I was accompanying a friend, she was hungry, I already ate, so the venue choice was all her’s. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from blogging at her expense.
We stood outside its brick wall and by its elephant shaped sandwich board, looking in. There were enough window for a clear view. We were still in contemplation. Such a large space and only one table sat? Was the place any good? Was this the cuisine she wanted to eat? Eventually it was a pedestrian passing by that cinched it for us. Without stopping his stride, he told us how good he thought the place was. We went in soon after.
I cannot see myself coming all the way downtown for Indian food. And stopping at Gastown of all places for it. Downtown know for its night life and drink scene. Gastown, an area to visit for its pubs and craft kitchens. Where as I find the Indian cuisine homey and warm, like eating at a your mom’s house in sweats. Comfortable, comforting. Having to dress up and walk around, I don’t find downtown all that relaxing. I find the Main Street area and around Fraser more inviting, and where I would head to first for Indian cuisine. I instead would take advantage of what the Gastown area had instead and satisfy my cravings for Indian cuisine else where. But for those living in the neighbourhood, I can see this restaurant being very popular, especially with no other option like it around.
We were greeted at the door by what looked like a father and son team. They welcomed us into their history rich restaurant, leading us to a table by the window. We would be the first of many to be seated. No longer would those passing by think the place wasn’t good. The tables by the windows would soon be all sat, and the larger groups would fill up the rest of the first floor dining area.
Like the exterior, the interior was red with brick walls. On them hung Indian tapestries and Indian art in bold colours. Scenes of women in elaborate saris and couples held together in tender embraces. The dining area opened up to two floors. A studio with vaulted ceilings and a skylight lined with stain glass. Similar glass was used in the lamp shades dangling in their bar/lounge area. Each table was draped with a maroon cloth and set with paper placemats. Like all the other decor elements it gave the place mixed messages. Casual yet formal, dressy dining meets 70’s bar.
We had been drinking before and were planning to continue, so my other guest grabbed a high ball. She gambled on a gin and seven. We were surprised that her choice was listed as $7, but came to $10. We didn’t question it, assuming it was because she went for a top shelf liquor. The drink was a simple mix of gin and seven-up with the choice between tanqueray and beefeater. I on the other hand was iffy on getting a cocktail here, so instead took a break from drinking all together. You don’t go to such a restaurant to drink. My East Indian guest concurred. She stated that she has never seen many if any options for alcohol at traditional Indian restaurants, mostly to do with religious reasons.
My hungry guest went for the vegetarian “Palak paneer”. It was made with fresh spinach and Indian cream cheese, served with a side of naan and rice. It didn’t look like much, but was chalk full of flavour. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of cream spinach for dinner. The white chunks of Indian cream cheese was more like tofu. Mild like tofu, with a similar crumbly texture. The whole lot was creamy like a spread and hearty like a meal. But with no frame of reference to judge off of, this was hard to review.
The airy naan was the best part. Fluffy like a flaky savory pancake. But like the rice, it was more on the tasteless side. More for texture and to fill you up.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I don’t have any reason to not return, but as I have mentioned earlier, it will not be my first choice for Indian or a restaurant to stop at in Gastown. This one is for the locals. Having to drive into downtown Vancouver to reach it, isn’t convenient for me, especially with the lack of accessible parking. But as a long standing staple in the area since 1983, it is an impressive landmark. Don’t deny your cravings.