Monday, June 24, 2013

Royal India

I love Indian food, but apparently I am not having great luck with it in South Austin. Last fall I went to Asiana (see my post here) and was completely uninspired by the offerings (not to mention the decor), but have come to find out several foodie friends of mine like the place AND it made the Austin Chronicle's "First Plates" critic's picks list. Then last month, I tried Royal India, in the old Estancia Churrascaria location on the westbound Hwy. 290 access road, just before Brodie Lane in Sunset Valley. My friend and I met for an early Saturday evening dinner, and got there at 5:30 when they opened.

I ordered an iced chai tea which then took about 20 minutes to come. And when it did come, it was warm, and didn't have much flavor to it -- very little of the cardamom that I love about a hot or cold chai. So I told the waiter that. He said Indians don't drink it iced, only hot. And I understand his point completely (and no, there was not an iced option on the menu), but don't you think from the hospitality/customer service standpoint, that perhaps he should have said when I ordered it that it would essentially be a watered-down hot chai drink? Basically, we argued over the chai. He took it to the back and returned with more ice in it, but that didn't exactly help either. Fortunately, he did take it off the bill.

And on to the food. We shared an order of the vegetarian samosas, which I found to be bland. No cumin or coriander (or really any spice or salt) could be detected in the mashed potato interior.  Ironically, their online menu describes these as "well-seasoned."
My friend had the Aloo Gobi, a cauliflower and potato dish, which was fairly spicy; this was the best dish we ordered.
I had the lamb (kakori) kabobs from the Royal Tandoor portion of the menu. The ground meat was over-worked, and hence dried out. Tough meat is not very good meat in my book. I think the flavor was okay, though not memorable, but the execution was not.
I really wish I had better things to report. If you have been to Royal India and liked it, please tell me what you ate! I would love to have better things to write about.