Instant Khorma!

A tale of two Indian restaurants, one worth a damn

Things began with a thud. Make that two thuds, as in a pair of oil-drenched samosas with a vague vegetable mix loosely wrapped in fried dough — that was gooey-white raw on the inside. No sooner had we suffered through our first bites when we overheard diners seated at the next table complaining about old, metallic-tasting vegetables. The couple sheepishly explained they weren't the type to make a fuss, but the waitress returned from a chat in the kitchen to concur that the food had a "refrigerator taste," that it "wasn't fresh," and that they wouldn't be charged. The two were seated behind me in a high-backed booth, so I couldn't see which specific dish was being indicted, but because we had ordered vegetable jhalfrazie in curry sauce, I was getting a little nervous.

I was relieved to find the absence of metal or refrigerator flavors in the vegetables. Then again, I had only a bite or two, for the sludgy brown, tomato-saucy, pedestrian mix of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, peas, water chestnuts (?) and limp celery tasted so awful that the absorption of a little refrigerator odor could have only improved things. The waitress, noting that we didn't eat it, didn't charge us. Which was nice. I think it's safe to say that vegetables weren't turning a big profit for Renaisa this particular evening.

Lamb achar gosht was more rewarding, the meat mixed in a savory, mildly spicy curry sauce speckled with pickles that weren't nearly as hot as Indian pickles usually are (more deli-style than Delhi-style). Basmati rice and paratha bread were passable too. Rice pudding was soupy, service was slack, prices were similar to those of Heelsha — meaning entrées between $13 and $22. I think I've made it clear where I'd spend my money.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

Heelsha Indian Cuisine

1550 NE 164th St.
North Miami, FL 33162

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Aventura/North Miami Beach

Details

Heelsha Authentic Indian Cuisine, 1550 NE 164th St, North Miami Beach; 305-919-8393. Open for lunch and dinner daily 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Renaisa Indian Restaurant, 620 NE 78th St, Miami; 305-758-2929. Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday noon to 3:00 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Thursday 4:00 to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. Closed Monday.

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