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- FOODIE FILES: Lazy August drinking
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FEED ME: Finally! Indian food
The Indian isn’t the kind of Indian restaurant I had been hoping for. I wanted pastel-colored saris hanging on the walls and tapestries of elephants with tiny, mirrored discs sewn around the edges. I was looking for the kind of Indian restaurant where there is a 2001 calendar in the bathroom, but no toilet paper. The kind of standard Indian place you find in strip malls across the country and may call a few times a week for take-out.
While conjuring my dream Indian eatery, I had briefly forgotten I was in Jackson, where we don’t really do standard. After all, we have a restaurant (Amangani) that serves an omelet with an ounce of Osetra caviar for $210.
The Indian, which finally opened this winter after many months of suspense on Center Street next to e. leaven, has toilet paper in its bathrooms. There isn’t a single sari or tapestry in sight. Saddest of all, I will not be calling The Indian for take-out a couple of times a week.
This is not because I don’t want to eat The Indian’s food a couple of times a week. I would live on its butter chicken ($16) for the rest of my life. Nor is it because entrees are between $15 and $22. It is because The Indian has marble-topped tables, high-backed booths upholstered in dark leather, and a cocktail named Tiger’s Milk. A large part of the enjoyment here is soaking up its colonial English interior, while sipping several Tiger’s Milks ($10, almond milk, cardamom, cane sugar, Irish whiskey).
While The Indian is not the Indian restaurant I had dreamed of, it is a dream restaurant. Its butter chicken (murg makhani) is particularly dreamy. Creamed tomatoes, ginger, cashews, fenugreek leaves and honey combine in a sauce you will be sopping up the last bits of with your naan ($3). Fair warning, butter chicken or not, it may be best to order a naan per person as it is not huge.
Lamb vindaloo has been my favorite standard Indian dish for a decade. I was excited to see that The Indian’s small menu, with just five Indian entrees and three Thai-inspired entrees, included it. Had we ordered only the lamb vindaloo ($18), I’m sure it would have blown my mind, even if this version is not meant to blow your taste buds. Flavors here are traditional Indian, but spice levels are not, so you will have to ask if you want some heat.
Next to the butter chicken, however, the vindaloo was merely “meh.” However, I went back to have it again the next week. I can’t think of another valley restaurant where a dish that was “meh” compared to the rest of its menu called me back within days.
Next week I’m going to break out from the vindaloo and butter chicken and order The Indian’s most expensive entree, mango duck curry ($22). The dish has intrigued me since I first saw the menu, but I have stayed away because I first wanted to sample the restaurant’s Indian options. Mango duck curry is more Thai-inspired: fried or roasted duck with panang curry, lime, basil bell peppers and mango.
The last time I went, The Indian had no exterior sign. Neither does it include its address on its website. Just know that it’s directly uphill from e. leaven. Also, reservations are highly recommended. If you can’t get one there is an intimate, open bar in the front room. You can enjoy the entire menu from here, with the benefit of watching the bartender make your Tiger’s Milk.
The Indian: 733-4111, theindianjh.com, next to e. leaven on Center Street.