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Banjara (Bloor near Christie)?

mrbozo May 5, 2007 02:48 PM

Anyone been? Opinions?

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  1. Delish RE: mrbozo May 5, 2007 03:17 PM

    I've only had take out and delivery. My experiences have ranged from fantastic to awful - the latter being most recent. I really hope it was just a really off night, but they've now been open long enough in this location that their product should be relatively consistant.

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      Ender RE: mrbozo May 6, 2007 08:16 AM

      I live in the neighbourhood and have had take out there a few times. We have really liked it at the price point. Its certainly not as good as some places in little india but its more then acceptable as a neighbourhood takeout place. Especially considering the other options in the area.

      1. mrbozo RE: mrbozo May 6, 2007 01:41 PM

        Thanks for the replies. I'll have to give it try. Any favourite dishes? Anything I should avoid?

        2 Replies
        1. re: mrbozo
          Delish RE: mrbozo May 6, 2007 01:56 PM

          I've always liked the butter chicken, and, except for the last time, the palak paneer. I've also enjoyed their biryani. The lamb rogan josh has also been very tasty. Instead of butter chicken, we tried korma the last time. We won't be doing that again. It was watery and uninspired.

          1. re: mrbozo
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            Minnow RE: mrbozo May 7, 2007 06:21 AM

            We had delivery from there a couple of months ago, did not enjoy it at all and will not order again. Definite avoid is the saag paneer. Rubbery cheese, bitter frozen spinach.

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            tochipotle RE: mrbozo May 7, 2007 11:42 AM

            I've been following them around from location to location - and unfortunately the experience has been getting worse. I went about a month ago, and the whole restaurant was filled with smoke from the kitchen. It was actually pretty unbearable, and I had to get outside just to breathe. All the staff were confused and unresponsive. The place was packed, the take out line up long, and nobody could care less if our order had been taken. When we finally did get our food, it was still pretty good, but not as exceptional as I've found it to be in the past. Sadly I think our love affair is over....

            1. TOchowgal RE: mrbozo Jun 24, 2007 03:18 PM

              Was this the restaurant at Yonge near Bloor?

              1 Reply
              1. re: TOchowgal
                Olivia RE: TOchowgal Jun 24, 2007 04:24 PM

                I'm pretty sure it was, and prior to that Mr.Maharaja on Balmuto (before the tragedy of the theatre collapse).

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                helenhelen RE: mrbozo Jun 26, 2007 08:36 PM

                the service is not great, but i think the food is mostly really good. i like their aloo korma, baingan bharta, daal, mushroom curry, palak paneer is hit or miss (sometimes very good, other times just okay), malai kofta, and aloo baingan. i also really like their papadums, onion kulcha and rice pudding. to be honest, this is almost everything i've tried! i love this place.. and i'm quite picky about my indian food (after having lived in london, UK).

                also, i think they use ground cashews in quite a few of their dishes which i think is what gives some of them their delicious richness.

                1 Reply
                1. re: helenhelen
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                  ministerofkebab RE: helenhelen Jun 28, 2007 06:13 PM

                  Just got delivery from them....Beef Madras,butter chicken, palak paneer, channa and naan. Happy to report that seems to have been changes in the kitchen,,,saag/palak paneer was delicious, good dose of ginger and the paneer wasn't the slightest bit rubbery. Butter chicken ...divine - nice dose of cardamon...not the like the horrid campbells soup yuck at bombay palace,,rice...nice toothsome basmati. Delivery was quick and Naan was fresh from the tandoor. Very good..actually as i was hungry ...excellent... i think the trick with this place is don't order/go on friday or saturday night..midweek the food is way better.

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                  lissah RE: mrbozo Jun 30, 2007 01:30 PM

                  I've never had a bad experience with the food at Banjara (in fact it's one of my favourite Indian restaurants - food wise), but the service is beyond terrible.

