Indus Junction is a recently opened restaurant at 811 Queen St. W. (the same strip as Coca, Seoul City, etc.) that I would describe loosely as neo-Indian. That is to say, they serve dishes that use classic Indian ingredients and flavours, but with a modern twist, particularly in terms of the presentation.
My wife and I were lucky enough to be invited via an unexpected connection to a private pre-opening party about a month ago where we were served a tasting menu that was great, although it did suffer a bit from the somewhat chaotic format of the evening (i.e. some dishes were getting cold by the time we received them). We chalked any flaws up to pre-opening jitters, and decided to give them a bit of time to find their feet before returning for a regular meal.
We went in tonight, and found the food to be even better than what we were served at the party. Their dinner menu is currently a very reasonably priced three course prix fixe ($25 with veggie main, $30 with meat main), and we had the following...
They offer two Tikka Trios - one made with paneer, and one with cod - so we got one of each. Both are grilled with three different spice variations, and served with a light yoghurt sauce. The paneer was very fresh, and the cod perfectly cooked. Excellent start.
We ordered one veg - an eggplant dish - and one meat - a chicken dish.
The eggplant is described on the menu as a "sweet & sour" preparation, which may bring to mind an Indian/Chinese fusion of some sort, but it was definitely Indian through and through. Mixed with tomato and onion and topped with peanuts, it was absolutely delicious, albeit a little oily.
The chicken was quite unique for an Indian place, as it was stuffed with spinach and simmered in a tomato-based sauce, although the addition of fenugreek brought it back into the Indian realm.
The two other choices for mains are tandoori lamb chops and a cauliflower and paneer stew. All mains are served with basmati rice, an fantastic brown lentil dhal, and the freshest and tastiest naan I've had in a long time.
Only one listed on the menu - rice pudding - but there was also a brownie with ice cream available, so we got one of each.
Now, I'm a big rice pudding fan, and I'm often disappointed by it in restaurants, but this was quite possibly the best rice pudding I've ever had. It was served warm, had a perfect creamy consistency, and was lightly spiced to perfection. Mmmm.
The brownie, while obviously not very traditional, was delicious as well - crusty on the outside, moist and fudgy on the inside.
The wine list is pretty limited, but we don't know a lot about wine anyway, so we just went with an Indian Sauvignon Blanc called Sula that we had previously tried at the party. It's not very complex, just a fresh, easy drinking white that sat nicely next to the food. With dessert, we had spiced Masala coffee which was nice. They also have mango & vanilla lassi, Chai tea, and several Indian soda pops.
Total with tax & tip, including a glass of wine and a coffee for each of us, was $100.
For most of our meal, we were the only diners in the place (save for the husband and children of one of the two owners), which is a real shame given the quality of the food and the value. We spoke to the owner for a while, mainly to gather some info so we could run a restaurant profile on Taste T.O. (having met the owners and staff previously, we felt that would be better than trying to do an anonymous review), and she said that they've been busy on weekends, but weeknights have been slow. So if you want to check it out, consider going on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
The prix fixe menu will remain for at least another week or so, after which more items will be added, but the prices will likely go up. They're also open for lunch during the week, and brunch on weekends, both featuring a different menu.
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