Friday, September 23, 2011

Royal India Bistro in Lexington

Gail and I went to Noele's favorite restaurant tonight, Royal India Bistro in Lexington. This is certainly the best Indian food in Lexington, and I'd argue that it is the best overall restaurant in Lexington. First, the owners welcome everyone warmly and thank folks as they leave, more like party hosts than owners, really. They are two brothers, who seem to care for the restaurant like a child: One night they are serving, another night cooking, or just as likely making deliveries. After serving a new special, one brother will ask how it was as if he fussed all day for the perfect mix. These are the kind of people you are excited to see succeed.

The food is equally good, with each dish having flavors and spice notes that make it a unique addition to your meal. This is not a one-muddled-spice-set restaurant. Nor do they simply have a combination of chicken, lamb or shrimp cooked as a saag, korma or curry. Multiple regions of India are represented. Tonight we had a Northern Indian dish of pakoras in a brown yogurt sauce. Think Swedish meatballs with an Indian flair. On other nights we've had unusual dishes like biryani (a mixed rice dish) or dosa (a South Indian crepe of lentils and rice with fillings).

Don't skip the specials. They are actually special. If you see the basil naan, you won't go wrong with it. Or if you have room, try the kulfi ice cream. They make it themselves, with bold Indian spices to compliment the meal. We always get the Royal mixed appetizers, with hand-made samosas and pakoras, including Gail's favorite fish pakoras. Noele enjoys the kabuli chana, palak paneer and baingan bharta. These are all vegetarian, but rich enough that you won't miss the meat. I haven't found a favorite yet because each time I go I get something new that I love.

We will go back often, even without Noele.

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