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                    YumBum RE: mrbozo Aug 24, 2007 01:14 PM

                    Competent to good cooking but the atmosphere can be unpleasant. I have given it 2 tries, with 1 remaining before I go seeking other midtown Indian haunts. Each time, we wait and wait until a very cranky man without paper or pencil appears to take the order, scolding a woman server en route to the kitchen. The woman server comes and the order is invariably missing one or two items. Solution: hire another server or plunk down a menu and a treat when people are first seated to keep them busy. But rudeness to servers? The best food loses its taste.

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                      nicopop RE: mrbozo Aug 24, 2007 01:44 PM

                      Where exactly on Bloor is it? East or west of Christie?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nicopop
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                        warlock RE: nicopop Aug 26, 2007 12:56 PM

                        West of Christie

                        Banjara Indian Cuisine
                        796 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M6G 1L7
                        (416) 963-9360

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                        amitnigam RE: mrbozo Aug 25, 2007 02:36 PM

                        OK - the service is not perfect - but the food is quite good. I think their lamb biryani beats anything I have had over on Gerrard St. The baingain bharta, kebab and just about all of their chicken dishes are phenomenal too. Certainly not a light meal, but they win points over most places for the quality of their ingredients and consistently good cooking.

                        1. mrbozo RE: mrbozo Aug 26, 2007 01:10 PM

                          Thanks for everyone's input. What I get as a consensus is that the quality of the cooking ranges from good to excellent, service is surly, and this is a place for either takeaway or delivery orders not for eat-in.

                          Time and travel have prevented me from sampling the cuisine since my original post. However, I am heartened to hear that there is a decent Indian resto within walking distance and once my diet permits I am there.

                          Now, does anyone have anything to say about the adjoining Usmania?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mrbozo
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                            abigllama RE: mrbozo Aug 26, 2007 03:52 PM

                            My partner and I had a really good meal there last Sunday. Hightlights were the Mater Paneer which was amazing. It was extra creamy and just seemed to have an extra spice that made it really good. Also the chicken tikka was perfectly cooked and spiced. Everything was really good. The onion fritters were a bit on the oily side so would pass on them the next time.

                            The service was not so hot but nothing that spoiled the meal. It was a team effort and the two females looked really nervous and uncomfortable. Orders were written down on a tablet that was placed on the table. We were given just napkins and knives..no forks. The wrong wine came out but was immediatly fixed. Food came out in weird order - Chicken Tikka which was orderd as an entree came out first, then rice, then the appetizers. We were super hungry and didn't really care, but it was kind of weird. But everyone there seemed pleasant, just a bit awkward.

                            We'd go back for sure. The super tasty food made up for weird service. Meal was very reasonable at about $80 for two with tip..including a cocktail and wine with dinner. The service could be worked on, but was more amusing than irritating.

                            We did notice that a table next to us had a hard time getting what they ordered though.

                            1. re: mrbozo
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                              amitnigam RE: mrbozo Aug 26, 2007 05:37 PM

                              Two responses. First, the service is not surly - just a little confused at times. The folks there are actually incredibly nice. Second, I think it is a place for eating in, not takeout. The space definitely needs work, but the nan, bhajia and pakora are definitely much better fresh.

                              On Usmania, I went once. They seemed very nice... but the food was not as good as banjara's, and priced more or less the same.

                              1. re: amitnigam
                                Delish RE: amitnigam Aug 27, 2007 05:24 AM

                                I noticed a few weeks ago that Usmania was for lease, then shortly thereater a sign said it was opening soon. Guess the original owner couldn't make it work.

                                I did have some tasty food from there - well flavoured and moist chicken skewers, a delicious lamb dish fried with green chiles - and some things that could have been better. The hardest part about that place was figuring out what you were getting and ordeing large quanitites (they relied heavily on combos and were flustered when you wanted more than one thing). Hopefully the new ownership will change things for the better...

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                              flibbertygibbet RE: mrbozo Aug 28, 2007 09:47 PM

                              I have been once. The food was not particularly good, though still satisfying. The service left a lot to be desired. Although in their defense, they were having a party there at the time, which took up the majority of the restaurant and possibly affected the food and service. The breads were all really good and fresh (we ordered three different kinds).

