Lured by the prospect that the Patois juggernaut was reinventing Uncle Phos, we kept to our plans and found ourselves inside Baluchis on Smith St. Yes, the conversation brought up the facts that Baluchi was a "chain" and No - this could have nothing to do with the owner of Patois, but plans had been made and I have never, by choice, eaten at a Baluchis.
German (?) waitress. Interesting, fine, competent. Copper everything, the Baluchi way...(I have seen Baluchis mind you - just never eaten in one) Forks that were dripping water, from within.... and my beer glass smelled of saffron.
Taj Majal, Corona, Amstel light and WCBS-FM (as in Elvis "You aint nothing but a hound dog").
We ordered 3 beers.
Normal menu. ("Poori - this is the fluffy one!")
Samosas and Pakoras for apps. 2 Huge Samosas, tired flat pakoras (arent pakoras usually breaded w/shredded something or other?)
Had to ask for condiments, tamarind, coriander and (bonus) mango chutney. Tiny portions though, about 2 tblspns of each item for a table of 4. - The condiment thing may be an American custom but it is sort of standard, I thought it was a misstep on their part. I mean it is not like this is Vatan or some new approach to Indian - then again I have never been to Baluchis...
Navrattan Curry (veggies) I found to be subtle to the point of watery (?), but an agreeable freshness. The person who ordered it enjoyed it.
Lamb Saagwala - mine, can't say the spinach was fresh...ever. Lamb was okay, dish was warm in temperature and tepid in spice/flavor. Tasted home made in the 'didn't quite work' way....Maybe this was subtlety but the table next to me complained their lamb was tough, I thought the lamb pieces were fine, buy boring.
Goan Shrimp Curry - got very good reviews, I did not taste.
Fish Tandoori - whole snapper. Not a pleasant smell for me - a regular fish cooker and eater - never experienced tandoori fish. Wife liked it a lot though.
2 Breads, 2 rice - fine I guess, Garlic Nan received some favorable comments, Poori was hot (good) and oily (bad) enough for someone to ask, what is that on the bread?
$114.95 ($24 for 1 round of Beer = $8/btl)
The manager (?) presented and took our check. We had to request our change and that came in the form of a $20 and a $5 (bill/change habits in general have been covered before, please see previous threads)
While some food was enjoyed a return trip was ruled out before we left.
We c(Sh)ould have spent the same money at Patois, Sur, or Smith St. Kitchen and had an infinitely more satisfying experience. Surly service and wine as well!
We would have been pressed to spend the same amount at Tuk Tuk or Faan and had a more interesting (better IMO) food experience.
By the time we left it had 'filled' up, This was super Sunday and it had started to snow.
The Menu listed twice the number of locations their website does and I have no idea what the reviewers quoted on the site were eating (or where).
This experience made me appreciate (and long for) Amin on Montague. I have been eating Spice Grill (on Murray in Manhattan weekly for about a month (and evangelizing it here)) and Baluchis is not comparable. My last meal at Bukhara Grill (58/3rd) was much better. And Vatan is a favorite. Maybe Baluchis is a different cuisine I don't understand. I was hoping that Smith would continue offering interesting restaurants, (ok - 4 or 5 'bistros' is a bit of a snooze but...there is Argentinean, sushi, Thai, American, middle eastern), but Baluchis is a disappointment.