One of Houston’s favorite destinations for fine Indian cuisine will make a big change in 2020. Kiran’s has leased additional space in its building that will allow it to expand its seating significantly.
Chef-owner Kiran Verma tells CultureMap that she’s acquired the former MidiCi pizza space that’s adjacent to her Upper Kirby restaurant. The additional 4,000 square feet will allow Kiran’s to add a new, lounge-style seating area, as well as relocate its entrance from Richmond to Wake Forest. That means diners will be able to walk directly into the restaurant from the valet stand, rather than having to walk along the side of the building.
“I talked to my guests. They can’t wait to have that entrance,” Verma says. “It will have such a beautiful canopy. You park at the valet. You enter through the canopy to the main restaurant.”
Verma says she decided to add the additional space in response to comments from diners. On the weekends, the restaurant fills up to the point that it can’t accommodate everyone who wants to begin their meals between 6 and 8 pm, and the chef says she dislikes the thought of potentially losing business. Relocating the entrance will also please customers who’ve raised concerns about walking around the building, which could be uncomfortable in cold, windy, or rainy weather.
The chef is working with her daughter Puja, the restaurant’s director of operations and strategy, to determine an exact layout for the new space. Currently, they’re thinking it might have more of a lounge feel, with sofas and plush chairs.
“I refer to it almost as the third place; it’s not the dining room and it’s not the bar. It’s the place before your meal or after your meal to have dessert or a drink,” Puja Verma says. “At high end restaurants in Napa, they start you off with a drink in one area, then scuttle you off to another area. It’s beautiful. It’s different, [more of] an experience.”
However it’s configured, the two, wood-burning pizza ovens will remain. Chef Verma has already done some testing, and she’s determined that the ovens will be an ideal place for making naan and other items. Currently, naan is prepared in a tandoor, which means a cook must reach into the oven and place it along the side. When the new space is ready, they’ll be able to use pizza peels to move the breads in and out of the oven.
“I realized after using them for one or two days how beautiful it is to make our naan,” Verma says, “If you stuff it with amazing [ingredients], it stays equally distributed. I can’t wait to cook with those ovens.”
Work will begin soon to transform the interior space and to expand the outside patio to run the full length of the restaurant. To avoid disrupting the restaurant, the work to knock down the walls that separate the two areas will be done on Sundays or at off-peak hours. If all goes according to plan, diners could be sitting in the new lounge and eating wood-fired naan by late March or early April.