The food was good - and it was good even though we were eating from the buffet, where the food was prepared on mass and much of it sat out for a bit, being kept warm. It wasn't greasy and it was tasty. The place was fairly full, which kept the turnover the buffet food high, and thus fresh. C. especially will be disappointed to hear that none of it was spicy, but that didn't keep the food from being flavorful. The Onion bhajis were mixed in with fries fried in the same batter. Although the bhajis went first, the fries were nearly as good. The Chicken makhana was particularly tasty: I took plenty of extra sauce and sopped it up with naan from the basket which was delivered to our table. Naan doesn't keep well lying out on a buffet, so the restaurant delivers baskets to the table as part of the buffet service. The Palak paneer (spinach and cheese) was worth going back for seconds. The tandoori chicken was somewhat dry, but still flavorful. There was also salad, a welcome contrast.
But we'd really come for dessert. The rice pudding had raisins and pistachios. I've had better, but this was respectable comfort food, and I went back for several more portions, along with several more portions of Gulab jamun, soft, fried, fluffy balls in a light syrup.
Later that day, after seeing the Pearls exhibit, saffronjan and I tried out a new restaurant in the same stretch of Bloor, but on the north side, called Nirvana. The host at the front said they'd been open for three days, but later a waiter confessed that they'd been open for a total of about five hours. Nirvana occupies the same space that we closed down, back when it was an Indian restaurant, for cwjat's birthday. It's been one other restaurant in between incarnations.
The dinner was an exercise in waiterly enthusiasm and working out the kinks in a new restaurant. The music was somewhat too loud, and the waiter tried hard, but couldn't figure out how to turn down the volume. We switched tables until we could hear each other, but we lost our table's candle along the way. On the way out, we saw it still burning at our first choice of table.
The menu was extensive, but we both opted for a side salad and a pasta dish. The salads arrived, spare of dressing, but flavored, with a sprinkle of chopped olives on top which, as usual, I avoided. Then we waited about five minutes before we could get anyone's attention: we couldn't eat our salad for lack of silverware! After that first faux pas, the waiter was particularly attentive to us, to make up for that initial lack of it. The salad was fairly large for a side-salad, but reasonably-sized.
After a civilized interval, our pasta dishes arrived. I'd ordered the linguini gamberi, while saffronjan ordered the other dish I'd been eyeing, ravioli stuffed with lobster and crab. Both were slightly overcooked, and both were underflavored. They weren't bad - they were just uninteresting. The waiter later asked how they were and I was honest. For once, a waiter was interested in my feedback! (Of course, they'd only just opened.) He was apologetic, profusely so. He hoped we would both come back in a few weeks when they'd gotten their act together, and if we didn't like our meal then, it would be on the house. As it was, he comp'ed our salads.
Hopefully in a few weeks the restaurant will be in better form. It wasn't bad, just uninteresting, but that's no reason to go back on its own. For now, it's no nirvana.