Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Kiran's Restaurant and Bar

Houston has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to great diversity and quality of cuisine.  And this includes our fine selection of Indian restaurants, be they modern or traditional.  There are multiple schools of thought on Modern Indian Food. Some are influenced by Indian culture in London (see Pondicheri). Others follow a traditional high Indian  environment mixed in with Modern North American or Continental European. The latter is the sense that I got from Kiran's Restaurant & Bar in Highland Village.  As the tagline says:  Traditional Indian; Modern Chef!

I parked near the tracks in Westheimer & was treated to a Lovely high end ambience in a converted office building. Truth to tell, I felt underdressed in Bermuda Shorts & a collar shirt. However, I am who I am & I came to eat!  I very much liked the cherry wood accents, the lovely display of wine & glassware and the overall lovely dining room.

House Spiced Lemonade
I began with a very good house made spiced mint lemonade. I was also given a crispy Naan with some lovely spicy semisweet brown sauce that was a nice snack to start.  After perusing the menu, I chose to Mughlai Thali with corn chowder soup for a starter. This entree includes Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Rhogan Josh, Palak Paneer (ground spiniach with a fresh cheese and garlic), Saffron Rice Pulao, Kalonji Naan Bread, & Raita (a yogurt dish).   Personally, when I eat Indian cuisine, I like to try a Thali if I've never eaten there before because it usually gives you a great set of tasting portions of different main dishes or house specialties.  Typically after that first visit I then target more specific dishes on subsequent visits.

Here is the description from their menu of what a Thali is:
Mughlai Thali at Kiran's Restaurant and Bar
A gastronomic delight, the traditional Indian thali is an assortment of 6-12 dishes including: bread, rice, lentils, meat, vegetables, yogurt, chutney and dessert. It is a well-balanced meal with an adequate proportion of all food groups. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian “science of life”, teaches that food should be our medicine. Meals should have a balance of all six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. These six tastes nourish the three energies in our bodies: vata (energy of movement), pitta (energy of transformation) and kapha (energy of creation). The Indian thali has all six tastes to nourish the three essential energies in our body. Our Thali lunch menu is a gourmet take on this Indian tradition.
Naan Bread
So here are my impressions of the dishes:  The soup was warm, creamy, had a bit of a smokey undertone with a slight tinge of fish stock. It was quite delicious. I dipped some of the crispy Naan in it & was quite satisfied.  The dishes in the Mughlai Thali were arranged like the four ancient elements and hey were a feast for the eyes & the mouth.  I was served a mix of chicken tikka masala, lamb rhogan josh, Palak paneer spinach with cheese, saffron rice pulao & naan bread. The Palak Paneer spinach with the fresh cheese was lovely--herbal, garlic, smooth. The lamb was slightly spicy with hints of clove & cinnamon. Very tender also. The chicken tikka masala was spicy, warm and savory. A lovely orange colored dish. And let's not forget the saffron rice-just a hint if spice with raisins & peas in a giraffe pattern.  And the Raita was a nice palate cleanser with good flavour.  Overall a very lovely and satisfying meal.

Lovely Interior at Kiran's Restaurant and Bar
I realize that some Westerners may shrink back from eating Indian cuisine.  There is an unfortunate stereotype that most of it is very heavy on the Curry and Garlic.  While there are some dishes like that, not all of them are.  I will also add that Chef Kiran Verma put together dishes that had a mixture of different spices that gave off a number of different flavours.  The items that were sweet were not overly sweet.  The items that were spicy were warm spicy, not burn your britches spicy (though I usually like that kind of spicy).  I noticed several older Westerners eating at Kiran's during this particular lunch and all were raving about how well seasoned and flavourful the dishes were.  I did not hear one single complaint.

I will also say that the service was attentive, but not excessively so and they were well engaged with the clientele.  Rudy and AJ were on the floor this particular day, and I found them to be making their callbacks right on time.  Chef Verma was also visible and greeted several regular customers, taking time to chat with a couple of kindly old ladies sitting near where I was seated.

Report Card for
Kiran's Restaurant and Bar:
House Lemonade: A+
Corn Chowder: A
Mughlai Thali: A+
     Speed:  A 
     Friendliness:  A (Rudy & AJ were great!  Chef Verma visited with several customers as well)
Atmosphere: A
     Dining Area; A+
Overall Grade: A+

Kiran's is located at:
4100 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX. 77027
Lunch Hours  Mon to Fri  11 AM to 2:30 PM
Dinner Hours Mon to Sat  5:30 PM to 10 PM
Closed Sundays

Reservations are recommended for traditionally busy nights (Friday and Saturday).

And Remember:
Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Kiran's on Urbanspoon

1 comment: said...

It all sounds wonderful! I'll definitely need to make a lunchtime trip from downtown one day soon!