customers are not an afterthought as they are at many take-out oriented places. The place appears to be family owned and the servers are super friendly and attentive. Despite its size, it is a good place to bring kids.

As the name suggests, there is more going on here than at your typical Chinese takeout joint. They dedicate a fair amount of verbiage on the menu to their health conscious preparation techniques, including steaming, grilling, wok-frying and other methods that do not rely on much oil. They also offer brown rice with every entree which is a HUGE bonus for me, unless I am craving traditional sticky white rice. Regardless, both kinds are available. In general Fusion touts itself as a “healthy alternative to traditional Chinese food” and delivers on that promise with very good food.

Both Fusion and One-Bite are deserving of their own full fledged reviews, but I wasn’t planning on posting about them when I visited. I’d love to hear others’ experiences with these restaurants in preparation for a more substantive visit in the future.

Fusion Chinese on Urbanspoon

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Feb 232009

I had a review in the works for this place, a good little burger joint at 87th and Quivira which opened several months ago. But I went back a couple weeks ago and saw this:


When I paid my first visit at the urging of Jenny Vergara back in January, I was pleased to encounter another burger/fries/chicken joint offering fresh ingredients, conscientious preparation with a blue-collar sensibility in the spirit of Big Bam’s, Burger Joint, and Grandstand. Sometimes you want a good burger without the pretense of Blanc or Chefburger. Fortunately we still have some options. But the reasons for Parkway Cafe’s disappearance from the KC food landscape are a mystery to me.

Parkway Cafe on Urbanspoon

Adrian’s Cafe: 9940 College Blvd.

 Posted by at 6:24 am
Feb 202009

Be careful when visiting Adrian’s, you don’t want to get lost in those creeeepy Corporate Woods. Apparently when it was built, Corporate Woods was a big deal in the world of suburban office parks. Nestled in the natural landscape of multi-lane College blvd. between 69 Highway and Antioch in Overland Park, it consists of a series of office buildings and shops insulated by a few trees, and lots and lots of land. As the website says:

A perfect environment made even better by your presence. Thank you to the tenant’s of Corporate Woods®

Nothing says professionalism like a misused apostrophe and a trademark symbol.

Adrian's Cafe

Anyway, the Corporate Woods shopping center caters to the lunching needs of local woodland denizens with several pretty good restaurants. The site is home to Garozzo’s, Rosati’s, Chipotle, and First Watch, but the noblest lunch spot of them all is Adrian’s Cafe.

They don’t mess around here; the menu consists of sandwiches, salads and soups. That, my friends, is the essence of lunch.

This is all about counter service. One employee at the beginning of the line takes your order and makes your sandwich. He or she slices the bread for each sandwich by hand from a seemingly fresh baked loaf. Bread slices are a good inch and a half thick, and are nicely crusty with a surprisingly light and fluffy interior. Most importantly, they have a quality rye that tastes like caraway.

You can get half a sandwich for about $4.25 which sounds like a lot but they are pretty large. A whole sandwich is about $6.50, depending on what you get. I typically order a half sandwich and salad, which you can have for 6.50 as well. Incidentally the side salads all seem very good, though most are prepared ahead of time and available in plastic containers on the deli counter. I’m a fan of the potato salad in particular. They also have three or four homemade soups each day. Recently I tried the chicken noodle and was favorably impressed with the homemade noodles and fresh vegetables but found the temperature to be far below what must be required. Please folks get that temp up before the busybodies good people of the Johnson County Health Department come calling. Oh, and don’t forget a cookie on your way down the counter. They are seriously good.

The corned beef here is really tasty too. The sandwich guy looked at me a little funny once when I asked for corned beef on rye with Swiss cheese, mustard and nothing else. I’m not interested in lettuce, tomato or onions on my corned beef sandwich. Hell I almost passed on the cheese. But the sandwich stood up to the test with flying colors.


The standout here is the service, which has been reliably friendly in my several visits to Adrian’s. Last time my bill was $8.81. The guy at the register said, “tell me the truth sir, do you like pennies?”

I replied, “why no, I do not care for pennies one whit.”

He gave me an enthusiastic cheer and forked over 20 cents in shiny silver coinage. He probably uses that joke multiple times a day but I really do appreciate both the sentiment and the obvious joy he takes in the work.

While the food is good, the main thing I like about Adrian’s is the concept. It is simple, quick and enjoyable. It also is the closest thing to a normal deli we have in the KC area.

