The first time I reviewed Passage To India was in 1990 when it had just moved into its storefront space on International Drive, near Kirkman Road. I liked it quite a bit, and the owner liked my review so much that he had it blown up and placed it in the front window, where it remained for many, many years.
The last time I visited was a couple of years ago. I politely requested that the owner remove my review from the window. Everything about the place had deteriorated, from the quality of the food to the service to the weary worn decor. It had become the kind of restaurant I fear visitors to Orlando will visit and associate with our city.
So I was a bit trepidatious as I visited a new location for PTI, farther down International Drive at Westwood Boulevard. But this experience, while still not stellar, was much better. I would not wave people off if they seek to dine here.
I met someone for lunch recently and found the restaurant, which is quite large, quite empty. As we were shown to our table we were also shown the lunch buffet, which was not a huge spread as buffets go but which had a thoughtful array of dishes. Our server told us we could order off the menu if we preferred, but my guest and I decided to go for the buffet.
The items were not clearly labeled, but it was fairly easy to figure out what was what. There was a nice lamb curry and chicken masala, and I liked the lentil soup. The rice was sufficiently fluffy and easily soaked up the wonderfully spicy gravies. (No punches were pulled with the spicing, as my sweaty brow indicated). The only item on the buffet — which could change day to day — that did not satisfy was the tandoori chicken, which was too dry.
With the buffet we were served a basket of naan, which just might have been the best thing about the meal. The flat breads were warm and chewy and even better as a scoop for the food.
Our server was affable and attentive — not that he had a lot of other people to attend to. All in all it was a vast improvement over my last Passage to India.
The new Passage is at 6921 Westwood Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The lunch buffet is $9.95 and is served until 2:30 p.m. The phone number is 407-345-0777. Click here for Passage to India’s Web site.