Based on recent recommendations here, my jonesing for a decent balti and the fact that it's a 5 minute walk from my place, I decided to try out Masala Mantram - here's how it went down.
It's in a slightly run-down part of Chomedey (right next to the Lachapelle bridge to Cartierville / Montreal), but the space inside is comfortable, warm and tastefully decorated. Really comfy chairs.
The 4 of us - 3 friends and a wife - went in on a Thursday around 6:30pm; the place was deserted except for one table of businessmen, and the friendly owner / manager was there at the front. We were seated immediately and brought menus. I noticed that the prices were ever-so-slightly more expensive than other similar joints I go to, but the choices were more extensive and I found myself looking at dishes I hadn't seen in a long time (or ever) - a good sign.
We ended up getting 3 baltis (2 chicken, one mild and one spicy, and one spicy lamb) and a butter chicken, in addition to palaak paneer, rice, garlic and regular naan. I also had a salty lassi.
The spicy chicken and spicy lamb baltis were very, very good, with rich, savoury sauces and a more than respectable spiciness level, not "mainstream" spicy. The quality of the lamb itself was top-notch. The mild balti was a bit strange as it was not only less spicy, but seemed to lack some of the other spices that gave the balti sauce its deep aroma. It was still good though. The butter chicken was great, although slightly sweeter and thinner than I personally prefer (though the friend and his wife loved it). My personal favorite butter chicken in Montreal (or Laval ;) )is Tandoori Xpress closely followed by Bombay Mahal, but this would come in right behind them (although I've yet to try some of the other places mentioned in here, like Shahi palace). The palaak paneer was fantastically rich and as good as I'd had anywhere.
As for the naan, it was slightly hit and miss. I almost never get garlic naan (I prefer regular), but this time I got the garlic and was glad I did - it was very soft, fluffy and perfectly charred, and the garlic was not overpowering. Strangely, the regular naan we got seemed to be cut from a different cloth, as it was doughier, heavier and didn't seem to have received the same attention to detail as the garlic naan did. It wasn't bad by any means, just wasn't phenomenal like the garlic one - which is what I expect from my naan. :)
All in all, it was a good experience and I need to go back and try some of the other dishes on the menu (although it will be difficult not to get the balti again, which was probably one of the best I've had outside of Birmingham). I hope the place finds itself a good niche and sticks around for a while - the owner and staff were very friendly. The place still seems rather empty when I'm passing by, although the delivery guys are always going in and out, so maybe that's a brisker business. It's just unfortunate that people in Laval still seem to prefer going to the Scores, Casas Grecques or St-Huberts of the island than spending the same amount of money for a much better meal at an independent family restaurant.
3424, boul Cartier O corner Chomedey
LAVAL, Québec, H7V 1K2
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