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Oct 8, 2008 12:14 PM

When Your Assets Decline, where do you still Dine?

I'd been meaning for some time to start a thread on "where are you a regular." Like in Cheers: where everybody knows your name. But with my face glued to CNBC for the past few weeks I thought this title more appropriate. I missed out on a Smith and Wollensky wine dinner this week, and Paradigm (both $100 dinners), largely due to finances and depression. This has led me to conclude that economic conditions are a true test of restaurant loyalty. So no matter how bad your retirement accounts look, where will you continue to eat?

I'm going to give long-overdue kudos to the only place in SoFla where I can call myself a "regular": INDIA HOUSE (Plantation, Broward County)

I'm have no Indian ancestry, I have no financial or other interest in the restaurant, and I don't even live near it (I'm in Aventura), and yet every 2-3 weeks I HAVE to get my weekend brunch fix. It's worth the trek (even with $4 gas) for 3 reasons: (a) It's casual enough that you can come as you are and bring kids and not even think about it (we usually come at 11:30 when everything has just been put out and we basically have the place to ourselves), (b) At about $13, it is simply the best deal I've ever encountered, and (c) I have grown to love the consistent offerings as if they were the comfort food I grew up with. It is just insanely good, and no matter how much I lose in the market, I won't stop going!

I found this place almost 5 years ago through Zagat when it was on Commercial Blvd. East of 95. 2 years ago it moved to the Best Western hotel on University near Sunrise. I've never ordered a la carte (or been for dinner), but I've been for the buffet lunch both on a weekday (more limited; less expensive) and on the weekend, which is the time when my family are "regulars".

The weekend Lunch consistently includes:
1-2 Rice dishes (Basmati, plus one other - lemon rice, or more often a biryani);
A Paneer (most often sag paneer - spinach, but it varies)
2 other vegetarian options (chana masala is a common one, as is an eggplant stew I love)
A chicken stew (most commonly chicken masala 8 times out of 10)
A goat stew
Tandoori chicken
A stir fry vegetable and/or chicken
2 dessert options: honey balls are a mainstay, with the other option rotating between rice pudding, and rasmali - which involves a cottage cheese 'ravioli' in rosewater)

There are many other chutneys and yogurt sides too numerous to list, and on the weekend they have a 'chat bar' where appetizer plates of all kinds of stuff I could never name are combined in a mix of spicy, savory, creamy and minty.

I've been to Royal India, Heelsha, and House of India on 163rd, all of which are way closer, but it's this place that keeps me coming back time and again. I eat enough chicken masala alone to make up the admission price, and I never need or want dinner when I've had lunch there.

So this is my recession pick. What's yours?

India House:
1711 N University Dr
Plantation, FL 33322 (Map)
(954) 565-5701

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    1. re: ankimo

      so that place is good? I keep seeing it packed to the rafters.

      1. re: Icantread

        while it's novel since it's a new location in miami, i was surprised to find the grilled 1/4 dark chicken to actually taste pretty good -- i.e. seasoned well all the way through (compared to others in its class like pollo tropical, boston market, etc.)

        1. re: ankimo

          Is that the chicken chain that originated in Guatemala? I remember when one opened in Dallas a few years ago--the lines wrapped around the block. After waiting in line over a half hour, I learned what the hype was about--it's GOOD!

    2. I like to eat at Golden Corral on Commercial off University in Tamarac, you can get a senior discount and if you have the Primecard you can get even more off. I also like to eat at the Bagel Tree restaurant on Oakland Pk. Blvd. between University & Inverrary Blvd. in Lauderhill area. It has the best tuna fish mini platter, also seafood salad platter, great corned beef, almost anything they serve is the tops!

      1. Destin-Ft. Walton Beach here

        We haven't cut back on frequency, but between trying to reduce spending and mister mouse trying to reduce the waistline, we've cut back on volume. So no more spring rolls at Jasmine Thai near Publix. (Tasty food that's just across the Mid-bay bridge from home) and we've gone from splitting a bowl of gumbo and getting sandwiches to getting two bowls of gumbo and splitting one sandwich at Kenny D's. We realized that the reason why we kept going back there anyways was because we loved the gumbo- the sandwiches are just pretty average.

        1. If dinner gets expensive, one can always eat more breakfasts. :) But if I had to pick a favorite cheap eat, it would be at the Olympia Flame in Deerfield Beach! A greek diner with classic diner fare- fresh, well-prepared with plenty of friendly staff. :) I'm a glutton when it comes to good diner food. :)

          1. Saigon Cuisine in Margate. Their food is amazing and most entrees are under $10.