Vegetarian Valhalla

On South Beach, something new, something Guru

A kind, if clueless, waitress started us with fried pappadam wafers and a mint "chutney" of chimichurri consistency. Vegetable samosas seeded with caraway were made of tasty, flimsy paratha bread that had a wheaty, homemade quality to it, and a main course of dal makhni delivered lentils flavorfully braised with onions, tomatoes, ginger, and spices. Everything else we tried needed help.

The menu description of tandoori chicken masala clearly indicates "soya grilled chicken," and another dish is labeled "butter soya chicken masala," but the wording for Lahori fried fish simply states "perch fish marinated in old Lahori style spices" — leading you to think you're getting real fish, not soya fish. More questionable, though, is whether anybody, even a vegetarian, is interested in eating soy-based perch. I don't think so, nor do I believe this rendition will create a demand for the product — although the washed-out seafood flavor of the fish-shape discs, similar to that of some fast food filet-o-fish, was fairly edible when dunked into the lemony yogurt dip that came alongside tandoori masala chicken. The faux-chicken cutlets would have likewise passed muster, but that masala sauce was awful — like ragu that had been scorched in the pan. The butter soya chicken was only a little better, with cubes of tofu consistency afloat in what tasted like spicy cream of tomato soup. A smattering of grilled, fresh peppers, snow peas, and cauliflower comes on the side of most main plates, which run $13.95 to $15.95, but for a vegetarian restaurant there are surprisingly few other vegetables. Basmati rice likewise accompanies entrées. Ours was cold.

During both visits to Fusion there were few diners outdoors, and fewer indoors. Yet we waited for menus, for water, for the check — not a great way for a new restaurant to build a customer base. I sincerely suggest to the owners of this fledgling eatery that they walk four blocks south and study what the Guru gang has done with Indian vegetarian cooking — maybe take notes on how to run a low-key local business, too. Because if the Fusion folks don't straighten things out soon, the ultracompetitive South Beach dining market will leave them floundering as fruitlessly as a pig-in-a-poke.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

Guru Fine Indian Cuisine

232 12th St.
Miami Beach, FL 33139-4603

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: South Beach

Details

Guru Fine Indian Cuisine, 232 12th St, Miami Beach; 305-534-3996. Open for dinner daily 5:00 p.m. to midnight, Sunday brunch noon to 3:00 p.m.

Ocean Drive Fusion, 1501 Collins Ave, Miami Beach; 305-673-2590. Open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday noon to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to midnight.

Guru Fine Indian Cuisine, 232 12th St, Miami Beach; 305-534-3996. Open for dinner daily 5:00 p.m. to midnight, Sunday brunch noon to 3:00 p.m.

Ocean Drive Fusion, 1501 Collins Ave, Miami Beach; 305-673-2590. Open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday noon to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to midnight.

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