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Sep 22, 2010 04:09 PM

Nataraj closed and I am very sad. What happened/any suggestions?

I dont know how many others may know this, but Nataraj Indial Cuisine, a delicious indian restaurant on Bloor at Brunny (in the annex) has a "for rent" sign up. I am crushed, as I have gone there every week for years! I always got the chili paneer (which was spicy, sweet, and not chunky besides the paneer) with a subzi naan.

Does anyone know what happened? Is there any way I can find out? If they are moving or opening somewhere else, I would like to know about it! Is there any way to track down the owner or the chef to see what they are doing?

Finally, if anyone knows a place where you can get a good (similar to nataraj!) chili paneer orr saag paneer, I would be very thinkful.

Thank you for all your help!

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  1. I don't know specifics, but there was a disagreement with the landlord about the rising rent cost. I'll try and find out if there's going to be a new location.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sumashi

      To elaborate on what I wrote before, the landlord raised the rent by 66% among other things. As of now, there are no plans to re-open Nataraj any time in the next few months. If there was to be one open, it's very very unlikely to be in the same spot. Sorry to bring bad news to some of you!

    2. Trimurti is owned by some guys who used to work for Nataraj -- I have found the food to be almost identical in taste.

      8 Replies
      1. re: canadianbeaver

        Have to disagree here. Yes, Trimurti was opened by people from Nataraj and the menu was almost identical.
        This occurred maybe 5 years ago and the paths since then have been very different.

        Nataraj plummetted in quality and Trimurti becam my 'go-to' place - and I've praised it many times on this Board.
        HOWEVER this year, there have been downward trends at Trimurti - food quality has drifted down, and after 3 visits earlier this year I stopped recommending it. Meat quality was definitely down and the breads (Naan) were clumsy and almost tasteless. So much so that I re-tried Nataraj (after around a 3 year break).
        The 'new' Nataraj was significantly different (even though the menu was unchanged). Spicing had regained its complexity, but texturally it had changed the most, with the dishes being much fresher and crunchier. Almost a revelation. BUT the servings were certainly noticeably smaller. For me, this was a great improvement - my last 2 visits were very enjoyable - and it seemed as if the new chef had great potential - but, regrettably, I didn't post a new review (although I mentioned it in passing) as I wanted to be sure the new, higher quality was maintained and consistent.

        I notice that all the tables in the now closed Nataraj are still set - so certainly this was a 'sudden event' and welcome any feedback on the destination of the chef (in particular).
        Of course, I'll retry Trimurti (they've impressed on many past occasions) - but, based on other visits this year, Trimurti now resembles Nataraj only during its 'not particularly good' period.

        1. re: estufarian

          It really wouldn't be Chowhound if I posted something that someone didn't disagree with.

          1. re: canadianbeaver

            That's what 'discusion groups' are for. The more opinions the merrier - and help others decide for themselves.

            1. re: canadianbeaver

              True - but I don't think anyone is hurt by an informed and detailed disagreement.

              1. re: trombasteve

                I am not hurt -- I was merely musing that I would expect nothing less but a differing opinion. I understand I come from a different vantage point than most Chowhounders, in that I am in my mid 20s and come from a low income household.

            2. re: estufarian

              What is your go to Indian restaurant these days estufarian?

              1. re: haggisdragon

                It WAS Nataraj - as of last week!
                However, I'll give Trimurti another try.
                Other than that, I've been frequenting Segar (on Bayview) - one of the several (many?) places in Toronto that feature 'Indian Spicing' with more 'western' food (as opposed to 'genuine Indian'). Good layering of flavours (but not truly Indian). To my mind it's the best of the 'spicy' places in that general area that pay homage to an Indian(sub-continent) heritage.

                1568 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                1. re: estufarian

                  Thanks, I read some of the thread you started on Segar. Sounds like a must try.

                  1568 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

          2. Have you tried Mt. Everest Restaurant which is just opposite to Nataraj? They are pretty good too. They have Palak Paneer which is similar to Saag Paneer.

