Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taj Palace Restaurant, White Plains


There was a time, several years ago, when the East Post Road area of White Plains had two Indian restaurants within a stone’s throw of each another—the remarkable Dawat, and the not so remarkable “Bengal Tiger” which neither did justice to Bengal, nor to the majesty of this big cat.  Dawat shut down for reasons unknown.  A few years later Bengal tiger burned down, raising the average quality of Westchester Indian food in the process.  Recently, the new Taj Palace Restaurant opened for business in the same vicinity and we tried their lunch buffet today. 

The afternoon lunch buffet is a good time to test the mettle of an Indian restaurant for this is where they can advertise with original creations, or try to pass off a slipshop dish.

The buffet quality was mixed.  The idli and sambar was reasonable, the kebabs stone cold.  There was fluffy rice and soft naans.  The baigan bharta and daal makhni were decent, the bittergourd-potato curry--a first for an Indian restaurant here—was superb and a unique offering on the menu.  The non-veg dishes sounded like a caricature of the stereotypical Indian restaurant menu: Chicken Tikka Masala, Madrasi Lamb, and Tandoori Chicken.  The lamb was tender and had undertones of actual South Indian spices (Madras is in the South).  Take this honesty in nomenclature as good news for not all establishments will do this. The kheer and Gulab Jamun were oversweetened, and will not gain any converts.   I give them points for the bittergourd.  I take away points for what I suspect was the addition of food coloring to the dishes—this is an old practice that has no place today.

The food here was not bad—it was decent.  But I am perplexed by the lack of creativity on a humdrum buffet menu of an Indian restaurant that has opened its doors in 2012.  Certainly, the clientele's demands have a lot to do with what a restaurant puts out.  This buffet will be a litmus test.  If the current menu does well, it will be because Indian restaurant diners in this county refuse to evolve and are comfortable with the tikka masalas of  the past—Indian food will degenerate into what the neighborhood Chinese restaurant has become today.

Taj Palace on Urbanspoon

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