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Lawrence of India -- Review!

Butter Fight Apr 10, 2011 05:22 PM

I wasn't really expecting very much from Lawrence of India when I walked in the door.
Having never been to the original before it closed, I was unaware of any reputation.
All I knew was that it was Goan food which I'd never had before and that it was open (which my first choice, Mayura, was not)
I was certainly not expecting the level of quality I found at this tiny Indian restaurant
I feel that it is very bad form to base a review on only one visit, so I have culminated my visits into one review for simplicity.
The first thing I noticed was how long it took the food to come out. I was encouraged by this because, and the server later confirmed, it meant that the food was being cooked to order as opposed to sitting in steam trays, which is something that seems to happen at some indian restaurants I've been to.
The presentation was beautiful, with the portions (smaller than I expected) coming out in little copper coated bowls, set over a flame.
The overarching flavor of most of the dishes was "sour" I'm unsure if this is due to the Goan nature of the food or not, but was a little surprising.
We ordered:
Lamb Vindaloo
As someone who loves spicy food, my eye was instantly drawn to the description of the lamb vindaloo as being "Very Spicy." I found that I could not in good conscience order anything else. As expected it was sour and spicy, but if you've been to Jitlada this spicy is nothing. The lamb itself was moist and flavorful.
Roasted Eggplant
One of the highlights of the night. Chunks of eggplant cooked in a creamy sauce with assorted vegetables. The eggplant had a nice grilled flavor that shone through and gave a smoky taste to the rest of the dish.
Described on the menu as "pickled pork" "simmered in a thick gravy," it was better than it sounded which to me isn't very hard to achieve. The server said that it was a ubiquitous dish in any Goan meal.While the gravy itself was tasty I was disappointed to find that the pork was kind of dry.
Vegetable Korma:
Pretty standard vegetables and coconut curry, but the coconut was grittier than most which made me think they use fresh coconut and not the canned milk?
Garlic Naan
Probably the most beautiful naan I've ever seen. Chewy and thick with a crispy bottom. Its what inspired me to take pictures in the first place.
For desert we ordered their homemade ice cream which comes in chocolate or mango. Both of them were incredibly delicious, although the mango was almost too frozen to eat at first.

I'm new to posting on this site, but I have been lurking around reading the posts for years. I haven't heard much mention of Lawrence around these parts and believe there should be more.
Anyone else been?

5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

10406 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Lawrence of India
10032 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

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  1. i
    ilysla RE: Butter Fight Apr 10, 2011 09:05 PM

    Thanks for the review! I also just started posting after about 1-2 yrs of lurking. The naan does indeed looking delicious. How do you think it compares to the other Indian restaurants (Mayura, Bawarchi, Annapurna.... I realize they serve different types of Indian food) in the area?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ilysla
      Butter Fight RE: ilysla Apr 11, 2011 06:43 PM

      I've never been to Bawarchi and I don't really like Annapurna very much. I guess there isn't much that is wrong, but it always tasted very generic and bland to me.
      I love Mayura, and obviously they are different styles and have different specialties so I feel ok loving both. Eating at Lawrence versus Mayura is just a different experience.

      Lawrence has a much more homemade feel to me than the food at Mayura. This is pretty subjective, and I don't really know how to classify it, but the food just kind of tasted fresher and more unique than the food I've had at most Indian restaurants. For example at a lot of indian restaurants I've been to (Mayura, New India Sweets and Spices, Hurry Curry, others) Chicken Tikka Masala is Chicken Tikka Masala. It all kind of tastes very similar. At Lawrence its very different. This could be good or bad, but it doesn't really taste like others.

      The servings are smaller, and because of this it made the experience feel like tapas or an izakaya. I went with four people and everyone got to sample every dish, but there wasn't enough to make a meal out of it.

      They are willing to make the food spicy and in fact ask how spicy you want it when you order it. No matter how many times I ask at Mayura I can't get them to ramp the heat up too much (with the exception of the Kerala fish curry, which can sometimes have decent heat).

      Overall, I'd rank them near each other, kind of depending on my mood. Both are much better than most of the other Indian places I've been to on the westside.

      Hurry Curry
      37 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

      10406 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

      1. re: Butter Fight
        Butter Fight RE: Butter Fight Apr 11, 2011 07:10 PM

        On reflection I wonder if you were just asking about the naan, as opposed to the whole experience.
        The naan is more buttery and bigger than at Mayura. I like the flavor at both places but it seemed more substantial at Lawrence also.

        10406 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

    2. s
      sushigirlie RE: Butter Fight Apr 10, 2011 09:15 PM

      Looks excellent, thanks. I'm no expert on Goan food but I do believe it tends to be more sour than the food of other Indian regions, primarily due to the use of vinegar (traditionally palm vinegar). Vindaloo is probably the most famous Goan dish, and is well known for its aggressive vinegar flavoring.

      1. b
        bulavinaka RE: Butter Fight Apr 10, 2011 10:14 PM

        If you have a chance, search the board for mentions of Lawrence of India. I'm a lurker of Indian food, but I do recall quite a few hounds mentioning their nostalgia for this place and when it was announced that they were coming back (I think it was the "Lawrence" himself or his wife who announced it), many were very happy to hear the good news. I'm just surprised that those same folks haven't posted about going there yet...

        1 Reply
        1. re: bulavinaka
          Butter Fight RE: bulavinaka Apr 11, 2011 06:46 PM

          I noticed that too. It was kind of weird. It felt like people were sad it was gone. Then they were excited it was back and then nothing. After first eating here I was surprised that no one had commented on it before, considering the lack of good indian around those parts.

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