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thali - new indian downtown

1409 St-Marc / Ste-Catherine
opened April 22nd 2009

Their specialty is the Thali diinner deal, 7.50$ for vegetarian and 8.50$ for non veg. There is room for about 25 diners. There is a counter with prepared foods (desserts I recognize but don't know the names and pakoras and samosas) then the hot foods of the day. Not everything on the small menu is presented but I didn't enquire if they can make something else.

I went with the non-vegetarian thali which included 2 meat dishes, 1 vegetarian dish, basmati rice, salad, naan and papadam. I received lamb curry and butter chicken (chicken curry was the other choice) and some spinach but no cheese. The butter chicken has a kick and the lamb curry was mild in comparison. The spinach was not creamed, more like a stew. I didn't know if the cheese was intentionally missing. The basmati rice is white and doesn't come with any flavorings. The naan bread is thicker than what I've ate at other restaurants but it's good. The salad is tiny. They forgot my papadam but I didn't complain because I was full.

I also ordered chai and a diet coke.can.

From the menu (I type the way they spell it


Veg Thali: 3 vegetarian dishes, Basmati rice, naan bread, salad & papadam 7.50$
Non-Veg Thali: 2 meat dishes, 1 vegetable, Basmati rice, naan bread, salad & papadam 8.50$

Meals includes rice or naan

Butter Chicken 7.50$
Lamb Curry 7.50$
Chicken Curry 7.50$
Seekh Kebab 6.50$
Chicken Tandoori
- Breast 6.00$
- Leg 5.00$
- Whole 15.00$
- Half 8.00$

Mix Veg 6.50$
Alu Gobi 6.50$
Dal Masala 6.00$
Chana Masala 6.00$
Palak Paneer 6.50$
Baingan Alu 6.50$
Chana Bhatura 5.00$
Chana Puri 5.00$

Kebab 5.00$
Chicken Tikka 5.00$
Alu Paneer (veg) 5.00$

Chicken 7.00$
Lamb 7.00$
Veg. 6.00$

Chaska, sides and drinks too.

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  1. Chana Bhatura!!!!!!!! Thanks, marblebag. Now I have somewhere to quell my persistent chana bhatura craving downtown. :-)

    (that's a dark, thick, chick-pea curry with fluffy deep-fried bread, for those not in the know)

    1. This is excellent news. With Qing Hua Dumpling, Cuisine Szechuan, Cafe Myriade and now this restaurant popping up in the last six months, my options as a St-Henri resident are looking up!

      1. I just tried this place today for lunch.

        I found the food to be good and well worth the money, although I would not say that it was amazing.

        I had the butter chicken, lamb curry, and mixed vegetable curry in my Thali. I enjoyed the vegetables more than either meat curry but the real star was the nan, which was superb. I did miss the inclusion of tandoori chicken with my thali, which seems to be sort of a staple, and I would really really like if they had beer or a BYOB license as I simply cannot get full enjoyment out of Indian, Mexican, or Sushi without beer.

        The service was friendly and efficient but I don't know why they don't wait on tables as opposed to their cafeteria style set up. I would imagine that they would make better tips and it would really require no greater amount of effort on their part.

        The place seems very clean and the Indian desserts (Gulab Jamun and Barfi) looked great, although I didn't try any.

        If I were to have a craving for Indian downtown, I would go back for sure... but if I feel like a trek, I would probably still hit up Bombay Mahal or Indian Curry house.

        Finally... I asked and they do have a real tandoori oven, which validates why the bread is so nice.

        1. I have eaten here twice, and find it to be a very good value and tasty food - would probably be a little repetitive if I went too often, but on the whole, for $8.00 it's the most food I've gotten in the vicinity, the food is nicely spiced. Great bargain, and good addition to the neighborhood.

          1. They food was good, but was it just me or the meats seemed to be not hot enough?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ghostquatre

              I noticed that too. It doesn't usually bother me but here it was far too cool.

              1. re: The Chemist

                Uh-oh. So cool it might have never been properly heated? Or it had time for other 'ingredients' to join in? How did you feel afterward?
                I want to try this place out, but cool meat makes me nervous.

                1. re: Shattered

                  I think the heating table is not hot enough so if you don't eat the meats right away it will be warm. I had no side effects.

            2. Finally! I have never understood why downtown montreal has so few Indian restaurants compared to other cities. I welcome the appearance of a new one and can't wait to check it out. Thanks for the tip, marblebag!

              1. Went for the first time yesterday. Excellent food, amazing prices. It's a good sign when you walk in and half the place is full of east Indians.

                The butter chicken was the highlight, it was actually quite spicey (we're so used to the dumbed down version, I had almost forgot it was supposed to have some heat). To follow up on the OP's comment about the spinach, it had cheese when I was there. I also had the lamb curry, also great.

                The naan was huge and hot from the oven. All the dishes were piping hot too. Seeing as it's just around the corner from work, there were many dishes I didn't sample (they have 3 meats, 4 veggies plus pakoras, samosas, etc.), and most of all, the food and prices are incredible, I will be back. Very often. This restaurant is a winner.

                (now its only a matter of weeks before all the papers review it and the secret is out)

                1. I just got back from Thali and i'm impressed. I got the meat combo and really enjoyed the price and portion. For $8 including tax i was full. I picked the lamb curry, chicken curry and spinach. I thought the spinach was really good and decently spicy.

                  It's not the best indian in Montreal but its good and for a Concordia student this is the perfect budget meal and it's served quick. I'll be going back for sure.

                  1. I went for the first time today as well, it was pretty crowded and I was impressed with how fast I was served. I got the meat thali, and chose both chickens as my meats. The guy even made sure I had fresh naan.

