Evening restaurant review
Indian food is close to my heart, very close. I’m originally a native of England, transplanted to Salt Lake City via marriage. Now you may think Fish & Chips would be the quintessential English dish. Not so anymore, over the past decade or two, Indian food has conquered the UK culinary landscape. Chicken Tikka Masala recently supplanted Fish & Chips as officially the most popular dish in the country. These days, it’s pretty much impossible to walk through any town or city in England, and not see a host of Indian restaurants.
That level of curry obsession has yet to hit Salt Lake City. It does seem, however, that Indian restaurants are increasingly popping up in the valley. When I recently noticed the special offer (City Weekly: Buy 1, get one 1/2 priced entree) for Ganesh Indian Cuisine I was excited to make the trip south to Midvale.
Wendi and I invited a friend along. Our friend had never tried Indian food before so we thought it would give us a fresh perspective. Upon arriving at the strip-mall based restaurant, we entered and were seated at once.
The restaurant space itself could be best described as functional. Indeed the dining space struck me as a lost opportunity, an afterthought really; what could be a relatively contemporary space feels cold and uninviting (exposed brick and ceiling metalwork). A large banner advertising the lunch buffet obscures a view that would otherwise reveal the kitchen to the dining room. Efforts really could have been made to make the restaurant space the first upscale Indian restaurant in Utah.
The cold sensation was physically re-inforced by the restaurant temperature. Every time a diner arrived or left, cold flooded in. Door heaters or some form of screen would be worthwhile additions.
Both myself and our guest each ordered a Taj Mahal ($6.25):
One of my favorite Indian beers, Taj Mahal has a fruity, crisp, clean taste. It’s a great way to wash down the inevitable heat and spice to follow. Although it was a little slow to arrive, this gave us ample time to assess the menu.
Once we placed our orders, a complimentary basket of Poppadoms arrived (crispy thin deep friend lentil wafers):
Served with the standard mint-cilantro-relish and sweeter mango-relish. A welcome touch I thought. More often than not restaurants charge additionally for poppadoms, which always seems like a stretch.
As our guest was not familiar with Indian cuisine we decided to order a variety of appetizers and entrees to share. First up was the Vegetable Samosa ($3.25):
Gently spiced mashed potato and peas stuffed into a pastry shell and deep fried. One of Wendi’s particular favorites and executed more than competently. In particular, the pastry was pleasantly light.
Chicken 65 was our second choice ($5.99):
A dish I do not see very often. Described on the menu as “boneless chicken sauteed with yogurt and spices”, it was also topped with a caution inducing pile of sliced Jalapenos. All three of us concurred this dish was excellent. Tender chicken in a creamy hot marinade. Perfectly-spiced, the dish had a definite kick, but the heat never got out of hand.
The final appetizer was one of my favorites, Chicken Pakora ($4.99):
A generous portion for the price. Tender chicken pieces, coated in a cilantro-rich crispy batter. Like the vegetable samosas, this was another fine example of an Indian staple. That said, I would have preferred slightly larger pieces of chicken. The pieces here were on the smaller side, making the batter slightly too prominent.
With the three of us happily satiated from our appetizers, our entrees arrived. Each was served with Basmati rice as standard. Like the poppadoms, the rice was provided free. During the meal, as we cleared up the hearty portions, we were also offered additional rice, should that be required.
Whilst we had a newbie with us, we also opted for the Garlic Naan ($2.50):
Unleavened bread, baked in a Tandoor (clay) oven. The bread was also liberally smothered in crunchy sesame seeds and socially-problematic levels of garlic; all three of us being garlic nuts, so this was just fine! Ganesh naans also come in other varieties stuffed with lamb, nuts, cheese, potato or plain.
The Tandoori Mixed Grill ($13.95) was my safety choice in case our guest failed to like the curries:
The mixed grill consisted of 2 pieces chicken breast, 2 lamb pieces (boti kebab), 2 ground lamb (seekh kebab) pieces, 2 prawns, a chicken wing and a chicken leg. This variety was marinated in a delicious mix of spices and roasted in the tandoor until tender. As is the norm, the mixed grill came to the table sizzling on a hot metal platter. The tandoori meat was spot-on.
The first of our two curries was the earlier mentioned Chicken Tikka Masala ($9.95):
Pieces of chicken breast simmered in a silky sauce. A very creamy and rich curry. I would have preferred a slightly bigger portion all told. With that in mind, it was still a great curry.
Our final choice was the Bindi Masala ($8.95):
Fried Okra added to a masala sauce. Another scrumptious curry, one of many vegetarian options on the Ganesh menu.
The meal was great value, roughly $65 for 2 big beers, three appetizers, three entrees, rice, naan, poppadoms and relishes. All three of us were stuffed to the gills. We could certainly have restrained ourselves and ordered less, but where is the fun in that.
Our guest was especially impressed vowing to try Indian food again as soon as possible. For myself and Wendi, the drive to the Fort Union area was a little on the far side. We would both certainly recommend the restaurant to anyone living in the area, and indeed anyone looking to try somewhere new.
Ganesh Indian Cuisine is located at 777 E Fort Union Blvd, Midvale, 84047, Utah.