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Banjara on Bloor- & Madras on Bloor is it worth a visit? New to Bloor and Bathurst and Hungry!

i
Idas Dec 19, 2012 10:29 AM

Hello,
we moved to Bloor and Bathurst and trying lots of different places.

We tried Rajput's Bistro east of Christie and despite wanting to like it a lot, it was not good at all. (Sauces were all very similar and too sweet and tomato-based, naan was the oddest texture, even the rice was sticking together, the shrimp dish had used obviously grocery store frozen shrimp).
The owner is so very kind and the place is cozy but the food far from acceptable, even if well priced.

There is a Banjara and Madras both west of Christie as well as another Indian restaurant adjacent to it.
Are either any good?

Fresh naan and fluffy flavourful rice is mandatory, otherwise I'd rather just make rajmah, mung bean dals and channa myself and my own average basmati rice.

Are either worth a stroll past Christie?
thanks!
Idas

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  1. prima RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 10:36 AM

    I haven't been to Banjara or Madras on Bloor, but I do like Maroli on the north side of Bloor, east of Christie. http://www.maroli.ca/menu.php
    Maroli serves Keralan cuisine, so naan isn't one of their specialties.

    I'd think Banjara is a better bet for good naan.

    2 Replies
    1. re: prima
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      Idas RE: prima Dec 19, 2012 10:55 AM

      thanks Prima!
      I met the owners and their son is in my daughter's class at Palmerston we found out. They are so warm and friendly.
      I've not had Keralan food, I look forward to trying it.
      It's closer to my nightmare reno on Markham St. anyways but on nights when we are driving somewhere the parking at Banjara could be very handy on the go.

      1. re: Idas
        prima RE: Idas Dec 21, 2012 09:31 PM

        Hi Idas,
        so, I tried Banjara tonight. The naan wasn't anything special. I much prefer the naan at Indian Rice Factory and Copper Chimney.

    2. ComerDemonio RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 11:51 AM

      Banjara is our go-to Indian restaurant in this area. They serve \reasonably priced, flavourful, quality food. Service is quick but a little inconsistent. Naan has always come hot and fresh. I rarely order rice dishes so I can't comment on that.

      Madras, while run by the same owner, is definitely not as good.

      1. estufarian RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 12:00 PM

        I found Banjara 'just OK'. In Michelin parlance 'not worth a detour'.
        Spicing was just 'hot or not' - no layering, and most of the dishes I ordered were rice dominant - they give huge portions of rice (not particularly fluffy, although that doesn't bother me) which makes the dishes appear larger than the protein (or whatever) would require.
        So, if you go, maybe follow CornerDemonio's approach.

        3 Replies
        1. re: estufarian
          ComerDemonio RE: estufarian Dec 19, 2012 04:58 PM

          Certainly not Michelin rated :) I eat mostly vegetarian dishes. Paneer, cauliflower, dhal, etc. I've tried a fish dish but I've never tried the chicken, lamb, or other meats.

          We have liked Indian Rice Factory on Dupont but it is not cheap. They bill themselves as Indian flavours using fresh Canadian ingredients. Their paneer is perfection.

          1. re: ComerDemonio
            estufarian RE: ComerDemonio Dec 19, 2012 07:56 PM

            Indian Rice Factory has some of the best spicing in Toronto. Also an excellent wine list.
            BUT their service is atrocious - so much so that I rarely venture there. Thumbs in food; servers actually looking away and talking to others while placing (wrong word!) the food in front of you.
            And the prices are certainly higher there (probably justified by the higher quality ingredients) - but I just can't get over being ignored.

            1. re: estufarian
              p
              pearlD RE: estufarian Jan 24, 2013 04:47 PM

              I couldn't agree more....it is our 'closest' Indian restaurant but too many meals marred by indifferent to rude staff and the owner who passed away (r.i.p.)(son has inherited) was one of the most unfriendly people I've ever met...the food was always good or at least 'interesting' in the best sense, particularly in the spicing, but the attitude of both mother and son turned us away permanently...we usually make the trek to Gerrard Street, but also go to Banjara on occasion.

        2. MissBingBing RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 12:16 PM

          Banjara delivers iirc.

          1. a
            Arcadiaseeker RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 01:45 PM

            Not a huge fan of Banjara. I find all the dishes taste the same and the last time I ordered takeout the quality was pretty poor. Go North to St. Clair and hit Savera. That's the best Indian restaurant around for my money.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Arcadiaseeker
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              Idas RE: Arcadiaseeker Dec 19, 2012 06:35 PM

              Thanks, I'll add Savera to my list of places to hit over the holidays. I am in the middle of a reno inferno (suprise whole house gut drainage to shingles) so I've had no decent kitchen since late Novermber and won't until mid January so we eat out a lot. It's nice to have options.
              Merci!

              1. re: Idas
                p
                pearlD RE: Idas Jan 24, 2013 04:51 PM

                Forgot about SAVERA...it's good...call first..it's fairly small, we (party of 6) couldn't get in without a very long wait...but they are very obliging, the food is good, no place to wait outside, particularly in the winter months.