                    All in all it was pretty good, I would probably go back because of the price. The naan was fantastic.

                    1. I stopped in today... much after the lunch crowd. My impression was just so-so and kind of meh - perhaps because the food had sat a while, perhaps because I compare all Indian against Shahi Palace.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Andria

                        Have eaten there twice now, and have been suitably impressed both times, though the food seemed slightly better the first time. The service was very friendly, and in conversation, the woman at the counter told me it's run by the same owners of Punjab Palace on Jean Talon. Great to have reliable Indian food in my area now; it's a definite go-to.

                        1. re: wokhei

                          Hmm, I thought the older lady (whom I presumed did the cooking) looked familiar.

                          1. re: wokhei

                            I've eaten there every few weeks since the 2nd week it was open (at least 10 times). About the 2nd or 3rd time I found the butter chicken a little soupy and skimpy on the meat, but they've found their consistency, and it's great (& still have new dishes or side nibblys I haven't tried each time I go).

                            Agreed that cheap, great Indian was long overdue downtown.

                        2. Well, I have been there about 5 times. Basically, it's inconsistent. Inconsistent in spice level, quality of preparation, amount served, etc... but it does have good days !

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: MtlChris

                            So have they worked out the food consistency? It put a damper on great first impressions. I haven't been in about 3 months. The veggie dishes seemed regularly good, but I like meat, and the spicing there was often seriously lacking, along with really skimping on the butter chicken a couple times.

                            Agreed the good days are really good, just wondering if they're having more of 'em?

                            1. re: Shattered

                              I've only had one not so good day there, most of the time it's flavourful and tasty. I've probably eaten there 7 or 8 times now. Have I been getting lucky?

                              1. re: Tiny Iota

                                I wouldn't go so far as to say you've been lucky. I've been a few more times than you, and even when it's off, it's still pretty good. But it was great early on. The butter chicken especially has become the usual creamy fairly bland stuff when it had some bite before, and as mentioned, they really skimp, so I think I'm off that dish for good. But the naan is as good as any I've had, hot and crisp out of the oven every time. Meat curries and vegs fall in between, and inconsistent.

                                I think I'm due for another visit in any case, maybe if I have time when I'm in the area later today.

                                1. re: Shattered

                                  maybe this is part of their strategy to keep customers coming back :/ teasing us with varying portions, we keep going in the hopes that we'll catch a glimmer more butter chicken then the previous visit

                                  1. re: sharkbait88

                                    Haha, you never know. Didn't make it today, but now I'm determined tomorrow or Friday...

                              2. re: Shattered

                                i've been there only twice, everytime i go they literally only give me 2 pieces of butter chicken. besides that its great.

                                1. re: sharkbait88

                                  They are also extremely skimpy with the paneer.

                                  1. re: sharkbait88

                                    I usually get 3-4 pieces of the chicken, i guess depends who you get cause they make the plate in front of you which is a rarity for any restaurant. But I got no complaints, you still get another choice of meat and a veg with rice and nan. For 8 bucks, you can't go wrong.

                                    Sometimes I have a butter chicken craving, so i get just the butter chicken which inc. rice or nan, I pay the diff and get both. If it's just BC you want, then go for this.

                                    I realize one thing with this place, I go here once or twice a week, which is more often than any other Indian place downtown, the quality and price is right for me.

                                    1. re: mtlfoodrocks

                                      I basically agree with this. I still like the place, food is good to great, and value is excellent. But if it was just great all the time...

                              3. went for the first time tonight and was pleasantly delighted! the butter chicken was smooth and well balanced and the naan was extremely fresh and perfectly chewy. the portions of each item in the combo were fairly small but as a whole it was a massive meal. i also ordered a chai, which tasted like it had been boiling for a couple days and had chunks of burnt milk in the bottom but nothing's perfect all the time. i don't think there's a better value downtown right now.

                                1. I tried it the other night around 10 p.m. The format of it reminded me a bit like i was eating at a cafeteria. I had the non veg thali, chose Butter chicken, Lamb curry and peas and cheese. At first I thought it was ok but the more I ate the more I realised its not great at all. Didnt enjoy the flavours of the curry and the chicken was dry, especially since it was all white meat. The best part of the meal was the peas and cheese( not sure the name of it). Although for the price and the convenience it was almost worth it.

                                  1. Just discovered this, I popped in for a quick dinner after work, around 6pm. Really impressed!

                                    The place is pretty much as described by the OP, it's simple and down-to-earth, much like the streetside Thali restaurants in North India it aims to recreate. I spent some time in Gujarat in 2008, and with the traditional metal thali plates and cups, the complex aromatic flavours and authentic music playing, I was taken right back there!

                                    The prices are incredible, quite possibly the cheapest you'll find in Montreal (on a par with the far inferior Indian buffet in the Eaton Centre food court). They're now 50c higher than those above but you will feel very full for $9+tax, with no waiting. A real bargain.

                                    The reason this place is better is the flavours, you can tell that authentic recipes have been used. The butter chicken was creamy and succulent, the lamb curry had a great complex spicy flavour, and the saag was just right, smooth but still maintaining some texture. I agree with the previous commenter about the naan, beautifully fluffy and soft but still sturdy enough to scoop up the curries. Generally the spice level was about right, hotter than most North American indian restaurants but still softened slightly for the Western palette. Just below a madras in UK terms.

                                    It was also nice to see the meat was good quality, no bones or fat (this is one area where it's better to take the Western approach than be authentic!)

                                    All in all, thoroughly recommended. Well worth a visit.

                                    Thali Cuisine Indienne
                                    Montreal, Qc, Montreal, QC , CA