Our next evening in London was a bit of an exploration. We started off by heading to Seven Dials for drinks at Detroit. Despite a name that makes most Americans snicker, it’s actually a rather good cocktail bar, and for bonus points, we got to meet up with Richard Barnett, the author of the most excellent Book of Gin. After Detroit, we decided to do dinner in the area. The immediate Soho/Covent Garden area has rather a few decent Indian places (in particular, we’ve previously enjoyed The Punjab, London’s oldest Indian restaurant, which was booked solid this time). We ended up at Mela, an Indian place on Shaftesbury that has a rather good reputation as well.
Over the 14 or so years I’ve been visiting Canton, MI, it has increasingly becoming a suburb that’s attracting a lot of immigrants, and as a result now has a pretty significant Middle Eastern and Indian population. Along with this, it has picked up a rather large number of restaurants and stores, with some of the most notable growth being in Indian food and groceries (see my 2011 review of Neehee’s, for example). So I’m used to going through strip malls in the area and seeing some new Indian eateries, and this time I was particularly intrigued by one of them: Curry on Crust, which serves "Desi-Style Pizza"
Well, my travels to the DC area are always a good excuse for getting together with several of my friends in the area. So when I had a free evening on my visit earlier this month, I called up some friends, and Steve, Allie, Leslie, and I all met up at Rasika in DC’s Penn Quarter. Rasika has been on my hit list for a few years, since it’s a perennial top finisher in most of the local restaurant review guides, getting particularly good marks from Eater DC and the Washington Post. It has a reputation of having the area’s best Indian food, with an emphasis on modern and vibrant interpretations of classic Indian dishes. It’s also been on a lot of other people’s hit lists, since I was completely unable to actually get reservations for our group of four… but they also like to keep a good number of tables available for the walk-in crowd. They very happily gave us a nice table for four in their odd little front room (at some point they expanded into the space next door, and there are two tables sitting in what used to be the entry vestibule for that suite) with the promise that we had to be done and out the door by 7.
And no rest for the weary. Coming back from Chicago, I immediately turned around and left on a work trip to Dayton. Dayton’s not a bad place. I particularly like the National Museum of the United States Air Force, since nothing like a few hours of looking at airplans like SR-71s to cheer you up (at least if you are an engineer like me). But, to be honest, Dayton is always a bit of a challenging culinary destination for me, primarily since I mostly seem to end up staying in suburbs like Beavercreek, and I’m really not into places like The Olive Garden. But it’s also not a culinary wasteland. I actually rather like The Pine Club, which is one of those olde schoole steak houses that still seems to be stuck at some point in the 1960s. And, as I mentioned before in my review of Maharajah of Dayton, thriving Indian community (primarily Punjabi), and as a result, quite a few decent Indian restaurants, although most of them seem to focus on buffets. But a few of them do indeed have some rather good food, and from two visits there, I can say that Jeet is one of the better ones.
A few weeks ago, my work travels had me traveling for an off-site meeting near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, so my coworker and I found ourselves staying a night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Beavercreek, Ohio, a modest suburb of Dayton. This is the kind of situation that happens to me a lot, primarily due to my mix of (mostly-governmental) clients: I find myself stuck, often without a rental car, in a suburb outside of a non-major metro area, with few options aside from the hotel’s on-site restaurant, or a loooong walk to someplace only marginally better (like an Olive Garden). This looked to be the case for Beavercreek as well, but as we were pulling into the hotel, I noticed an Indian place in the adjacent strip mall, called Maharajah of Dayton. I also then remember that the Dayton area actually has a fairly large Indian population (indeed, there’s actually a fairly substantial Hindu temple there), so I decided it was worth checking out.
You know, every time we go visit Carol’s family in Canton, MI, I always find that the western part of the metro areas has someplace interesting to try that I didn’t notice before. One time, it was the halal butcher shop called Mr. Goat (which I didn’t review, since it was just a butcher shop, and now it’s moved). Another time, I discovered that the little Japanese noodle shop, Matsu Chan, was actually really good. Another time, it was Bode’s Corned Beef House”. This time, it was a place in a strip mall on Ford Road called “Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food”. Well, we had been through enough, um, Midwestern cuisine that we were craving something a little spicy, and decided to give it a try…
On last month’s trip to London, we decided that at least one fancy dinner with my brother and sister-in-law was in order, and my brother got reservations at Amaya, an Indian place in Knightbridge. Indian food in London has gotten to be almost a cliche, with all sort of little takeaway curry shops open serving out such dishes as Chicken Tikka Masala and various Baltis. But there are a few places that really stand out from the crowd, including The Punjab (in Covent Garden, one of London’s oldest Indian restaurants), and the more recent efforts of Masala World (of which Amaya is one).