            2. Ediblethoughts RE: Idas Dec 19, 2012 04:46 PM

              I personally love Banjara. I'm not a huge naan fan so not sure about how good that is (though I think it was fresh) but I love their food otherwise. However, I should add I focus on seafood and veg dishes which makes mine a very specific review.

              I tried the restaurant that is right next to it (possibly called Madras) once but it didn't impress.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Ediblethoughts
                prima RE: Ediblethoughts Dec 19, 2012 04:52 PM

                Which seafood and veg dishes do you recommend the most?

                I also tend to focus on veg dishes at Indian restaurants.

                1. re: prima
                  Ediblethoughts RE: prima Dec 20, 2012 07:32 PM

                  I love the spinach fry! They have so many veg dishes and I don't eat Indian more than a once every couple months so it's hard to recall exactly which dishes I've had. I had a lovely eggplant dish (probably the baingan bharta but not absolutely certain). I've had the mushroom curry which was good but a little too saucy for me. I've also had a daal or two. I've had the fish curry and it was good and I'm sure I've had one of the shrimp dishes but can't recall which.

                  I honestly don't recall any bad dishes; next time I go, I'll make better notes! (I should add though that while my first visits were to the location on Bloor---which was always PACKED---more recently I've been to the depressingly and strangely dead location on Eglinton since that's much closer. I think the food is fairly consistent between the two locations...)

                  1. re: Ediblethoughts
                    prima RE: Ediblethoughts Dec 21, 2012 09:26 PM

                    Thanks Ediblethoughts.

                    The place was full by 7, with a line-up by 8 on Friday night.

                    I tried the shrimp makhani combo platter tonight, medium-hot, $13.95.
                    http://torontobanjara.com/quickcombop... I like that this is an option- 1/2 a piece of naan, some pakora, a dish of your choice (one veg, seafood, chicken or meat dish), aloo gobi, daal, rice and kheer.

                    Certainly provided bang for the buck. While the curries weren't as nuanced as the curries at Indian Rice Factory, I found Banjara's quick combo platter to be tasty and a good deal. A recent meal of channa masala, rice, naan, raita, and masala chai came to $40 at Indian Rice Factory, so it was a relative bargain to spend $23 including several sides, a dessert (although Banjara's kheer is way too sweet for me), mango lassi, tax and tip.

                    I thought the food on my quick combo platter was at a similar level to the Babur lunch buffet. I don't know if the food is more carefully prepared or more nuanced if you order the dishes a la carte, rather than through a quick combo platter. The quick combo platters are very quick. The table to our right had their platters within 5 minutes of ordering. I'm guessing Banjara has huge vats of butter chicken ready on Friday nights.

                    I agree with estufarian that his 'hot or not', with no layering, assessment.

                    I wish some of the Indian restaurants in North TO and beyond offered quick combo platters for 1, with the option of ordering your choice of any chicken/meat/seafood/vegetable dish. I realize Amaya Express offers a choice of 4 individual curry boxes ($10.95 for veg, $11.95 for chicken/lamb, and including rice). I like being able to have more choice and more dishes when dining solo.

                    I'd probably still choose Maroli first for an economical Indian dinner near Bloor and Christie, but I would return to Banjara again, maybe to try the spinach fry next time.

                    1. re: prima
                      Ediblethoughts RE: prima Dec 22, 2012 07:43 PM

                      I should try out a combo platter; we usually order 4 or 5 dishes and have lots of left overs. I used to adore the IRF (loved it from way, way back) but the quality didn't seem to be great enough to justify the tiny portions. But I haven't been there for several years so maybe it's time to go back and try it out. If you try the spinach fry, let me know!

                      1. re: Ediblethoughts
                        prima RE: Ediblethoughts Dec 22, 2012 08:08 PM

                        Although the prices are on the high side, the portions were a decent size at IRF on my visit a couple months ago. The rice was overcooked and I didn't like their raita much. But the naan was good. It's too bad IRF doesn't have a combo option or half portions (as far as I'm aware) for solo diners, because if I'm craving Indian before a play at the Tarragon, I only end up ordering a main and a starch, because I don't want to bring a doggie bag into the theatre.

                        1. re: prima
                          Ediblethoughts RE: prima Dec 23, 2012 09:24 AM

                          OK, I'll keep that in mind. Maybe it's time to re-visit it.

                          1. re: Ediblethoughts
                            prima RE: Ediblethoughts Dec 23, 2012 09:52 AM

                            Interesting that both Amaya The Indian Room and IRF can charge $17 for butter chicken. What I find it even more interesting that IRF can charge $15 for chickpeas when Amaya The Indian Room is charging $9. $24 for butter lobster at The Indian Room.
                            http://www.indianricefactory.com/menu...
                            http://www.amayarestaurant.com/

                            I hadn't realized IRF was more expensive than Host http://www.welcometohost.com/togo/ind...

