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Taste Grenade On a Plate: An Imlee Indian Bistro Dining Experience

A tasty tangle of spiced goodness
A tasty tangle of spiced goodness
By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com

We know the readers of Short Order are taste explorers always looking for that next food Nirvana. We are happy to introduce you to Imlee Indian Bistro, owned by brothers Manoj and Paresh Bhatti and located, humbly, in a shopping center in Pinecrest.

From the doorway a three-foot-tall metal goddess presents a platter of dried herbs and flowers to mildly scent the entrance. Your eyes sweep upwards to the brick red draped ceiling, and on all sides you see tasteful works of art (for sale by the artists) adorning the warm mustard-colored walls.


If you look closely, the blurs casting quick shadows on the tables and

making the candles flicker are actually the waiters, zipping by at

road-runner speeds. We had the honor of being served by the

knowledgeable and extremely personable Paul Murphy, who guided us

through the menu and made sure to ask the most pertinent question -- which heat/spice index were we most comfortable with? He, too, disappeared

in a flash after we placed our orders, but we realized throughout the

night that he, like every other waiter, would return just as quickly to

attend to each guest, if ever the need should arise.

Every table

starts off with a paper thin papadum (thin cracker) speckled with lentil

seeds and served with a triad of chutneys: tomato and onion, cilantro

and mint and a sweet tamarind sauce (Imlee actually means "Tamarind" in

Hindi). Our drink recommendation has got to be the freshly squeezed mint

lemonade ($4). It's bright, sweet, tart, and balanced. This drink is a

must try, but we'd also recommend the fresh Mango Lassi (made from

"Alphonso" mangoes and homemade yogurt, also $4).

We were lucky

enough to get a peek into the hectic kitchen and have a more active role

in watching our orders come to fruition. Young, calm and amiable

amongst the kitchen frenzy was Chef Shreyas Jagtap. Hailing from Mumbai,

India, Chef Jagtap studied in Bangol and brings to Imlee his rich

culture and traditional dishes. We danced around the kitchen to avoid

colliding with the rush of runners and dashed back out to our seats to

be reunited with our mouth-watering tray of dishes.

Hunks of warmed juicy lemons atop a flavor hill
Hunks of warmed juicy lemons atop a flavor hill
By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com

By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com
Hunks of warmed juicy lemons atop a flavor hill

Removing

our onyx napkins from their burnished gold rings we started on

our appetizer of Shrimp Kashmiri ($13). It was a tangle of caramelized

onions and peppers with Black Tiger shrimp peeking through here and

there. There was a balance to the flavors of the sweet vegetables and

the spiced shrimp, a harmonious union when taken in a big forkful. Our

suggestion is to take those piping hot lemon slices and rain down warm

juice over it all to bring out their flavors even more.

By 8 pm, the small place was packed, the tables pushed close together. No one seemed bothered. In fact, it fostered a

sense of camaraderie; after all, we were all embarking on this flavor

adventure together, whether we were ordering similar dishes or not

"Lamb Vindaloo Like Whoa"
"Lamb Vindaloo Like Whoa"
By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com

By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com
"Lamb Vindaloo Like Whoa"

We

started with the classic and most popular, Lamb Vindaloo, ($19). The

word Vindaloo means a highly spiced Indian curry made with meat or fish.

The first thing you taste is the acidic sharpness from

the red wine vinegar quickly mellowed by the all the crushed seasonings

(ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamon, mustard and fenugreek). The lamb

was melt-in-your-mouth tender and was moist beyond belief with the help

of the tomato and dried chilli sauce it's served in.

Curry leaf adornment
Curry leaf adornment
By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com

By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com
Curry leaf adornment

For those craving pollo

done a whole new way, we suggest the Chicken Madras ($17). Traditional

flavorings similar to the Lamb Vindaloo are used, but the

strong flavor of curry stands out a lot more here (due to the addition

of fresh curry leaves). There is a nice kick from the black mustard

seeds which adds pungency to the dark tumeric-dyed spiced sauce. Every

mouthful delivers a tender bite of mild flavored chicken followed by the

warm resonance of the curry sauce to provide all necessary flavor. Both

the Lamb Vindaloo and Chicken Madras come with a side of aromatic rice

scented with cinnamon sticks and is fluffy and speckled with herbage.

Gulab Jamun soaking up warm rose syrup
Gulab Jamun soaking up warm rose syrup
By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com

By Ben Guzman, of BenGuzmanPhoto.com
Gulab Jamun soaking up warm rose syrup

Trust

us, with the cinnamon scented rice, selected curry dish, and a side of

garlic and cilantro nan ($3.75), you will barely find room for dessert.

Then again, who can say no to a fanciful Indian classic of Gulab Jamun,

$6, (gulab means rose, and jamun means fruit). This is a simple and

elegant dish made of milk flour cardamon donuts sitting in a delicate

pool of rose flavored simple syrup. It's served rather warm, all the

better for those tiny pillows to soak up more syrup. The little mounds

are each topped with a toasted almond. The consistency of the donut is

reminiscent of Japanese Mochi, in its dense yet springy texture. We had

to stop ourselves from tipping the bowl back and dripping every last

drop of that rose syrup into our mouths it was so good.

While the

dessert may be seen as bite size, one fellow diner told us,

"[Americanized] desserts are seen as that last chance to gorge

yourself," and to some degree we would have to agree. This Gulab Jamun

was rightfully a conclusion to a meal, and not an entire meal in itself.

It sealed off our taste buds with its delicate sweetness and completed

the journey on the taste bud pin ball game we played that evening.

In

Miami, it's commonplace to happen upon Bistros that boast authenticity

yet deliver disappointing failure instead, like a certain unnamed French

Bistro we've gone to with only a Spanish speaking attendant. At Imlee,

the authenticity courses all the way through, from the traditionalist

menu items to the authentic genuineness of the waiters and the Chef.

Imlee knows how to stand up and deliver, and that's just the kind of

place we love introducing you too.

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Imlee Indian Bistro

12663 S. Dixie Highway
Pinecrest, FL 33156

786-293-2223

www.imleeindianbistro.com


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