The lamb vindaloo at India Palace
A thumbnail sketch of India Palace can't help but focus on its setting: an Indian restaurant in a barely redecorated former tiki bar on the top floor of an office building-slash-hotel, with windows overlooking runways at Lambert Airport.
Put the lamb vindaloo in front of me, though, and for a while even those distinctive surroundings fade away.
The vindaloo at India Palace is beautifully balanced. The heat of red chiles is strong -- just look at the dish's brilliant red color -- but not brutally so. It dampens your forehead, for sure, but never overwhelms the interplay of the complex spice blend and the thickly cut and richly flavored lamb.
Vindaloo traditionally offers a distinctive sour or tart note. Whether India Palace's version provides this through vinegar or tamarind paste or something else entirely, it is here in the precise proportion needed to balance out both the hot and the savory elements.
You can order vindaloo with meats other than lamb, but I remember the conversation that I had with my server on a visit to India Palace several years ago. I said I wanted vindaloo but wasn't sure which kind.
"Do you like lamb?" he asked. I nodded. "Then you want the lamb vindaloo."India Palace
4534 North Lindbergh Boulevard, Bridgeton
$17.95I'm counting down -- in no particular order -- 100 of my favorite dishes in St. Louis. Some are well-known, others obscure. Some are expensive, others dirt cheap. All of them, I guarantee, are delicious. Please do not hesitate to share your own favorites via the comments thread.
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