Second Helpings

Star of India

There are restaurants that win me over quickly -- love at first bite, or damn close to it. There are other restaurants I have to ease into slowly, coming around to their flavors or unique takes on cuisine by the end of the meal. And then there are places that I flat-out can't stand at first blush but wind up wandering back into at some later date (mostly because of my blown-out short-term memory and generalized dumb-assitude when it comes to keeping names and places straight) and totally falling for, my earlier opinion notwithstanding. Star of India is one of these places, a restaurant that I was sure was trying to kill me on my first visit -- and so charmed me a year later that I could barely remember what it was I hadn't liked. (For the record, it was the heat of many of the dishes, which were tuned so high I couldn't handle them.) Last week, after gorging myself at Jewel of India, I stopped by Star of India again -- and I'm pleased to report that, if anything, it's gotten better than when I reviewed it ("Heat Wave," June 2, 2005). While ordering anything "hot" here can still be a murderous mistake, absent any severe lingual trauma, you'll find dishes at Star of India that no one else in town does as well. For example, the kabli naan -- flat, tandoor-baked wheat bread stuffed with a thin layer of sweet nut paste and raisins -- is just amazing. Between the sweetness of the fruits and nuts, the naan's solidity and the delicate butter-and-char flavor of the surface hot off the oven, this is a fabulous bread. Also wonderful is the saag paneer, keyed for more of a savory flavor than sweet, and still spicy even when ordered mild. And finally, the alu mutter -- potatoes cooked with peas and gravy and more spices than I can even attempt to name here -- far transcends the bounds of what should be possible with a lowly potato. I'm a Mick, and I know potatoes. I also know good Indian food, and Star of India still makes it.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan