Sunday, July 15, 2012

East India Grill, Los Angeles, Restaurant Review

 There's a solid mix of veg and non-veg entrees at East India Grill and everything is average or better, if a bit on the sweet side.
7 out of 10 Peppers = Spicy

I'm not a group dining person. Dinner with up to six people -- that, I'm all about. But once it gets beyond six, I'm only able to talk to the people sitting adjacent to me anyway, so what are all those other people there for? Just to make me feel guilty that I can't simultaneously have a conversation with them, or at least that's how I interpret it.

However, there is one big plus with doing a group dinner at an Indian restaurant: family-style entrees. The more people the more stuff I get to taste (without increasing my individual bill, since we usually just split the final bill evenly among everyone), so when I went to a networking dinner at East India Grill recently in Mid-City West -- which was picked for its central location -- I was at least happy that even if I couldn't have a conversation with everyone, I could at least sample everyone's dinner choice.

THE SETTING

I was eying the outdoor patio as I approached, but it was a brisk evening so we wound up sitting inside, which has the typical Indian color scheme of gold (the curtains) and red (the tablecloths and napkins). The service is OK, if kind of slow yet intrusive at the same time (an odd combination). There is free street parking on Sundays and I had no trouble finding a spot, but on Fridays and Saturdays especially I am sure it's more difficult.

THE FOOD


The other downside to dining with a large group is that I definitely got outvoted in requesting "mild" entrees and "medium" won out. (Did I mention it was a group of Indian folks and that I sadly lack the Indian "gene" for spicy food?) But thankfully, of all the entrees only the Malai Kofta was too spicy for me.

Actually, one diner even commented that all of the food was a little on the sweet side, and I have to agree. Another commented that it was "a 7 or 8 -- good but not memorable."

I was pleased to see a good selection of California reds and whites on the wine list, plus five Indian beers.

The meal began with complimentary Papadum. It was actually a little spicy and super crispy.

My namesake Saag Paneer was so flavorful. Definitely order this.


The shrimp in the Masala Shrimp was a little overcooked, but I liked the super sweet sauce. I have sympathy for those who overcook seafood, as I inadvertently do it all the time in my fear of foodborne illness. Getting a requested meat thermometer as a wedding gift has certainly helped, as at least now I can see how badly I am overcooking it.

 The Tofu Biryani was just OK.

We ordered so many different curries that I'm hoping I'm not getting them confused. We had a mix of veg and non-veg diner, so we got the Navratan Korma (fresh peas with homemade cheese and nuts in spiced gravy) as one of the veg-friendly ones.

Here it is, my spicy nemesis the Malai Kofta. (But at least I had plenty of other options!)

East India Grill has a ton of Naan choices, including Parmesan, Garlic Basil, Onion Cilantro and stuffed Naans including Potato, Cheese, Chicken, and Shrimp.

The entrees came with a shared Raita, which was very cucumber-y and delicious.

We didn't order a dessert, but our server brought us complimentary Pistachio (shown) and Mango Ice Cream, two traditional Indian dessert flavors.

The restaurant was accommodating to our group, pushing tables together to ensure we all fit, and I'd go here again if invited. Will I go on my own? Probably not. But only because there are other comparable Indian restaurants closer to me. But if East India Grill was in my neighborhood, I'd be a repeat customer -- and I'd ever order my food Medium.

East India Grill, 345 N. La Brea, Los Angeles 90036. (323) 936-8844.

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