Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chakra Indian Cuisine, Beverly HIlls, Restaurant Review

With superb cuisine, customer service, and atmosphere, Chakra Indian Cuisine is an amazing Indian food option in Beverly Hills.

10 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy

The first time I ate at Chakra Indian Cuisine, the restaurant seemed as sparkly as the engagement ring that had been slipped onto my ring finger only a few hours before. After a private proposal, Nick sought a festive Indian restaurant to tell his family (who had flown in from Alaska for the occasion, his mom being privy to his plans) and decided on this reputed spot in Beverly Hills. It truly was the perfect venue. At the end of our meal, our server even emerged with a complimentary strawberry-festooned miniature cake with chocolate cursive lettering spelling "congratulations" on the white plate. Customer service is alive, well, and chocolate-coated (at least when you dine in Beverly Hills).

That was more than two and a half years ago, and Nick and I hadn't walked in the restaurant's red-carpeted entrance since. While the restaurant is lovely, delicious, and friendly, it is also out of our usual price range. However, we are plotting for a future in which our dining-out price range increases, and when Nick took a step toward that plan (and more importantly, toward being a better teacher) by passing his National Board Certification, we agreed, together as a married couple this time, that Chakra would be the perfect place to celebrate.

THE SETTING

Tied-back curtains decorate the space from the entry to the VIP room and to my personal favorite, the semi-private cabanas for two. The cabanas feature roomy curved velvet sofas, a table just large enough for an assortment of family-style entrees, and a romantic feel. I also love the water feature that separates the host stand from the dining area. Valet parking is free. It's been said that the space is fit for a king, well the King of Pop at least, as Michael Jackson frequented it. (That alone is probably reason enough for Nick to love any restaurant.)

THE FOOD

The food is primarily traditional North Indian cuisine, done superbly. There are a few adventurous dishes here and there, but the most adventurous aspect is the cocktail menu.

I ordered a Peacock Martini, which tasted like raspberries. The restaurant also has cocktails named after the seven chakras. Will a blend of Captain Morgan, passion fruit rum, and mango unblock your second chakra? I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to find out.

Since we were going all out, we opted for the Chef's Special Menu, a seven-course dinner for two for $75. This is a great way to impress a date, and a starving date at that. (We wound up with take-home bags.)

 The Papadum came with an assortment of chutneys in a lovely display.

The mushroom samosa in the Samosa Trio was brilliant. Not being a potato fan (the typical samosa filling), I am eager to make these at home.

Like everything else, the presentation of the Malai Chicken was terrific. Don't they say you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth? Your eyes will be very happy.

Some of the menu was set and some of it we got to pick, and I was impressed when our attentive server mentioned that we might want to switch our order from both the chicken tikka masala and the paneer masala because both came in the same flavored curry. (We switched the chicken to Tandoori Chicken. The other option would have been to switch the paneer to the daal of the day.)

When I initially looked at the Chef's Special, I thought pick one of the four entree categories (seafood, meat, poultry, and vegetarian), but on closer inspection, I realized we got to sample them all. How indulgent. We opted for the Shrimp Korma (over the fish curry) from the seafood choices.

The Lamb Ragan Ghosh was a perfectly cooked New Zealand lamb cooked in "passionate" Kashmir spices.

The Paneer Butter Masala had a delicious curry sauce. If you like chicken tikka masala, then give this dish a whirl. Paneer is a delicate quick Indian cheese.

It was served with aromatic saffron rice.
For bread, we had a choice of Naan (shown, available in garlic, butter, or plain), Paratha, or Roti.


And, unlike lots of dinners for two, we didn't have to split one dessert, we got to split two! The tri-colored Kulfi was my favorite, boasting the colors of the Indian flag with its mango and pistachio layers. We also enjoyed a Mango and Kashmir Apple Tart, served with vanilla ice cream.

The Chef's Special Menu was an amazing way to try a variety of the dishes available at Chakra. But I don't think you can  go wrong, whatever you order. Whether you have a special occasion with a lover, are trying to turn a first date into a lover, or want to impress your parents or in-laws, Chakra is an amazing place to make some memories.

Chakra Indian Cuisine, 151 South Doheny Drive  Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 246-3999.

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