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Neela's: new Indian restaurant in Napa

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Neela's: new Indian restaurant in Napa

cortez | May 3, 2009 07:32 AM

Tried the brand new Neela's last week for lunch. It's the nouvelle Indian restaurant just opened next to Pizzeria Azzuro in downtown Napa. See www.neelasindianrestaurant.com. It was terrific and nearly full at midday.

The lunch menu is limited largely to "thalis", the multi-item platters served all at once in small metal bowls. Sort of an Indian version of a bento box lunch. The main courses included Kerala fish (red snapper), chicken tika or tandor, lamb vindaloo or tandor. All dishes included rice, salad of minced tomatoes, onions, fried vegetable fritter for dipping, and naan. The three of us ordered a selection of chutnies on the side together with Trumer Pils on tap, Taj Mahal in the large bottle and a glass of Provencal rose from the surprisingly sophisticated wine list.

The food was consistently clean, moderately seasoned (could have taken more heat) and surprisingly light in great contrast to lunch offerings, often buffet, at more traditional Indian restaurants. Freshness and simple preparation were the key.

Neela, the chef/owner, is the former owner of the Bombay Cafe in Santa Monica and author of the Bombay Cafe Cookbook. She has adapted Indian menus to a more California-like palate and presentation emphasizing the ingredients and lighter combinations.

I haven't returned yet for the more extensive dinner menu -- but will.

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