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Passage to India

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I wanted a nice place to take my friend out for a dinner so I took the suggestion of the Washingtonian, which lists this place as one of the areas best 100 restaurants.

WHAT A JOKE!

Everything came in tiny portions without any marvelous flavor to compensate. The dishes were neutered and bland compared to my meals at Minerva, Upudi, Woodlands, and even Raaga, at 2x+ the price. The only highlights were the whole wheat layered mint naan and condiment tray.

Our entrees were tamarind shrimp and black peas with white and red pumpkin in curry.

Sure, they may have specialties, but nothing was highlighted as such and everything on the menu should be decent right??

Somehow the owners think that serving everything in fine dining style makes the food tasty. Not. Perhaps it does if it selects for an audience with poor taste. Remind me once again not to trust the Washingtonian. Always start with Chow for criticism.

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  1. If you started with Chowhound you probably would have gone anyway. A group of us have had a couple of successful meals there. I haven't been in a while, but I look forward to returning. Could this be part of a downhill alert?

    Also, I think Washingtonian has improved dramatically since Todd Kliman took over. He has championed hole-in-the-wall places and far flung places, as well as mainstream. If you had a bad meal it wasn't because of Washingtonian.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      I'm just trying to figure out by extrapolating from the two dishes we ate in what reality that restaurant can be considered one of DC's top 100. I checked, it is top 100 for 2008. It certainly is possible that Chowhounds know their way around the menu. I didn't do research; didn't think I had to with such a glowing ranking from the Washingtonian.

      I would rather move up bracket and eat at Rasika or down bracket to where I will find Indian customers than give this place another try.

      1. re: Minger

        My advice is to always order the pickles and spices as listed on the last page of the menu. I realize this ups the ante for the solo diner. Other than that, their selection of vegetables - like lotus stem and baby eggplant - is unique and delicious. The black dal has been a winner for me. Other than that, I do find their protein selections lacking. Anyway, since I add the pickles and spices to my meal, I guess I don't notice if the other stuff is too bland.

      2. re: Steve

        Which outlet did you go to?

        I have only been to the Bethesda one. The first time I was very unimpressed. This last time - wow. I loved it. The pumpkin curry was awesome.

        Last time, two of us (vegetarians) has apps, meal, bread, and lassis. We got out of there for $50.

        1. re: Jeserf

          Bethesda. Unfortunately, I make pumpkin curry too, with a Thai leaning, and I thought Passage's would be much better. Their curry was itty bitty cubes of pumpkin in anemic curry. I'm not so much bothered by the price as I am about the combination price AND underwhelming flavors. If this were a $10 hole in the wall restaurant, I would not think of complaining.

          1. re: Minger

            So are you comparing your thai curry with their Indian curry?

            1. re: Jeserf

              I have a databank of tastes that includes thai curry and curries at Minerva, Udupi, Woodlands, etc., not to mention that at great indian restaurants in NYC. The flavors at Passages sucks compared to these places, and it is one of DC's supposed top 100 for 2008.

              The point of my mentioning my own Thai curry is that one might be impressed by the mere combination of curry and pumpkin on a restaurant menu; however novel the combination might be, it is quite easy to make, and if a restaurant does it, it better be damn good.

              And I don't make tamarind shrimp. That also sucked at Passages.

              So my question to Jeserf, are you impressed with their execution of the pumpkin curry or the mere novelty of the combination?

              1. re: Minger

                Thai curry flavors aren't the same as Indian curries. Am I impressed the combination's novelty? No, I'm a vegetarian and often make winter squash curries myself.

                I don't think it's novel.

                I though it was good - the best thing I've ever had? no. But it was very tasty. I like my curries to have more heat, which it lacked at Passage.

                Was it as good as the Indian I've had in NYC? No. But I don't think it makes sense to compare a homemade thai pumpkin curry with an indian curry. Just saying you don't like it is fine, but the two flavor profiles aren't the same.

                1. re: Minger

                  Thai curry flavors aren't the same as Indian curries. Am I impressed the combination's novelty? No, I'm a vegetarian and often make winter squash curries myself.

                  I don't think it's novel.

                  I though it was good - the best thing I've ever had? no. But it was very tasty. I like my curries to have more heat, which it lacked at Passage.

                  Was it as good as the Indian I've had in NYC? No. But I don't think it makes sense to compare a homemade thai pumpkin curry with an indian curry. Just saying you don't like it is fine, but the two flavor profiles aren't the same.

        2. Putting the pumpkin curry argument aside, the last time I went to the Bethesda Passage to India it wasn't quite as good as I'd remembered, and it was incredibly slow - I think 2 hours for lunch on a weekday is sort of beyond the pale unless there's some sort of emergency going on.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rarotonga

            I'm not a big fan either. In Bethesda I'd rather go to Haandi (although come to think of it, it's been a while since I've been there either).