by Mabel Suen
"You'll want to keep your water glass close. This is really hot," forewarns owner Jesse Nagra of India Palace (711 Olive Street; 314-621-8533) as he sets a silver dish of lamb vindaloo, one of the house specialties, onto the table with a plate of basmati rice. Tender chunks of lamb stew in a steamy bath of potatoes and bright sauce laden with an enigma of fragrant spices. He wasn't kidding. We needed refills. Luckily, the cooling yogurt in a glass of sweet and tangy mango lassi put out the fire once and for all.
India Palace opened on January 31 downtown in a space formerly occupied by Everest Cafe & Bar. It is a sister restaurant to the original India Palace (4354 North Lindbergh Boulevard; 314-731-3333) by the airport that opened twenty years ago, named best Indian restaurant in RFT's Best of St. Louis in 2003 and 2009. Nagra, who managed that location for the last decade, says after years of customer demand, he thought there was a need for a location downtown.
The menu remains the same and is cooked by experienced family staff, he says, but at a slightly lower price point. Besides the lamb vindaloo, India Palace offers chicken tikka masala -- tandoori chicken cubes simmered in fresh tomato sauce -- as a popular house specialty.
However, the menu certainly isn't limited to just these few dishes. A list of extensive offerings includes appetizers, soup, Indian bread, tandoori sizzlers cooked in 800 degree temperatures and dishes divided by main protein: chicken, lamb, goat, seafood, vegetables and egg. India Palace also makes rice dishes and traditional dessert such as gulab jamun.
Overwhelmed patrons who can't narrow down the options can also check out a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that includes a selection of the menu. The buffet costs $8.95 Monday through Friday and $10.95 on Saturday.
India Palace is currently open Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. For the full menu and additional information, check out the India Palace website and follow it on Facebook.
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