                              Of note is the fact that i don't think i've ever been to an Indian restaurant that I thought was bad. Mmmmm, curry. I'd consider this place below average. But the price is okay, so if you're in the area it could be worth a try... or you could always walk down Bloor to Mt Everest or Little India.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: flibbertygibbet
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                                pouletsecret RE: flibbertygibbet Sep 1, 2007 01:35 PM

                                Wow! I'm shocked by the comments on this board. They generally do not at all reflect the experience I had. Granted, I've only been once, last night in fact, but it is easily the best Indian I've yet had in Toronto. Easily. The service was fine and the food was delicious. It doesn't top my all-time favourite (Bombay Mahal in Montreal), but so far, for a sit-down, non-buffet, non-steam-table meal, it's the hands-down winner.

                              2. chocabot RE: mrbozo Sep 2, 2007 05:17 PM

                                We went to Banjara last night and like the others have said, the service and ambiance sucks but the food is worthwhile. I guess next time we'll be opting for take out.

                                We ordered the mixed tandoori (chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, salmon and kebab) which was well seasoned and quite tasty. I worried the chicken breast pieces would be dried out but they were ok and the fish was still nice and moist. Also had palak paneer which was very generous with the paneer and not sweet like is often the case. I think the bf prefers it sweeter but i thought it was nice. The naan was too doughy and soft imo (i prefer my naan, thinner, more outer crispness with a slight chew) and i would not order it again. Rice is rice so no complaints there.

                                I originally wanted the adraki (? it was the last listed under chicken) and a masala dosa but they didn't have the chicken dish and they no longer make dosas... that was disappointing.

                                The flies were also bothersome...

                                But I still think Banjara is good for take-out. The food is hot, not drowning in ghee and tasty.

                                Has anyone tried their briyanis? How was it? I like the idea of it but rarely order briyani because i find them too ricey with not enough flavour or meat.

                                1. kiwiFRUIT RE: mrbozo Sep 3, 2007 02:04 AM

                                  We go takeout from here about a month back, the delivery was very fast, the food was pretty good. Garlic naan was fantastic, my chicken korma tasted wonderful, but could have had a little more chicken in it. The tikka masala was apparently fantastic - I've never really developed a taste for that dish, so I'll have to go by my husband's reaction. I would order from them again.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kiwiFRUIT
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                                    pearlD RE: kiwiFRUIT Sep 16, 2007 02:40 PM

                                    Six of us went to BANJARA last night and I have to say it was GREAT! We had to wait a bit as the restaurant was packed. We were seated about 15 minutes later and we had a terrific meal with excellent service (well the dinner plates arrived after the food but that was the only slip up) We ordered a ton of food (yes, I was with my usual crew of old (?) India-trippers...we had the following.....Butter Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh (easily the best I have had in the city)Vegetable Biryani, Bhindi Masala(a standout)Navratan Curry, Makani Paneer (the paneer was soft and delicate...that's a change from most of the rubber squares around town)a new dish for us Spinach Fry (Andhra special..will have again for sure!!) Terrific Naan's both butter and plain..(fluffy and hot from the oven) and also Roti that was excellent. We will RETURN and probably sooner rather than later. Good bye to Gerrard Street for us!!

                                  2. dannyboy RE: mrbozo Nov 5, 2007 05:45 AM

                                    Had to put in my .02 on this one - had take out saturday eve i now think it's got to be one of the best in the city. Got pakoras, vindaloo chicken, beef rogan josh, palak paneer, paneer tikka, rice, naan and raita. Absolutely amazing, next time trying their butter chicken.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: dannyboy
                                      Delish RE: dannyboy Nov 5, 2007 05:58 AM

                                      I agree for the most part. I have had some exceptional food from this place, but every so often I am let down.

                                      After a few months break prompted by a previous disappointment (mentioned in my May 5th post above) just last week we made a take out order and found our butter chicken to be sublime, Andhan chicken fry a spicy cornucopia of flavour and the channa masala as tasty as it should be.

                                      However! The palak paneer (which we have had both extraoridnary sucess and failure with in the past) tasted like as though they had forgotten to flavour the dish entirely. No flavour - apart from spinach - whatsoever. It was a challenge to eat.

