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Taj Indian Grill
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Taj Indian Grill (2700 39th Ave NE, St. Anthony)

My SO and I decided to give this place a try as we both get pretty excited when a new ethnic restaurant pops up in the neighborhood. Taj occupies the space over at the Shops Saint Anthony which formerly housed Cabina. (Ergo, it retains a pretty "walk-through" vibe.) It should be noted that at around 6pm on a Friday night we were one of about 6 other couples there. I commented that the Applebee's across the street probably had a bigger crowd.

We both started off with a glass of the house pinot grigio (not great, but serviceable for the price) and ordered two apps: Vegetarian samosas and garlic naan. The samosas were wonderful- a crispy exterior with pleasantly spiced interior. The naan was portioned perfectly as well and they both served as aromatic complimentary warming comfort food for a chilly and damp Fall evening. Then, we moved on to our entree's.

I ordered the chicken tikka and she had the veggie vindaloo, both at a "3" spice level, and when we tucked in we had pretty much the same reaction: Meh. The chicken was tender enough, but the sauce was a little more than a glorified ketchup. And while the vegetables in her dish weren't paltry, the flavor neglected to transcend beyond mediocre. It was our opinion that the restaurant was attempting to placate suburban palates by "dumbing down" the dishes which in and of itself gave a very Applebee's vibe. Nothing spectacular.

Final thoughts-

I commented that perhaps we should have ordered spicier which may have accounted for the unremarkable nature, and almost un-Indian flavor of our dishes.

The servers were wearing what (I think) they thought was India-inspired garb. It looked a little silly on our server and sort of came across as a peasant blouse an extra in "Hair" would have worn. Silly.

There were more people at Applebee's.

Is it just me, or is there currently a slew of new restaurants opening up that tend to put more thought into their appetizers as opposed to concentrating their main courses?

For the money and for a more traditional Indian food experience, I'd rather go to Nala Pak or the Vegetarian (Both in Columbia Heights)


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