Read more:

Adrian's Cafe on Urbanspoon


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Mike’s Tavern: 5424 Troost

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
Jan 252009

The incarnation of Mike’s Tavern described below closed in mid-2009 but has since re-opened under new management. The interior, menu and staff have changed completely. I wrote a little piece for KC Free Press about the changes.

It’s not really fair to even write about this place. It’s not a lunch spot, it’s a bar. And frankly we should hold bars to different standards. There are no waiters, just bartenders. There are no proper cooks, just college kids who make food for extra money. There are no bouncers, just drunks who push a mop across the floor once in a while for free beer. Nonetheless I have a soft spot for Mike’s Tavern because it has been around a while (since 1965 I believe), it is one of the few decent places near UMKC/Rockhurst to get a beer, and it is really trying hard to make a go of it.

The menu is a heart attack waiting to happen: Bratwurst, Italian sausage sandwich, Cheeseburger, Philly cheese steaks and hilarious salads. Hilarious because they are basically sandwiches in disguise. Hence the Fried Chicken Bacon salad, Philly Cheese steak salad and the Italian Sausage salad.


I like the food at Mike’s well enough but the place totally fails in being able to provide a fast, efficient lunch in a consistent manner. These people don’t even realize if they have table service or not. Sure you can sit down and the bartender will bring you a menu, but you may have to go to the bar to place your order because he’s ignoring you. He’ll run a tab but you will have no idea what cost what–but it doesn’t matter because it will always cost less than it should. Rule of thumb? If you eat lunch at Mike’s just sit at the damn bar. Things will be quick and easy. And yes, there should be plenty of room for you because the lunch rush at Mike’s consists of five regulars. If you have a group, go ahead and sit at a table but don’t expect to get out of there in less than an hour.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Mike’s is perhaps the most depressing, dank, and lonely place of all time to eat lunch. Seriously it is dark, veritably empty at the height of lunch hour and it still smells vaguely of pre-ban era Basic Lights. Or maybe it’s the old guy smoking at the bar, I don’t know.

Despite all these things, Mike’s actually has pretty damn good bar food. I was a little scared when the crusty dude with the bad goatee and the limp got up from the bar to make our food, but it turned out very well. The tenderloin was well fried and put together with some degree of care. Mike’s burgers are particularly good as well. I wanted to try the bratwurst but they were out of sausage on the day I visited.


You can get tots, onion rings, or fries with your sandwich, which I appreciate. What I did not appreciate, however, was the shameless flaunting of generic condiments.


This place really should be more popular given all the students in the neighborhood, not to mention the staff of UMKC and Rockhurst. About a year ago, Mike’s underwent some renovation to both the interior and exterior which was much needed. The exterior is very nice with the addition of lamps, a park bench and some plants in the warmer months. Inside, they have removed a wall and replaced most of the tables. The men’s room is among the worst in KC but there are paper towels, soap and hot water which is all I’m looking for where food is served. The decor consists of a lot of Rockhurst gear, in addition to the usual stuff you find in bars, like beer signs and stuffed moose heads.


Check out these sweet short-shorts!

Short shorts

The staff and the owner are super friendly people. This is kind of a dive, but not a place anyone should be wary of, even at night. They will make you feel welcome without kissing your ass in the process. For a bar, that’s really all you can ask for.

This is not a place to go eat lunch when the weather is nice. But if it’s dreary and you’re stumbling down Troost looking for a beer and a cheeseburger, it gets the job done.

Read more:


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Jan 142009

The dumplings at Po’s Dumpling Bar are definitely homemade, but they won’t knock your socks off. What will knock your socks off is the marinated cabbage and pork soup. Seriously, this was one of the most interesting and delicious things I’ve put in my mouth all year. I think they should change the name to “Po’s Marinated Cabbage and Pork Soup Bar.” You don’t like cabbage, you say? Well, there’s no hope for you. May I suggest the Orange Beef?

Po's Dumpling Bar

Anyway, I like the vibe of Po’s Dumpling Bar. It is very casual without the design and pomp of nearby Asian powerhouse Blue Koi. Po’s is a little more DIY in its decor and a tad less pompous than Blue Koi in terms of its menu, ambiance and service. Of course these are things that May pointed out a long time ago.


