Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dining Out, Valentine's Day Edition: IndiGo Indian Bistro

So Monday night is admittedly not the best choice for a romantic evening out, but Valentine's Day is Valentine's Day, and the Lovely Bride© and I took the opportunity to return to an old tradition for us: celebrating V-Day with Indian food. <Mumble-mumble> years ago, during the first year of our married life, we chose for our first married Valentine's dinner, more or less at random, an Indian place called Taj Mahal (and really, aren't nearly half of all Indian restaurants called that?) in a strip shopping center along the Gulf Freeway (aka I-45) in Houston, Texas. By happy chance, we had a lovely, romantic meal, and fell in love with Indian cuisine. Not that we needed an excuse to eat Indian, of course, but for years afterward, we made it a point to spend Valentine's Day in an Indian restaurant, and often celebrated our anniversary that way, too.

This year, Sheen and the crew at IndiGo made it easy — and delightful — to revive our tradition, serving a special four-course Valentine's Day menu that really hit the spot.

The appetizer course consisted of a choice of Shamm Savera (spinach cups stuffed with cottage cheese and served on a tangy honey-tomato sauce) and Karriveppela Shrimp Fry (South Indian marinated battered fried shrimp served with curry leaves): I chose the shrimp, while my valentine chose the spinach cups, and both were perfect. The sauce on the spinach app was reminiscent of the LB's favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala; my shrimp was crispy and invitingly spicy.

The salad course — Cupid Salad — was a tomato-infused potato salad served in a pappadum cup atop a bed of lettuce seasoned (and dyed Valentine's Day pink) with beet juice.

Three entrees — vegetarian, chicken, and lamb — were offered, and we chose the Murgh Lababdhar (egg-coated grilled chicken served sizzling atop shredded vegetables) and the Southern Lamb Pepper Masala (grilled chunks of lamb served on onions sauteed with coriander and black pepper). My lamb was deeply flavorful, with the coriander and pepper providing a perfect match and the dots of hot sauce on the plate serving as more than arty decoration. The bite of chicken I managed to snag from my date's plate was perfectly cooked, moist and juicy, with a delicate, almost floral bouquet of spices.

The Lemon Ginger Parfait made for an ideal ending: A velvety smooth frozen concoction, delicately spiced with ginger and served with cut grapes and pieces of strawberry providing a perfectly romantic finale to the meal.

The only sad thing was the number of empty tables when we were there, at about 7:00 pm. Maybe it was a bit early for a romantic dinner, or maybe it's just that it was Monday, after all. But one of the best things about IndiGo is their readiness to make creative excursions beyond their regular menu on special occasions; it's a shame if anyone who loves great Indian food... or just great cooking... missed this.

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