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looking 4 indian fine dining

after getting in2 indian in a big way the past year, Kebab Factory being at the top of our current list, we are looking for great indian in a fine dining, or upscale setting. we would like to stay in the boston/cambridge/somerville area but will travel. we do like Lala Rokh, but thatz more persian.

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  1. Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square: http://www.tamarind-bay.com/index.htm

    1. If you can get to Coolidge Corner (easily done on the Green Line) there's Rani, which is quite good. The room is not ultra-upscale trendy, but is, if I remember correctly, a white tablecloth and well-dressed waiters sort of environment.

      1. I'd second Tamarind Bay. Also Namaskar in Davis Square has nice decor and great food, though not as fancy as Tamarind Bay.

        1. Tamarind Bay for sure. Another place to try, if you're just getting into more exotic Asian foods in general, is Helmand. It's an upscale Afghani restaurant. Afghani food isn't equivalent to Indian, but it is somewhat similar.

          8 Replies
          1. re: fenian

            Helmand is pretty great. And you can support the new government of Afghanistan!

            I've always been unimpressed by Kebab Factory... but that might be largely due to my bitterness over the closing of Noodles in that location.

            1. re: zebedee

              The sheermal at Kebab Factory is the most decadent bread I've ever had.

              1. re: fenian

                I WOULD say that I'd give it a try, but I know I'd be lying. I don't see myself going back to KF.

                So, not to hijack, but I'm now living between Kendall and Inman... I haven't yet tried the more local Indian places. Are any of them any good?

                1. re: zebedee

                  I'd rank the Indian restaurants I've tried on this side of the Charles roughly like this (leaving out places I don't recommend):

                  Tamarind Bay, Kebab Factory, Namaskar, Bombay Club, Punjab, Tanjore, Cafe of India.

                  I think they're all good and that Indian is a strength of the area. Even some of the ones I left out aren't bad, and there was a time when I really liked Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square.

                  1. re: fenian

                    Heh - well, yeah, you know what you're getting at the PD, so you can't really hold it to the same standard. It's certainly tasty!

                    I had no idea Namaskar was so good. I'll have to give it a shot. Is Haveli intentionally excluded because it's not recommended?

                    1. re: zebedee

                      I went there once and did not like it. Don't remember what I got or what I didn't like (probably bland for my tastes).

                      I think Namaskar is a board favorite. I've never had a bad meal there. The buffet is particularly good.

                      1. re: fenian

                        Ok, thanks. And now to return this thread to its original owners :)

            2. re: fenian

              we've done Helmand. while we liked it for the food and the room was nice for some reason the overall impression didn't really impress us that much. but the pumpkin app was wicked good.

            3. Slightly outside your area, but kashish in Belmont is a white-tablecloth, good service kind of place, with good food. Limited wine and beer selections. I find the Reisling they have is particularly good with spicy foods.

              1. I would have to agree with the many other posts that Namaskar is your best bet. However, what is less known is that Diva (on the same street as Namaskar, about 1/2 block away) is owned by the same folks who own Namaskar. Both have exceptionally good food (I enjoy them much better than the higher priced Bombay Club) though slightly varying moods. Namaskar is brighter and has more of a "eat with your family and friends" kind of vibe while Diva is set with dark mood lighting and louder music. Where you go should depend on your mood, but either way you'll get a great meal. If you end up going to Diva, I really suggest getting the "Royal dinner for two"... it is a steal for all the amazing food you get!!!

                3 Replies
                1. re: thunderbug84

                  Recommend you take away from Diva as the service is absurd. Food's great, though.

                  1. re: thunderbug84

                    How do you know they're both owned by the same people -- have you talked to the owners? I know that Diva's menu is very similar to some other restaurants in the area (Kashmir and Bukhara, I think?) but I though they competed with Namaskar, especially since the two places are so close together. Both the menu and the food seem very different to me.

                    1. re: thunderbug84

                      Hmm. I've never heard that Diva and Namaskar were owned by the same people. I thought Kebab Factory and Diva were owned by same group. Namaskar is my favorite Indian in Boston. Not crazy about Diva nor the dreadful Diva Lounge next door.

                    2. Himalayan Bistro on Centre St., West Roxbury might suit your needs. Great service, beautiful space, excellent food. No liquor license though.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kparke30

                        But it's Nepali!