Po’s is basically a Chinese restaurant, and they have the menu to prove it. They offer a few typical Chinese-American staples like Cashew Chicken, Beef with Broccoli and Sweet and Sour Chicken under the somewhat misleading menu heading “Traditional Lunches.” Though I don’t often order these sorts of things it is nice to know that there are options for…uh, people who like that kind of food. You know, like your parents.

The menu also features a number of noodles, soups, and noodle soups. I ordered something called “pan-fried noodle” with beef which was a little bit of a surprise. It was a rather pedestrian stir-fry on a bed of crunchy noodles.

Pan-fried noodles

I have always been mystified by the crunchy chow mein style noodles, and I remained mystified. I just did not find it to be a pleasant texture component, particularly when some of the vegetables were crunchy as well. Even had the noodles been soft, i would not have been thrilled with the dish, though. The beef was on the tough side and had a minerally undertone that I found unpleasant. The preponderance of baby corn was likewise a disappointment. Between the baby corn, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, most of the vegetables came from cans.

The lunch entree aside, my experience was actually quite good at Po’s. The real action seems to be on the appetizer section of the menu. They offer steamed dumplings, pan fried dumplings, shrimp dumplings, several kinds of buns, seaweed salad, and these delightful lettuce wraps with minced chicken and hoisin sauce.

lettuce wraps

They also have a ton of soups available. If they are all as delicious as the cabbage and pork soup, I’m going to be a regular customer. The bowl size ($4.95) is easily enough for two people to have their fill before a meal or one person as his meal. I couldn’t tell what kind of broth they used but it was as strong as a beef broth. It contained delectable, floating bits of shitake mushroom, green onions, cabbage and pork. I can’t adequately describe the flavor for you, just go try it.

Marinated Cabbage and Pork Soup

Po’s will not compete with Blue Koi for the yuppie dinnertime crowd, but for those looking for a quick, cheap lunch, it can be very good indeed. If you have visited and had something you enjoyed, let me know in the comments. I think once you know what you like, you’ll be a repeat customer. I’ll be back for that soup.

Read more:

Po's Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon


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Taste: 7938 Santa Fe Dr. – CLOSED

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 132009

Taste inhabits the space formerly occupied by Tonic, a night-clubby joint in old downtown Overland Park. It has been reinvented as a moderately highbrow but casual restaurant with an ambitious menu. Indeed there is little to no overlap between the dinner and lunch menus.

It is a nice looking place, though a little more bar than restaurant.


For lunch they specialize in a lunch trio consisting of 3 small dishes on one plate ($11). You get to choose from a list that is impressive both in its size and selection. Nearly everything sounds delicious. Mini fried crabcake burger with spicy remoulade, Thai chili scented chicken wings with sesame seeds and spicy ginger dipping sauce, –screw it there are too many things to name, so just go look at the menu. I’ll wait.

See what I mean? That is a hell of a lot to choose from, and each item sounds meticulously thought-out and presented. As a result, the process of ordering can be a mess, particularly if you have a large group. Regardless of the size of your group, the servers have clearly been trained to provide a painfully thorough and unnecessary introduction to the menu. I am very skeptical of places where the first words of of the waiter’s mouth is “Is this your first time dining with us today?” It’s a restaurant for chrissakes, not adventureland. Stop trying to explain things and let the food speak for itself. His spiel was complete with a few recommended dishes which the The Big Book of Waitstaffery must say is a good idea in case your diners are complete idiots.

For this reason and others I would almost prefer to see less choice. That’s right, fewer available items for the Choose Three lunch special. You know why? I think the preposterous amount of specialization leads to unrealistic expectations of how perfect and delicious everything will be.

It turns out I was underwhelmed by everything tastewise. The little buns used to hold the mini burgers were too large and easily masked any subtlety evident in the tiny little patties or the condiments for that matter. If the blue cheese burger couldn’t take it, the rare piece of “seared coriander tuna steak” was utterly helpless.

Lunch trio

It turns out that I would rather have a really good full sized entree or sandwich than an overcooked miniburger accompanied by 2 other mediocre dishes. And they have those, but they are not nearly as appetizing as the small plates: Cheeseburger, steak sandwich, pork tenderloin, grilled cheese…is this the Westport Flea Market all of a sudden?


It took a little longer than usual for food to arrive, but given the nature of the menu I full expected it. The various permutations that are available to each patron are dizzying in their variety; I can see how a kitchen would be totally overwhelmed during busy times. But I certainly tip my cap to these folks for churning out this complicated menu day after day.

