Sunday, September 02, 2007

Indigma

Since out-of-state travel was no longer an option, I decided to find something much cheaper at home. So I found myself, invariably, in Mt. Vernon again on a Saturday night. I was planning to go all the way up to Nam Kang again - I think what made me sick that one time was just a fluke, so I know what to avoid now - but when I found a parking space closer to Mt. Vernon I took it as a sign. I mean, how often does that happen?

My thoughts were decidedly on cheap food, so I planned maybe to go into Thairish, which I've heard a lot about (more good than anything else). But I can never make a decision, so I told myself I'd come back. I proceeded further south until I got to the former location of Minato, which now houses a Thai restaurant (how many on this block again?) - My Thai (Christine at blog.christine.fm* visited in mid-August, didn't like it, but was more impressed the other day). Decidedly more upscale than Thairish, it also doesn't post its menu outside like the other restaurants on this block do. That is, if you want to find out what they're offering, you have to go in and ask for the menu first. Instead, I flipped a coin and headed across the street to the fairly new Mexican place, El Patrón. I looked at the menu, decided I wasn't in a Mexican mood, and went back.

I then noticed the new Indian restaurant Indigma (see the Sun photo at left**). I have no clue why I missed it in the first place - it's not easy to miss. It's in the former Saffron location, and only opened up about a week ago. I remember that as an expensive place, so I never went in. I stared at the menu, and the proprietor pops out and strikes up a conversation with me. I had hoped he would go back in, in case I decided to head somewhere else - I knew (and he knew) that if we started talking, it'd be difficult for me to walk off!

So there I am, entering Indigma and I'm amazed at how lovely the place is (again, see Sun photo). Absolutely gorgeous, in the colors of, well, saffron with cobalt blue lamps, bright lighting in the front and more intimate lighting in the back. My compliments to the designer.

The food was, well, not cheap, but there are cheaper options. I just didn't take them. Said menu is divided into small plates (Indian tapas?) and entrées, with comprehensive wine and martini lists. I didn't get wine, but I did get a 12 oz. bottle of the Indian Kingfisher beer (either that or the 22 oz. Taj Mahal, which would've landed me in the drunk tank). The small plates and entrées shared only their haute-ness in common. Nothing that you could call traditional Indian food, save for the breads. Some of the small plates: open-faced samosas, avocado puri and minty lamb chops. I got the avocado puri ($4) as an appetizer. I'd never eaten such firm avocado before - I actually had to bite into it relatively hard. It was so good with the coriander chutney in what looked like a little sake cup, and all laying on a bed of dark salad greens.

Instead of getting several small plates, which I was going to do (I'll do that next time), I did the math and reasoned that if I got, oh, four, it'd cost around the same. And how often am I going to come to a relatively expensive restaurant? Truthfully, it's not much higher in cost than the Helmand; I just focus on the cheaper parts of that menu (still delicious). And the dish I got was just as unusual as any. I got a bison (North American buffalo) vindaloo ($23!!!), with soft chunks of potato in a dish that I didn't find that spicy. But I have a high tolerance for heat, so it will probably be spicy to most of y'all. Most of the bison was very soft - only one or two chunks were a little tough and overcooked. The basmati rice that came with it, in a small square bowl, was soft and helped to cut the heat of the vindaloo. Tasty.

I asked the proprietor, who was chatting up all the patrons, if I could get an interesting martini. It had a champagne base, but they were out of champagne. So he made another one off the menu, by his recommendation - their Kama Sutra martini ($7, like all of their martinis). It was tasty, with tiny chunks of ice, and much smoother than most martinis I have ever had - no vermouth in this one (I'm not a fan of vermouth). It didn't taste that strong, but I was certainly feeling it by the time I left. It had a lovely thin foam on top and had a mint leaf floating on the foam.

I was truly frightened to see the check, and my fright was justified: $40. Okay, that's not frightening for many people, but I'm cheap. I tend to spend as little as I can at restaurants, especially after shelling out a couple hundreds to get my car running normally. But with the tip it was worth it. And despite the bill, I had to leave a 20% tip - I usually angle for 15%. The service last night was just damn good. I was waiting a little long to order, but after that they were there by my table (and everybody else's) constantly. Even the chef came out, which doesn't happen at many places. Of course, as word of mouth spreads more people will be there, and it won't be that easy to be so attentive. But the staff are friendly and certainly went out of their way to help me out.

I still had to sober up, so where better to do that than the Hippo? (Sorry, couldn't resist.) I only got a bottle of water (about $3). Did you know they're printing their logo on the water bottles? I never realized. Then again, I usually don't get water there.

* How do I keep missing these local food blogs? Beats me.

** Photo taken for Baltimore Sun by Monica Lopossay, August 4, 2007

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2 comments:

r k said...

I live on the opposite corner and I pass by it all the time. I’m glad to hear that you thought it was good. I’m a big fan of modern Indian cuisine (two of my favorite restaurants are such: Devi, which is sadly now defunct, and ), so I’m looking forward to trying out Indigma – which I plan on doing so on a special occasion. Bonus: they have a vegetarian tasting menu for $30 which I totally plan on getting!

John said...

Roopa: The second one's name got cut off, but thanks for the link to Tamarind restaurant up in New York. I will take your suggestion this time. I always get up there and get all ADHD - truthfully, no joke - and I try to think of five different recommendations at once. But that one will be atop my list! Yeah, Indigma was good. Again, go while they're still brand new; the service right now is great and - as with ANY restaurant - that could sink down as they get bogged down over the next few months with all the new service.