                        Sorry, as a Nepali, I must remind folks that a portion of Nepali nationalism is that we're *not* Indian. :-D

                        1. re: Prav

                          Hi - only a small portion of their menu is Nepali, the majority is Indian.

                      2. I've been very curious about Mantra for several months, since they've imported another chef from India. I've heard a good experience from a friend, and would appreciate any additional opinions about their new menu and its execution.

                        1. A friend of mine wrote a review of both Diva and Namaskar a few years ago and she was the one who informed me that they are owned by the same people. I'd hate to put false info out there, so I'm going to do some investigative work myself and find out if this is true. I'll get back to the board soon!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: thunderbug84

                            Hmm, I'd be surprised if they were owned by the same people. I know a group owns Diva, Kashmir, and Mantra, but I can't find any info on who owns Namaskar.

                            1. re: thunderbug84

                              I understand that Diva and Bukhara are owned by the same people. I think Namaskar is a seperate entity.

                            2. my vote is and always has been for Namaskar. their uttapam and lamb dosa are particularly excellent. they serve an unusual dish of stuffed and rolled colocasia leaves(can't remember the name, sorry).
                              I agree with Alice about not caring for Diva.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                The taro leaves dish is called patra. Tanjore has it too, and serves it with an unusual bread (of sorts) called dhokla. I will be forever spoiled by the incredible (seriously) dhokla/patra I used to get at a place in Atlanta 8 years ago. So it goes.

                              2. I haven't tried all the places mentioned here, but Rangoli in Allston (on Brighton Ave) has always been my favorite.

                                1. we ended up going to Tamarind Bay this past friday night. and although i thank all of you who posted this recommendation, it did not impress. we found the basement space to be a little too crowded and cramped, also a bit bright. lowering the lighting would of helped to cover the dirty handprints on a lot of the doors and the peeling/chipped paint.

                                  we found the food to be decent, but nothing more. i had the lever fry and it was everything that put people off liver. it came as several hard blocks cooked into a grainy dry mess. it was not saved by the sauce which had almost no discernable flavor, or if it did it was overpowered by the liver. we also got the village chicken which while tasting good was more bone/gristle than meat. my GFs tikka masala was decent although the sauce lacked the creaminess of places like the Kebab Factory. the black lentils were the sole standout as they were cooked perfectly and sauced very gently. the naan presented as if it had been cooked earlier and warmed (barely) before serving.

                                  on the plus side the service was outstanding. every question answered directly and courteously. drink orders were filled with no delay almost as if we were the only patrons (we by no means were) and our server's overall attitude was that he truly enjoyed his job.

                                  on our way out i did notice another table that had what looked like a grilled shrimp dish and some kind of fried(?) chicken that made me re-think our choices that evening.

                                  so as far as fine dining, it was not what i was really looking for but i may take another look to check out those two things i did see that looked good or if the board can recommend other dishes, or point out, where we ordered wrongly.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                                    Sorry about your bad experience. I like their fenugreek trout, mahi mahi in gravy, tandoori quail, the shorbas (very, very good soup), tawa paneer (delicious saffrony cheese appetizer), and eggplant in cashew gravy (but only as a side dish). But truthfully, Kebab Factory may be even better, and I find myself gravitating there for Indian.

                                    1. re: fenian

                                      wuzzint really a 'bad' experience, just not what we were looking 4. we also did try the pea soup, very spicey (a gud thing) but kinda thin, i think it could of benefited from more fat of some type to give it a little more body.

                                  2. Bukhara in Jamaica Plain gets my vote, though pricey. If you're leaning towards cheaper fare, Ghandi on Mass Ave in Cambridge has great meal combos, and Punjabi Daba in Cambridge I've been told has the most authentic (Northern) Indian food in the area. Hope that helps!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: twilightx

                                      thanks for the recc. we were not looking for cheap eats at all, but fine dining. although i like Punjabi Dhaba i find a lot of ther dishes bland and as a previous thread here noted itz difficult to get them to ratchet up the heat.

                                    2. Masala Art in Needham. They have a tasting menu by reservation only that I haven't tried yet, but it sounds great.

                                      1. I never find that "fancy" Indian places deliver. I think Rani & Bukhara are hands down the best Indian in the Boston area. Rani for Southern Indian and Bukhara for Northern although both places serve both types of food. These places are at least authentic and not "western fusion" or just plainly westernized like many of the above-mentioned restos.