                2. re: Ediblethoughts
                  estufarian RE: Ediblethoughts Dec 19, 2012 07:59 PM

                  Madras Masala is up-and-down. Their menu is too large for the traffic, so many ingredients (by default) are frozen (and probably dried). I've finally given up on them too. Had some decent Dosas for a while, but last couple of times the texture was all wrong - seemed to dry out the saliva, and was a bit mealy.

                3. k
                  kurtwalter RE: Idas Dec 20, 2012 08:52 PM

                  Banjara has a good reputation, always full, apparently enormous take-out portions. I was a bit disappointed at my last visit, but it may just have been a bit day, Try it, by all means. I think Madras has the same owner, but not sure. Decent prices.

                  1. k
                    kbdid RE: Idas Dec 20, 2012 09:26 PM

                    Never tried Madras but enjoy Banjara (we've never eaten in, only takeout and they always ask for level of spiciness - mild, medium or hot).

                    1. meatnveg RE: Idas Dec 21, 2012 08:03 AM

                      Welcome to the Neighbourhood!!!

                      and no it's not. Head to Mt. Everest or Maroli instead.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: meatnveg
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                        Arcadiaseeker RE: meatnveg Dec 22, 2012 03:08 PM

                        Hey Meatnveg - can you please tell me more about Mt. Everest? What dishes do you order? What do you like about the food? I've been wanting to try it but have heard little about the quality.

                        1. re: Arcadiaseeker
                          meatnveg RE: Arcadiaseeker Dec 24, 2012 08:59 AM

                          Hey,
                          It's not your average Indian place, in that it has a Nepalese owner and (as I understand) chef. That being the case, the flavours tend to be a little more muted. This may sound like a bad thing, but the taste profile very closely matches what I ate growing up in India. The spices don't punch you in the face...it's more of a light tap.

                          If going for their Nepali dishes, I like the Aloo & semee (green beans with potatoes) and Palungo Ko Saag (spinach) or the Kukhura Ko Maasu (Nepalese chicken dish).
                          Also worth a try is the Choyela and the momo's.

                          When going there for Indian food, I stick to the tandoori offerings. This is primarily Indian joints can't seem to make curry dishes to my liking (too heavy on oil and/or cream), but also because I love, love, love Tandoori chicken and tikkas (nawabi or haryali).

                          They do have the thali offerings as well. Good value and good for trying lots of stuff.

                          1. re: meatnveg
                            prima RE: meatnveg Dec 24, 2012 01:59 PM

                            Good to hear you like the tandoori offerings at Mt Everest. Will have to check it out in the New Year.
                            http://www.mteverestrestaurant.ca/

                      2. a
                        abigllama RE: Idas Dec 24, 2012 01:09 PM

                        Banjara is my current fave in the city. The chilli chicken is particularly awesome.

                        We get it delivered and have found it fairly consistent. Sometimes the pakoras can be on the cold side but we just put them in the toaster oven for a bit and they're fine.

                        I've eaten at the restaurant once and would rather have it delivered. Service was fine and all but think they space used to be a donut shop of some sort of fast food thing. It still kind of feels like a donut shop.

                        1. t
                          trane RE: Idas Dec 25, 2012 02:06 PM

                          I like both places. Madras is pretty much the only place you can get south indian west of Greenwood.

                          However, although I thought they shared a kitchen, whenever I get naan at Madras, it doesn't taste like it came from a tandoor. It doesn't have the right consistency, it seems more like it was baked in an oven.

                          1. i
                            Idas RE: Idas Dec 27, 2012 12:57 PM

                            Wow! How awesome.

                            I got such a good education. I. LOVE. CHOWHOUNDS.

                            Thanks so much.

                            I ate at Maroli. The owners are lovely! Very fresh food. Portion sizes were fine. Mains a bit oily but very tasty. My husband said it was the first fine tasting butter chicken (we order it for the kids) he had tasted in years. We also had the fish that is served only Friday/Sat. My husband really liked it. I really liked the mixed veg curry.

                            We ate at Mt. Everest today, (buffet: we were pressed for time). Nan- yummy and fresh. Rice-good and fluffy. Spice-nice. Overall, good food given that it was a buffet after all. And on the healthier side of oilness.

                            Btw: I love chanting recording in the backround. Makes me so relaxed. Barely noticed until I realize how relaxed I felt :)

                            The wait staff are very competent yet super stealthy quiet.

                            I look forward to trying the Host, Banjara and Indian Rice Factory.

                            thank you for sharing your very helpful experiences!

                            Id

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Idas
                              p
                              puffychild RE: Idas Jan 24, 2013 03:10 PM

                              Does anyone know Banjara's (on Bloor) delivery area by chance? I live at Bathurst and King... don't know if they'll deliver that far...

                              1. re: puffychild
                                MissBingBing RE: puffychild Jan 24, 2013 04:53 PM

                                Why not call them and ask? I think there's a website, too. Might have a map.

                            2. d
                              DaveMaharaj RE: Idas Jan 27, 2013 06:58 PM

                              Its my favorite Indian in Toronto.

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