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Apr 18, 2011 07:24 PM

Silver Coin vs. Sitar

It's been a while now since Sitar opened downtown and I'm just wondering what you-all think of it now as compared with Silver Coin (I only ate once at Taj and the chicken I had was near raw--that was enough to end it for me). My husband and I had been going regularly to Silver Coin with a friend until Sitar opened and then we started going there. Loved the low price of the buffet and things just seemed fresher and more varied.

But the last time for us was Christmas Day--went with a group (including an Englishman who couldn't wait to have Indian after a long time away), but it was really underwhelming. Nothing was as spicy as we would have liked it. And that is what we had been noticing about the place: started out with items on the buffet that had good spiciness but then eventually everything got bland. There was one time last Fall, however, when I told the server that the tikka masala finally had a nice heat to it. He apologized, saying they had a new chef. He couldn't seem to understand that I was telling him it was GOOD and please keep it that way.

After the Christmas disappointment we went back to Silver Coin. Okay, it's more expensive and there's not as much variety to the buffet, but the curry and tikka masala both had a decent kick to it. (Just wish they hadn't started adding bell peppers as a "garnish" to the tandoori--I'm allergic. I'm sure they got the idea from Sitar.) The service is also much more helpful and friendly--unlike the servers at Sitar who seem to spend all their time looking at the computer.

Wondering if others have been feeling the same way about the two restaurants. Doesn't seem to me Sitar is going to do well if they're afraid to make their dishes even slightly spicy. Who is it they're trying to please?

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  1. I haven't been to Silver Coin but have been to Sitar a number of times and Taj India a lot of times. That said, I'm not a big fan of Sitar. While I'm not blow away by Taj either, the quality of food there has been consistently better than what I've eaten at Sitar. Despite having eaten at Taj many dozens of times, I haven't had any incidents of undercooked food like you have.

    Taj India
    2226 Highland Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205

    1 Reply
    1. re: mahalan

      My favorites, in order, are Silver Coin, Taj and Sitar. Sitar runs a distant third.

      I do think Sitar has been adjusting its spice levels to the lowest common denominator. But ethnic places run into the most trouble when they try harder to not offend than they do to present an authentic (but adjustable) version of their cuisine.

      Silver Coin is more expensive than the other two mentioned here, but the quality of what they produce makes it worthwhile. Their naan is some of the best I've ever had (and Indian cuisine is one of my favorites) and their curries are excellent and varied. The service is good, as is the atmosphere.

      Taj, where I've eaten since moving here in 2000, has has a great atmosphere and good food. I've never experienced an undercooked protein.

      It's hard to judge any restaurant by a buffet, where it's the luck of the draw whether you get the food in its prime. Indian food does better than most on the steam table, but it still suffers. I haven't had the buffet at Silver Coin, but have really enjoyed the lunchtime offerings on Taj's buffet. Sitar was OK.