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Jun 11, 2006 06:50 PM

Best Indian Buffet in Baltimore

  • l

Everyone has an opinion, and they seem so widely divergent when it comes to Indian cuisine. I guess, like so many things, it all depends on personal preference. So, what's your favorite Indian buffet in Baltimore, and, more importantly, why? Although I'm particularly interested in what you thought of buffets in this post, comments about other Indian meals are welcome. Here are my impressions to get things started:

Akbar - A frequent best-of winner, our experience there was appalling. Sauces tasted like they came right out of a can of condensed soup. My dining companion ordered a cheese dessert and pronounced it rancid. Thinking he was exaggerating, I tasted it myself. I'm sorry I did. The management was positively brusque when he complained. Note that this was dinner and not a buffet. I'm interested to know if anyone has had a recent good meal here, and what it was that you liked.

Ambassador - A beautifully appointed dining room in one of Baltimore's lovely historic neighborhoods, but the food was mediocre on my one visit. I can see choosing this place if ambience is more important to you than flavor. Again, this was a lunch experience and not a buffet.

India Rasoi - Another best-of winner, this place is very small; their dining room is about the size of . . . well . . . yours. They seem to have few visitors, but that could be due to the "hey, let's go to Little Italy for . . . Indian" problem. Because there is so little room, the buffet has very few selections. I haven't sampled it, but I have come here for dinner and for takeout. I found the food pleasant but bland. In case you are not sure, that is not a hearty endorsement. Lamb dishes were best, along with the mulligatawny soup, although I prefer more spice.

Mehek - In Fells Point on Broadway near Thames, this is my choice for the true best of Baltimore. A nice selection of dishes with complex sauces, including a few items I have not seen anywhere else. I would like to see lamb on there, but that's a quibble. Their mulligatawny soup is very nice, although I can't help smiling wryly when I see they have tossed in a bit of pasta and labeled it "chicken noodle." The service is attentive and pleasant. Another nice touch: no soggy pile of bread in a sterno-heated tray here; they bring fresh, piping-hot naan to your table as soon as you sit down with your food.

Mem Sahib - The location, right next to Lexington Market, is a bit funky. I tend to eat here only when I am using the metro, as it is a block away. But the buffet is reasonably priced, and the food is above-average. The standout here is the attentive service, and the charming owner makes you feel like a friend. An interesting selection of desserts not found on most buffets, and a pretty good lamb. And let's not forget the Indian music videos on a large screen, if that turns you on. Overall, a very good value.

Mughal Garden - I found this buffet unremarkable in most respects. Not too good, not too bad. A decent value if you happen to be in Mt. Vernon.

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  1. Great post. Anyone have thought on this topic in the Wash DC area (including the burbs). My personal fav. is the Minerva. I find the location in reston a bit better than the one in fairfax.

    1. Am I the only one that hates buffets? The triumph of quantity over quality. It seems odd to me to complain about the quality of food at a buffet. What did you expect? It's a bunch of made-ahead food kept warm at a steam table! If you want quality food, why are you going to a buffet?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hal Laurent

        I think it depends on what's in the buffet. Something that is meant to be prepared, then served and consumed immediately (most stir-fry dishes, for example) are a bad candidate for buffets. At the opposite end of the spectrum would be soups and stews, which actually may benefit from long simmering.

        As another poster has noted, Indian food does lend itself to buffet serving, being mostly of a stew-like consistency, and given that Indian food lends itself to an approach of "a little of this, a little of that", as is evidenced by the thali choices available at many Indian restaurants.

        The fact remains, though, that in *most* cases, what goes onto a buffet does suffer in comparison to dishes prepared to order.

      2. My favorite Indian lunch buffet spots are Mem Sahib and House of India in Columbia. With respect to the "mini-chains", I prefer the various Bombay spots to Akbar. I have found that Indian food is better suited to the steam table that other cuisines and find a good Indian buffet enjoyable.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ken

          Speaking of Bombay places, what ever happened to Bombay Grill in Mt. Vernon? That was good, inexpensive food in a nice atmosphere. There seems to be one on Lombard Street. Any good?

          1. re: Let's Eat

            The one on Lombard closed.

            1. re: Let's Eat

              The Bombay Grill at Mt. Vernon Place ( Madison and Charles) closed about four years ago and it's owner/chef,Tony Chemmanoor, opened across the street next to Donna's Cafe on Charles Street in a space previously known as the Ruby Lounge. The atmosphere and the cuisine is temendously improved. He specializes in a fusion of european and far east cuisines. The address is 802 Charles Street, Baltimore, Md.

              1. re: DX3

                You're referring to Saffron, where Edward Kim, formerly of Soigne, just started cooking. The food is incredible, but there is no remaining Indian influence.

                1. re: ko

                  Saffron has now closed, and Kim is gone. Chemmanoor has reopened the space as "Indigma." It's now classified as a contemporary Indian cuisine. They do tapas at lunch time, and more innovative dishes in the evening. The prices are much more affordable than Saffron. It's worth trying if you haven't given it a shot!

          2. My favorite Indian food in this area is at Indian Delight on Frederick Road in Catonsville. It's also BYOB!

            1. There's actually a good buffet in Towson called Kathmandu. As the name would imply, it's a mix of Nepalese and traditional Indian.