Second Helpings

India's Restaurant moves on to bigger things

The new India's Restaurant is big. Seriously big. Big in the way that interstate chain restaurants are supposed to be big, or the doomed follies of restaurant owners with more hubris and cash on hand than brains. Whereas the old India's (which was located across the street and out of sight in the back of Tamarac Square) was sort of a cramped, cozy museum of Indian art and culture with a restaurant stuck in the middle, this new India's (located in Tiffany Square, nestled up beside the Elvis Theatre) is sprawling, encompassing several dining rooms, a bar, a lounge and, on the other side of the swinging doors, what I can only imagine must be a kitchen the size of a battleship. There's a wall completely covered with the awards and accolades that India's has won, televisions on other walls, and a Christmas tree along the path leading to the lounge. White-jacketed kitchen help are running here and there, while servers make their quiet way between the widely spaced tables.

The space may be different, but the food is unchanged from what I loved at the original India's, particularly the simple, artful, perfectly done tandoori chicken and the benchmark saag paneer. Both of these dishes showcase the India's kitchen at its best, as a place where every recipe and preparation has been honed and practiced to the point where they display an almost McDonald's-like consistency. Not only have I never had a bad saag from India's, I've never had one that wasn't better than any other saag in town. And not only have I never had a disappointing tandoori chicken here, but I've never had an order that so much as smelled slightly different than every other order. The saag is always creamy, deeply rich and flavored with gentle spice, the texture livened up by cubes of homemade paneer; the chicken is always the color of fresh bricks, juicy, slightly smoky, tender and best when dressed only with a squeeze of lemon.

While the saag and the tandoori are my hands-down favorites of the many specialties on offer at India's, this kitchen does as well with the more complex dishes of the already maddeningly complex Indian canon. I've had perfect boti masala here, and kormas that had me rising from a sound sleep just so I could eat my leftovers, cold, while standing in front of the refrigerator. Denver has a lot of Indian restaurants these days, but none have kept me so consistently well fed as India's. It was my favorite of all the Indian restaurants in its old home, and it remains so now that it has moved on to bigger things.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan