The great thing about living in NYC is that you will have your food allergies and preferences accommodated – much of the time, anyway.
Still, when a dear friend was told that she had a wide range of food allergies, rendering her an inconvenient combination of paleo/gluten-free/vegan, she realized that many restaurants would have to be struck from her list of to-tries. Further compounding this tragedy is the fact that she is an all-out foodie, so she has high expectations for her meals out.
This, of course, is the friend I chose to bring with me to try the new restaurant Tikka Indian Grill,* within walking distance of my apartment on Grand Street in Williamsburg. Hey, if you’re going to review a restaurant, why not really put it through its paces?
The restaurant itself is not fancy or pretentious. It has limited and simple seating, a technicolor photographic mural of Indian women at the spice market on one wall, and a bright white kitchen that opens out into the space. On the weeknight we visited, it was almost full of friends and couples.
When we went, they were still getting their liquor license, so we brought a bottle of wine to drink, no corking fee. The menu is extensive but not overwhelming. You can choose from small plates, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetarian, and vegan, mughlai biryani (basmati rice dishes), varieties of naan, and vegetable sides. Tikka does not emphasize the origin of its meats, so if that concerns you, I would suggest the vegetarian or vegan dishes.
When my friend asked about which dishes didn’t contain dairy, our waiter tried his best to be helpful, but seemed disappointed that we couldn’t eat what he considered the most delicious dishes, many of which had a creamy sauce. But we easily cobbled together a menu. We started with the five-spice tossed shrimp and Chicken Malai Tikka (tandoor fired chicken with mango raisin chutney) for a small plates first. They came neatly arranged on small plates for light but yummy tasting. Then we moved on to shrimp malai curry and the vegan pumpkin kala chana. Everything tasted fresh and healthy – why not get your spices in actual Indian food instead of in whatever fancy juice-elixir they’re selling at Whole Foods these days? The plates were large enough to be satisfying, but not heavy or overwhelming. My friend, who has eaten her way across Asia, was impressed.
Curious about what it was, I ordered the fried milk balls in sugar syrup for dessert. I know, it sounds unappetizing, but it was delicious, with a complex and surprising taste, even if it was too sweet to finish by myself.
With the friendly service, and delicious yet virtuous food, we left in an excellent mood. The prices, taste, and atmosphere are right for a casual dinner out with a friend or partner. Do it instead of ordering in – you won’t regret it.
*They had us as their guests for the night.