            1. I am so incredibly sad too. if it was a landlord dispute, hopefully they can find a new place in the hood to re-open. One of the wing joints is bound to close, no?

              1. I like Banjara a lot - a bit west on Bloor (at Christie), w/ a second location now, on Eglinton east of Yonge.
                I usually enjoy every dish I have there, and they each taste different, versus places where all the sauces seem the same. their naan bread and paratha are also excellent.
                I think the price point would be the same as Nataraj

                796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                2 Replies
                1. re: FresserGuy

                  It might have been simpler if I'd just copied my comments on the '2010 Closings' thread over here. I attempted to review what was happening overall with Indian restaurants.
                  One observation was (paraphrased) 'bulking up servings with rice' - and that's what I found at Banjara. I tried Banjara twice (both times more than a year ago) and had huge servings at a low price. That's one approach that can define a niche - and Banjara seems to fit that profile. Back in my student days I'd probably have been a regular.

                  I can't speak to any changes since then, but eating even a small serving of mushy rice doesn't appeal now. And ABSOLUTELY they used a few 'mother' sauces so that diferent styles of dish tasted almost identical. I don't recall the breads at all.

                  Banjara is/was maybe 75% of the price of Nataraj, but several steps down in quality (compared with the recent Nataraj).

                  But I emphasize the disclaimer - no recent visit to Banjara.

                  796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                  1. re: estufarian

                    I went to Banjara recently - but I found it lacking in flavour to be honest. The price point is low, as estufarian pointed out, but there wasn't as much flavour as I usually get from Indian food. Here's my review below


                    House Mixed Grill ($14.95
                    )Mix of Tandoori Chicken, Seekh kebab, Chicken Tikka, Tandoori Prawn, Fish,
                    This was a good start of the meal since it had a bit of everything. If you have a larger table, make sure to order a couple so everyone can get a bit of everything (there was only one prawn!) .I especially liked the Tandoori Chicken, but found the Seekh kabob and fish so-so.

                    Butter Chicken ($10.99)
                    I wasn't really a fan of Banjara's version - I found that it wasn't very rich and the flavour was lacking - which was really the overall "blah" factor of this meal.

                    Baingan Bharta ($8.95)
                    Whole eggplant baked in Tandoor, mashed and sauteed with onions, tomatoes, a dash of lemon and fresh herbs. I liked this the best out of all the dishes that we had that night. It had decent flavour & texture.

                    Palak Paneer ($8.99)
                    Not bad, not great. I've had more flavourful paneer dishes. Nonetheless, this was creamy and good on white rice.

                    Lamb Biryani ($11.95)
                    A solid biryani dish - the fried rice was tasty but I would've liked to see more nuts. The lamb was well done - nice and tender.

                    Methi Naan ($3.75)
                    I must say that I'm disappointed as there was no discernible difference between this $3.75 naan and the traditional naan for $1.95. Despite the description, it was not stuffed - there were some herbs sprinkled on top that honestly did not contribute any flavour.

                    Raita, $2.50
                    We also ordered a side of Raita for $2.50 which is a cool yogurt with cucumber, carrots, and cilantro. It's pretty basic, and we got what we expected.

                    For Indian food, I personally think that Little India on Queen Street is far better. Their butter chicken has been my favourite that I've tried so far (compared to India Palace and Nataraj), they have a well-priced lunch buffet, and great dinner options.

                    While we didn't leave hungry, nobody was particularly impressed with our dinner. It wasn't a bad experience - the food just didn't satisfy the Indian food craving. When I think Indian, I think "lots of flavour" and unfortunately, Banjara did not deliver on that front. To be fair, the prices aren't too bad . The service could have been better as we had a hard time flagging them down to order and get the bill.

                    The only time that I would try Banjara again would be for their free delivery over $30. I can see that coming in handy for late night Indian cravings when I'm stuck at work...otherwise I say skip it.

                    Erin =)

                    Little India
                    255 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

                    796 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L7, CA

                    India Palace
                    257 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

                    1430 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L1Z6, CA