India's has always had one of my favorite buffets, but I've loved it for other reasons, too. I love the clutter of the dining room filled with art and knickknacks and statuary. I love the smell -- that deep, rich, infinitely complex aroma of curry and warm bread and burst spices and blazing tandoor ovens -- and for the close, damp warmth of the seating areas. I love that what you order off the menu sometimes bears no relation to what eventually appears at your table. But lately I've found myself less enamored of the place. Nothing about the space, the smell or the experience of dining at India's has changed, but the food has. On a recent visit, I was very disappointed by the tandoori offerings: flavorless chicken, overcooked shrimp (singular) and tough kafta served alongside a wonderful, thick slab of lamb. The paneer pakora (Indian cheese sticks) was ancient and tasted only of its batter; the chicken pakora was dry and entirely flavorless, requiring so much tamarind chutney and raita to make it edible that I should just have drunk those condiments straight from their bowls. And this wasn't the first time that India's had let me down. Still, the house does offer a good lunch buffet -- full and fresh and with saag paneer every day. And the kitchen continues to do great kormas and masalas and sauces of all description, as well as good lassi and wonderful lamb. But I'm worried that, after years as the undisputed champ of the local Indian scene, India's may be starting to slack off. I hate to see that at any restaurant, but I particularly hate to see it here.
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