Cafe Society

India Tavern brings curry, including phaal, to the Tech Center

Five months ago, ten months after Fresko, a short-lived Mexican joint at 5062 South Syracuse, shuttered, Ghugi Singh, the owner of India House in LoDo and Delhi Darbar in Louisville, signed a lease on the space, which he christened India Tavern. And he was ready then to open the doors, but he wanted to wait until he'd secured a liquor license, since curry without beer is like a baby without a pacifier.

He finally got the liquor license and opened without fanfare in mid-September. "This is a great neighborhood for a fine-dining Indian restaurant," says Singh, whose other Indian restaurants, with their mod, contemporary decor, are a departure from most curry-in-a-hurry joints. "People want a place for upscale Indian food, but not everyone wants to come downtown to get it, so we decided to go south, which we think makes perfect sense given the clientele."

His menu, which is similar to the boards at India House and Delhi Darbar, is being executed by Faiju Din, who cooked in kitchens in New York for twenty years. "His food is very authentic, the way Indian people like it," says Singh, who gave his chef the freedom to include phaal on his menu, an Indian curry invented in England to appease British soldiers who insisted on a hotter curry after they'd consumed a few too many beers. "It's all about the chiles," Singh notes, adding that Din will also create off-menu specials each day. "We'll definitely do some interesting dishes that go beyond the menu -- honey-roasted duck, for example -- so people don't get bored."

Customers aren't likely to face boredom from the lengthy wine list or martini roster, either, both of which offer ample selections. "We've got a good beer list, but we also have more than thirty wines and numerous martinis, which most Indian restaurants don't offer," says Singh. Still, when it comes to curry -- phaal or otherwise -- the best pairing is a big bottle of smoky Taj Mahal or Kingfisher, which Singh readily pours.

And if you order a bottle of either of those during India Tavern's happy hour, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. daily, it's half price, as are martinis, wines by the glass and appetizers. "People like their happy hour," affirms Singh.