Korma Sutra keeps Indian fare downtown sexy, if not spicy
There's no shortage of deluxe dining rooms downtown, or of cuisine from all over the world. But the combination of the two makes Korma Sutra (706 Main St.) an unexpected pleasure in the middle of Main Street.
Run by Simran and Neil Patel, who between them have lived around the globe, the restaurant reminds of the kind of Indian place one normally finds in London, not Houston.
There's no menu, but waiters give a rundown of what's available and offer suggestions from the kitchen.
Among the apps, the minced lamb was well-seasoned and satisfying and the tandoori portobellos were fine but not overly memorable.
The samosas earned raves for the fluffy texture (they are the traditional pyramid, not the triangles we've seen at some places), and the plum and mint chutneys were noticeably fresh, with a slickly thicker consistency then the watery bottled versions.
Every entree is served with a soup, and while the lentil soup lacked flavor, the shrimp bisque was our favorite, lacking the traditional heavy cream texture, with just enough sweet and a hint of spice.
Without a menu or much suggestion from our server, we went for a parade of the classics: Chicken masala, saag paneer, lamb korma and lamb vindaloo, served in sleek square dishes ideal for sharing. Well-prepared sides of rice, curried cauliflower and carrots with fennel came on individual plates.
While everything was enthusiastically enjoyed, some dishes popped more than others. The chicken masala was disappointingly bland, and the saag was mediocre by local standards, but the korma was excellent and the lamb vindaloo really sung with a heat that curled up slowly: Strong, but not painful.
In other words, while the spice level might be appropriate for average American tastes, Indian connoisseurs will want more of the heat implied in the name.
This is no Indika, with its creative spins and dishes that challenge the palette, but it does add a nice new option for Indian fare downtown, and boats an intimate interior that would make it a nice date spot.
In certain neighborhoods — say, Rice Village or the Galleria area — Korma Sutra could be merely a pretty also-ran. But in boldly staking out downtown, it might earn a reprieve until some of the substance catches up with the style.