                                      And, as we have experienced before, the naan we received was clearly on the old side of fresh.

                                      It's disappointing because I know there is skill in that kitchen, and when it's good its really good! Consistancy seems to be their Achilles heel.

                                      1. re: Delish
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                                        pearlD RE: Delish Nov 5, 2007 09:41 AM

                                        As I posted on September 16th...we love it!
                                        Hopefully, 'Delish', we will be able to have our same experience (only 4 of us going on Friday)....am hoping that your experience of last week was just a 'blip'...will report back after Friday....am intrigued about the 'paneer' dish as that particular(September 16th) evening's dish was truly outstanding........

                                    2. JamieK RE: mrbozo Nov 5, 2007 05:55 AM

                                      Just adding a place link -

                                      -----
                                      Banjara
                                      796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                                      1. estufarian RE: mrbozo Nov 5, 2007 12:28 PM

                                        Finally got around to trying this place.
                                        Unfortunately, I'm not sure what all the raves are for.
                                        First, the good part - it's remarkably cheap. I would have loved this back in my college days when price and quantity were all important.
                                        But (fortunately) I can afford to be a little bit more choosy. If it was in my neighbourhood, I'd probably end up there for an occasional 'fix' - but as soon as I hit the TTC (or car) then my choices expand rapidly, so I'd give it a miss.
                                        Not that it's "bad" - just ordinary. the naan is indeed doughy (as commented upon by several people). Service was also 'mixed' - acceptable at those prices.
                                        But it was the food in general that bothered me. The rice was overcooked to the point of mushiness - I want some texture here. The vegetable dish (cauliflower) was also overcooked - but not as badly. The onion bhajia was doughy (too much flour for the amount of onion).
                                        The meat mains were a bit better. The lamb was non-greasy and fairly tender. However the sauces were "1 sauce fits all" - a base sauce is used which is adapted (slightly) to the style. For example, try the Chicken Korma (purportedly a cashew paste dish) and the Butter Chicken. Both taste (to me) as if they use the same sauce.
                                        So - relatively good value compared to many of the competitors. But no really defined flavours.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: estufarian
                                          dannyboy RE: estufarian Nov 6, 2007 06:26 AM

                                          what would you say is better right now estu? i think their curries are some of the best i've had in quite some time - bland? not exactly.

                                          1. re: dannyboy
                                            estufarian RE: dannyboy Nov 7, 2007 06:50 AM

                                            My problem is with the textures and the "1-size-fits-all" sauce. It's certainly not bland.
                                            What's lacking (for me) is the 'spicing structure' - layers of flavour rather than just a 'hot kick'.
                                            At its price point it's hard to beat. But for say $10 more (for two) I'd choose Trimurti on Queen. They have 'lighter' Onion Bhajia's (more onion per unit of flour) and their Lamb Pasanda (roughly comparable to the Korma at Banjara) is much creamier - but still spiced (and in no way tastes anything like the Butter Chicken sauce).
                                            The 'Gold Standard' for me right now is Tabla on Yonge - but you need deeper pockets there. Quite simply you have to pay for the additional effort and ingredients. Around twice as much as Banjara. Their lamb Vindaloo is the best I've had anywhere (includes New York and London). The Xacutti dish is also superb - I've had maybe 1 better (in Montreal!). Mulligatawny Soup and their breads (especially Naanini) are excellent. But their Onion Bhajia falls short of Trimurti's for me.

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                                          jen2202 RE: mrbozo Nov 7, 2007 05:04 PM

                                          I finally tried Banjara tonight....i thought it was very good. I ordered butter chicken, plain rice and naan bread to go. From what I observed while I was there, the staff seems very friendly. They may not be the most organized, but while I waited for my food at the bar three people asked if they could help me, and they were all very nice. To be honest, I avoided trying this place because of its appearance (lack of renovations after transforming it from the fried chicken place it used to be) but I'm very glad that I did. Staff was friendly, food tasted great, and price was excellent for the portions served. I recommend it!

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