January 19, 2014 Update:
Garam delivered yet again. The new manage who I call “The New Vinni” (because I keep forgetting his name) took good care of us. The new standout dish this time was a very nice Kerala Chicken Masala that was growing on me until I grew a little. Complex, flavor packed stuff that I was enjoying more an hour later via a series of pleasant little burbs just like the ones after the Alba White Truffles at the NoMad a few months ago. The infamous conch Kebabs are no longer on the menu. A shortage of fresh conch according the New Vinni.
BTW, Old Vinni is up to something but not quite sure what. Stay tuned! (dont know to what exactly, its just an expression)
I was dead wrong about Garam Masala!
As you probably guessed by now, I, Ziggy, just Ziggy no last name, like Seal, LOVE to eat. I love to eat and I really care about what I’m eating on a holiday (No worries I didnt turn British, just play one on the Telly). And while away we often try to eat things that are not easily available back home (e.g., Grouper, Conch). So you see where I’m going with this. Indian, Thai, Chinese food is something we eat almost on a weekly basis back home, and therefore it’s the last thing I consider eating while on vacation. Also, after many years of trial and error, and palate refinement, I sort of figured out where to get some pretty darn good Indian, Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan, middle eastern, you name, it in NYC. Therefore, when I see an Indian restaurant on an island somewhere where its quite possibly the only Indian there, 3 thoughts come to mind…
1) This cant be good. They have no other competition here.
2) I would probably eat here weekly if I lived here and its decent
3) I’m sort of getting hungry
Similar thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the new Shawarma and Falafel place that just opened right next to Patty’s Place at Ports of Call. Yours truly is truly a Shawarma and Falafel
whore snob fan.
So as you can imagine I needed a little convincing from various island friends over the years to come to Garam Masala. I was very close last year, and this year I finally took that pilgrimage to Tikka Masala Holy Land (i.e., 10 minutes from the Seven Star beach – its hard to leave that beach in the middle of the day)
First of all the place looks very modern. Last year they closed for a few months to renovate and it really looks very inviting now. Part owner Vinnie, former food and beverage head at Amanyara knows his stuff and is very passionate about what he’s serving and how. Everything is made to order using “real” ingredients which he purchases in Chicago every few months.
I can honestly say the food was absolutely delicious. Started with some nice and spicy conch kebabs (above) which had the texture and flavor of the best Falafel you will ever eat. Their Chicken Tikka “pizza” on naan bread was very satisfying. We are naan junkies and their garlic naan is some of the best we’ve had.
Chicken Tikka Masala (below) is perhaps a dish I’ve eaten more than any other in the world. I’ve had it mostly in various restaurants in NYC, in London (Indian food heaven) and eat it by my work often. I could tell when this one arrived by its color that it will be good. The only not telling part was the tenderness and texture of the meat which can be often dry and chewy. This was as close to perfect as I can remember.
Dal Makhani was probably even better. They cook the lentils for 12 hours each night and the result is a flavor festival. As with the Tikka Masala, heat is not very present and not very needed (Indian food is not necessarily about heat). Lamb Kadhai, thick stew like with some heat and big complex flavors was another winner. I kept going back and forth between the lamb and and the Dal saying “this is my favorite. No this is my favorite”, while the Masala was staring at me going “come to Mama..”. Another tasty snack here is the Chicken kebabs, although if I have to choose I’ll take those conch kebabs thank you.
After the meal I did not feel like I just ate something heavy as I often do at home. A fantastic lunch! This is closer to some of the better Curry Hill or even Michelin Star establishments in NYC. To understand the type of dedication by Vinnie all you need to do is ask him about how he found his chefs. He went back to India to look for the chefs that worked in the restaurant he frequented as a kid with his parents, only to find that one of them is working in Japan while the other in Dubai. The story itself is worth the price of admission.
So yes, I was wrong about this one, and highly highly (thats 2 highlys!) recommend Garam Masala in Providenciales. Cant wait for more.
Thank you for this! You captured my thought process exactly for *not* trying restaurants on vacation that serve cuisine of a type I often eat at home. Indian food is one of my absolute favorite types of cuisine and I eat it often in the States (in fact, I live on the same block as the restaurant people like to cite as the best Indian restaurant in DC and one of the best in the country), and for that reason I admit to writing off Garam Masala. (And I was in Provo during lobster season so felt I had to seize the day, and didn’t eat much else. :)) However, now I totally want to try it next time I’m in Provo! 🙂 It sounds great. Thanks again! 🙂
Sounds great GL. Nice to see you commenting here.
We keep postponing our April Washington DC trip every year somehow, but now that I know there’s great Indian there maybe we should make it after all next month
You totally should! Hopefully by then it will be springtime and not this weird wintry-mix horror we’ve been dealing with. The cherry blossoms might even wait till April to bloom this year.
FYI, the restaurant on my block is Rasika; it’s part of the restaurant empire of Ashok Bajaj, who seems to own half the restaurants around here (Jose Andres owns the other half) (luckily they’re all good :)). People fall all over themselves in praise of the spinach appetizer (palak chaat). I personally fall all over myself in praise of their okra (bhindi amchoor). But it’s DEAFENINGLY loud and hard to get a reservation. Its sibling in the “West End” (neither west nor at the end of anything; discuss), Rasika West End, is *slightly* less loud and much easier to reserve at. And its sibling Bombay Club, by the White House and Farragut West Metro station, is actually my favorite to eat in at. It’s very laid-back and quiet, elegant without being stuffy. It has that “colonial” decor thing going on, which is very pleasant as long as you don’t associate that style with oppression by colonial overlords, and serves more “traditional” Indian food with a little less edginess than the Rasikas, but it’s all super-well-executed, IMHO. It’s one of my favorite places for lunch (no buffet, but you can get an individual sampler of several different items). They often have a piano player (quiet background-music-y piano player, not like Bill Murray as the lounge singer on Saturday Night Live). I also love Indique in Cleveland Park (esp. their saag makai, spinach with corn) and I LIKE its sibling at Friendship Heights, Indique Heights (which has a buffet too) (though the service at that one always seems confused – the people there seem unsure as to whether they’re running a restaurant).
And of course we also have the deepest bench of excellent Ethiopian restaurants in the US, as far as I can tell. Not that that has anything to do with Indian food – just throwing that in as a vote for DC.
I’m making myself hungry now!