I can honestly say that I will try Taste again, because it is impossible to rate the place accurately based on one experience. More than that, I am eager to try a few other items. But I wish they would reign in the overzealous servers, focus on fewer, more delicious small plates, and oh yeah, get rid of the totally obnoxious tv that advertises stuff to my face while I pee.

Read more:

Taste on Urbanspoon


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The DLC Speaks

 Posted by at 6:59 pm
Jan 102009

A few weeks ago Jenny Vergara, author of the great local food blog Making of a Foodie asked if she could interview me for a weekly segment she does for Live From Chef Jasper’s Kitchen, a weekly food talk show on 710 AM.

So she gave me a call one day and we chatted about this blog for a few moments. It was a fun experience. If you’re interested give a listen below

The DLC interviewed by Jenny Vergara on ‘Live From Jasper’s Kitchen.’

The show airs every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Masalas: 7301 W 91st St – CLOSED

 Posted by at 4:27 am
Jan 102009

Don’t even try to go here on a Sunday afternoon unless you have time. The place is packed with whatever the Hindu equivalent of the “after church crowd” is. I’m telling you, it’s stuffed to the gills with Indian families hitting the buffet en masse. During the week it’s a somewhat different affair, though still largely patronized by Indians. It doesn’t take a genius to know that this is a very, very good sign.

Johnson County is full of good Indian restaurants. I’m not going to venture a guess as to why JoCo seems to have better Indian grub than the city proper, but rest assured it is true. KC has Taj Mahal on Wornall, Korma Sutra in Westport and that place on 39th street that no one I know has ever been to (any place I’m missing?). JoCo has Paradise India, India Palace, Ruchi, Touch of Asia (!), Kabob & Curry and now Masalas, which could be the nicest of them all. This is not a low-brow Indian buffet, but rather a very classy looking establishment with decor that knocks the socks off any other place in the vicinity.


For those who haven’t seen it, Masalas is located in the old Ohana Grill building right in front of Whole Foods. It takes up half the building; the other half is clearly under renovation. Since Masalas’ windows are tinted, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought it wasn’t open yet. You can’t see inside at all, so when you approach the doorway and draw aside the heavy curtains it is like entering a secret little world. A secret world that everyone knows about, because this place is doing very good business so far.

The buffet is tucked away in the corner. Dishes are presented in fancy, shiny silver chafing dishes. Several cooks work behind a counter curiously labeled “Masala Factory.” I don’t think the choice here is much larger than any other buffet, but it does seem like there are more vegetarian options. The usual suspects appear: Tandoori chicken, pakorahs, Dal Makhani, Aloo Ghobi, Chicken Tikka Masala, a couple soups, the usual chutneys, two kinds of rice, fruit and other desserts. There was a strange chicken dish that looked just like a Chinese stir-fry that I didn’t even try. No samosas that day either.


One odd omission on the buffet was Naan, the delicious fluffy bread that is a staple of Indian cuisine. I went back to my table and the server immediately brought out a large basket of freshly baked naan. They do this at Taj Mahal too, and it really makes a huge difference to have it freshly baked.


I tried a number of dishes and I’ll try to remember what was what. The tandoori chicken was excellent-the only comparable tandoori appears on the India Palace buffet. Chana masala, a delicious chick pea dish was actually surprisingly spicy. I had two helpings. The sweet corn and spinach was also excellent. The ubiquitous butter chicken was way too rich for my taste, and I couldn’t finish it. I had some chicken dish (can’t recall the name) where the meat was all hacked and shredded to hell. Naturally I had high hopes, but it wasn’t all that flavorful. I remember some of the food being a tad on the sweet side. Undoubtedly the high point of the meal was the goat curry. Mind you there is a little gristle and bone to content with, but it is worth the effort to experience the slightly spicy, tangy gravy with a touch of anise flavor.

In general, this is a very good lunch buffet. The service was excellent too. When I came back from a second trip to the buffet, my dirty plate had been cleared, and I had a re-fill and a new napkin. The buffet will set you back $10, a drink another $2, but I really think it is worth the price. If the lunchtime crowds persist, it may become a slight annoyance given the availability of other quality Indian buffets in the area. But anyone who likes Indian food should try Masalas.

Read more:

Masalas Authentic Indian Diner on Urbanspoon


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