How authentically Indian is Ahmed. It has a section on the menu for items made with beef. Need to know any more?
10042 University Blvd.
2901 Parkway Blvd.
There’s no reason for us to get into a discussion of preconceived notions for restaurants in this part of town. Let’s just say that a disappointing number of businesses seem to ascribe to the theory that they don’t really need to try very hard to impress customers because, being in a tourist-dominated area, a new wave of customers comes in every week. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.
Happily, I did not get that feeling from Ataj. The place was fresh, clean and comfortable, and the staff were all welcoming.
1137 Doss Ave.
Bombay Cafe is one of a handful of Indian businesses that comprise a sort of mini mall. There is a sizable food market up front, a clothing store, jewelry and such. The cafe is at the end of the brightly lit short hallway in the back.
It’s a small space that is made to seem even smaller with the inclusion of high dividers that give the impression of cubicles in a bank. The windows at the front look out only to the hallway — there is no view of the outdoors.
Instead of full service, Bombay Cafe is structured more as a fast-casual restaurant where guests order at the counter then take any available seat and wait for someone to deliver the food. Nowhere on the menu does it say this is a vegetarian restaurant, you just figure it out yourself. No matter, the food is very good, and the people are quite pleasant.
6215 S. Orange Blossom Trail
The latest to jump on the street food bandwagon, wagonless as it is, is Bombay Street Kitchen, a rebranding of sorts from a business that used to be called Bombay Cafe and was located about a half a block away.
6127 Westwood Blvd.
The young man who greeted us and showed us to the lunch buffet at Curry Mantra, a new Indian restaurant, seemed genuinely interested in making sure my lunch guest and I were pleased with the food.
Unfortunately, we weren’t.
1155 Doss Ave.
Specializing in the cuisine of Gujarat, Daana Pani is vegetarian cuisine at its best.
1133 Rinehart Road
Oddly named Indian restaurant with good food in a boring strip mall locale.
1375 S. Semoran Blvd.
Modest Indian restaurant on Semoran Boulevard.
790 E. State Road 434
On my visits to Gateway to India I got the feeling that the owners were attempting to recreate a more authentic experience, one that might appeal immediately to natives of India while offering insight to those unfamiliar. While they may be subject to the limitations of available ingredients and the influence of another place, Americanization does not seem to be a factor.Instead of “dumbing down” the spices, the kitchen prepared the dishes the way they should be done, mild ones mild and spicy ones spicy, and the results were quite satisfying.Goat biryani was a good example of the attempts at authenticity. The rice dish was infused with multiple layers of flavors, including notes of cinnamon, clove and cardamom, but the dominant sensation was one of peppery heat, pronounced but not overwhelming, and not so forward that it deadened all the other flavors. The goat was as goat can be, a bit chewy, and the presence of bones is always a bit startling, but the taste was good.Gateway’s menu features specialties of Northern India but has dishes from throughout the country. One of my favorites was the lamb Hyderabadi, a buttery brown curry flavored with ginger and garlic. It was, however, almost identical to the lamb rogan josh.
2400 S. U.S. Highway 27
Longtime Orlandoans will recognize the name Uday Kadam as the owner of a restaurant called Passage to India. Kadam sold it and the quality declined. Now Kadam is in Clermont serving the sort of fine Indian restaurant that first earned him praise, here in a modest setting made special with white tablecloths.