Leela Indian Food Bar
Leela Indian Food Bar might come to us from the same people behind the popular Amaya chain but cuisine here is rooted firmly in the style of Indian roadside eateries, or dhabas.
But Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives this ain’t: plates are elegantly presented, and even tacos are plated with flowers.
They also do an elaborate rice table tasting menu here, a sampling of Indian colonial dishes served on fresh banana leaves.
We start with a stunning small plate of barley and millet salad ($5.75), a heavenly combo of cauliflower and potato that perfectly balances soft and crispy elements, dressed with a spicy yoghurt drizzle and topped with lusciously popping pomegranate seeds and crispy puffed grains.
This is the place to try Indian desi tacos, enveloped in a crunchy methi thepla, a whole wheat and gram flour flatbread mainly flavoured with fenugreek.
The lamb chop ($7.95) is a standout, cooked like most items here in the house tandoor, topped with contrasting mint and fenugreek sauce and given some crunch with pickled radish and onion.
I love the lamb, but the garlic prawns ($6.95) are just as delicious and a bit easier to eat with no bone. This taco is really light and punchy with a sweet green mango chutney and crunchy rice puffs and bright watermelon radish.
The smoked spicy chicken tikka taco ($4.95) is arguably the most basic, served with scallions, pickled radish, spicy yogurt and tamarind chutney and gussied up with a flower and a mint leaf.
You have to make a choice between hands or knife and fork with these tacos, but if you’re going handheld eat quickly, because these flatbreads disintegrate over time.
It’s basically law that every Indian place have butter chicken on the menu, but who says you have to do it the same as everyone else?
This butter chicken ($12.95) is smoked, a smouldering briquette inside the covered metal dish it’s served in. The sauce is made with fresh tomatoes and melon seeds that add an innovative texture.
They’ve lined the walls with an assortment of Indian ingredients, which apparently harkens to the roadside dhabas as those small spaces are dining and storage areas in one.