Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Restaurant Review: India Palace in Chelmsford, MA

Perhaps a review of this place is a little premature, since I haven't actually eaten at the restaurant itself. But I have stopped by there twice this week, and will very likely stop by at least once or twice more before the week is over.

While driving from my hotel to the training center Monday morning, I noticed the sign for the India Palace Restaurant. It's hard to know me and not know my love for Indian food, so I made a note to stop by on the way home. That evening, I stopped in and asked for a menu for takeout. A very friendly conversation with the host ensued, and I ended up asking for his recommendations. Obviously a man of good taste, he recommended the chicken tikka masala, one of my favorite Indian dishes. I also ordered a garlic naan and a mango lassi. He placed the order and we continued to chat, mostly about Boston.

I told him that I was planning to venture into Wellesley the next day, and he recommended a couple of routes, including the MBTA. He even went into the kitchen to grab a cook who uses the commuter rail frequently to go into Boston. The cook was a native of India who spoke no English, and the host translated further advice for me. My food finally arrived, and I thanked him for the advice and wished him a good evening.

The tikka masala wasn't as spicy as I expected for "medium" heat, but it was still quite good. I don't suppose there was anything incredibly special about it, other than that it was really good. I don't know that I could ever get sick of it. The garlic naan was much chewier than I'm used to with naan, but also much tastier than I'm used to. In fact, I think it might even beat out the garlic naan at the Bombay House in Provo, UT. The mango lassi was unfortunately pretty unspectacular. Not bad by any means, but nothing to write home about.

I went back again today, low on cash and unable to pick up a garlic naan or a drink. The host recognized me instantly and asked if I had enjoyed my trip into Boston. This time we discussed India and Pakistan while waiting for my order. I discovered that he was native to India (which I had guessed anyway from his slight accent) and that he'd been living in America for about 6 years, in Manchester, NH. But you don't want to know about him, you want to know about the food.

I went with chicken korma, also a long-time favorite. It as spicier than the tikka masala, and at least as tasty. I was disappointed by overly-large chunks of chicken, but my sadness turned to gladness when I found that I could cut it with a fork. I also would like to have seen more golden raisins and cashews, but it was good nonetheless.

Have I had better Indian food? Yes. Have I had better service while receiving my Indian food? Not even close. I have yet to see what service is like when I actually eat inside the restaurant, but I have pretty high hopes.

The food itself was good, but the friendliness of the staff that I met, and their ability to make me feel like I was at home, even thought I was over halfway across the country from my home and they were halfway across the world from their home, raises their score a little. I award the India Palace Restaurant in Chelmsford three Bourdains.

Update: My wife and I were able to dine inside the India Palace Restaurant on Friday night. The service was even better than expected. Nobody came to our table without a smile. The host recognized me immediately, and make sure to check on us regularly. The food, which did not have to endure a 15 minute drive to my hotel, was significantly better. I had another mango lassi, and it did not disappoint. My wife ordered lamb saag, which seems to be her favorite Indian dish of late. The service alone was enough to bump up my review another half a Bourdain. So was the improved quality of the food. I'm officially upgrading the India Palace in Chelmsford to four Bourdains.

1 comment:

  1. WHY didn't you call me for restaurant recommendations? You were in my hood! One Mill Street in Lawrence was amazing when I lived there and there was a really great Thai place called Sweet Basil in North Andover. WHY Joseph WHY?

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