516 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
A long, long time ago, Aaron and I went to Indika. Being on college student budgets, we discovered we really could only afford to drink our dinner and left after a round of cocktails. Years later, we decided to revisit the parent restaurant of our beloved Pondicheri. Pondicheri converted Aaron into an Indian food lover (lucky for me since I was already a fan and could never convince Aaron myself).
Our hostess was very nice to us, offering a booth so that we could sit next to each other. Our waiter…not so much. He seemed really busy (although there were plenty of wait staff and the restaurant was half empty). When I asked for three olives in my martini, I was informed that they were blue cheese stuffed olives and cost three dollars each…but he would do me a huge favor and give it to me anyway. Hmmph.
Amuse bouche: cucumber with spicy yogurt and stewed lentils
He ate: I really enjoyed this. It was a little savory, a little spicy. Quite nice.
She ate: A simple dish, nothing crazy but pretty enjoyable.
Pork Belly & Kale wraps: grilled pork belly marinated in tamarind & black pepper, sweet potato fries, fig chutney & kale
He ate: Since pork belly, sweet potatoes, and kale are literally Amy’s three favorite things, I suggested getting this. It was alright. Individually it was all fine. The pork was too chewy but the flavor was fine. The sweet potatoes were REALLY good, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. I would order it again to see if the pork belly is better cooked next time.
She ate: Let me put it this way. My knife could not cut the pork belly. It was really chewy and definitely not braised long enough. That being said, I actually didn’t mind the chewy texture. I prefer chewy over tough, stringy meat any day. But I prefer soft and tender over both chewy or tough. And the fat of the belly was nowhere to be found. I agree the sweet potatoes were great but it’s kind of hard to mess up sweet potatoes.
Goat Brain Masala: goat brains quick braised with amchur masala, served over a pistachio apricot naan
He ate: I’ve never had brains before so I really wanted to try it. I was disappointed that the flavors of everything else really overwhelmed the brains, so I couldn’t really taste any of that essence of goat you always taste. I know Amy really liked it…A LOT. I thought it was an interesting dish and maybe something I would order again just to see if I like it better next time.
She ate: Mmmmmm goaaaaaaat braaaaaaaaaaaains how I love thee. The naan was perfectly pillowy and crispy to compliment the soft tofu-like texture of the brains. I could taste the goat essence (although I’m very sensitive to that taste. I used to not eat goat cheese because I equated goat flavor to monkey balls, but I’ve grown to like monkey balls). I also love sweet savory pairings in general, so the pistachio apricot was a brilliant addition. I could eat two or more of these pies and be a very happy brainy girl!
Stuffed Eggplant: purple eggplant stuffed with paneer & roasted cashews,
fresh turmeric curry & sautéed greens
He ate: Sorry I didn’t try this.
She ate: I liked this fine, but it was super bland and I could barely find the paneer in it. Actually, I couldn’t tell what any of the ingredients were since they were pretty much blended and mixed in…nor could I taste the flavors. Overall a huge snoozeville. Not worth the calories of paneer and cashews…or the $18 price tag.
Mango Chutney Chicken: Bryan Farms chicken breast stuffed with fresh mango chutney in a tomato almond curry
He ate: It wasn’t mango-y enough. It was just chicken…and there were some okra and potatoes on there. It was okay but nothing special. I thought it would be more mango and coconut milk but it was a pretty bland dish. I did want something lighter but this was too boring.
She ate: Zzzzz…oh and the chicken was tough.
Overall it was an okay experience but really there are zero reasons for us to return. I would have rather gone…anywhere. ..anywhere with flavor. Almost everything other than the brains were just so bland, which I find astounding for Indian food. I don’t even know how you make Indian food bland since so much of it is spice based. Aaron actually found the dishes to be spicy but in a predictable way. A dish would arrive, he knew how it would taste, and then that would be it.
tl; dr: Expensive, not that good, weird service. Stick with Pondicheri.