We were greeted at the new Indian Street Food restaurant on Bayview with its door held open. Our coats were taken and the staff pulled back our chairs for us and ensured we were seated comfortably.
The restaurant is dimly lit but has a great atmosphere, and the tables are nicely spaced so as not to feel crowded. The place was fairly empty when we arrived (6:45) but had filled up by the time we were enjoying our meal.
The décor was very attractive and the owner, Hermant Bhagwani, stopped by to personally explain the change in the restaurant. Leslie Heath had not realized that it used to be Amaya and asked many questions of the owner regarding the change and the authenticity of the street food idea.
We were then treated to a free lassi welcome drink. This is akin to a yoghurt smoothie in a shot glass. It has tamarind and crushed pistachios. June said it “tasted like breakfast”. Leslie said it was very nice.
We then asked the waiter to take our photos, which he gladly did and took his time to ensure he had a good shot.
The men both started with a beer (Amsterdam for Nigel, Mill Street Organic for Andrew) and June had a Niagara chardonnay. Andrew said it was a shame they didn’t have Indian beer on the menu, but Nigel appreciated that they were trying to support local brewers.
We chose three appetizers. The first was Chaat on Wheels (wheat crisps, frozen dhokla, spinach fritter, lentil dumpling, lemon flavor crunchy noodle, tamarind chutney, mango-mint chutney, sweetened organic yoghurt, chaat masala gel, curry leaf and mustard seeds water). It is a salad that tastes like summer (June said). Leslie said it was “so tasty” and Andrew said it was excellent!
The other two appetizers were a tray of pompadoms which were so crisp and brightly coloured and served in a wooden cutlery tray. The three dips offered a variety of flavours – sweet, spicy, and spicy-sweet.
The third appetizer was the baingan fries. These are deep fried slices of eggplant served with a mustard yoghurt dip. Fantastic! Andrew said “I didn’t even know I liked eggplant.” Leslie said, “Pass them back.”
We then took a break and consulted the waiter on suggestions for our main course. He recommended we choose three meat or fish mains and a veggie side.
His suggestion was the lassoni cauliflower for the side, which was tremendous. Hot and sweet fried cauliflower garnished with sesame seeds – it was light and crispy in perfect bite size pieces.
Between the starters and the mains, we were brought fresh, clean, warm plates and new cutlery.
We ordered butter chicken, the only dish in the restaurant with butter or cream. The owner had mentioned that they have removed them from everything else on the menu to make it more authentic.
We also ordered the beef short ribs and the coastal prawn curry. All the items were delicious.
Nigel: The prawn curry was an “amazing mixture of spices”.
Leslie: The butter chicken was a “good mix of spices you wouldn’t normally find in a butter chicken”.
Andrew: The short ribs “melted in my mouth and were very succulent”.
June: “ I loved the cauliflower. It had a unique, almost barbeque flavour.”
Of course we also ordered some garlic naan which was a perfect accompaniment for soaking up all the extra sauces.
We were full after all the mains, but managed to finish everything. The portions were a perfect size and we were thrilled that the waiter hadn’t tried to convince us to buy more than we could eat.
He did however suggest dessert. We were full but decided to try some kulfi, which is a very creamy cold, hard, ice cream with pistachios. Leslie said it was a nice alternative to some sickly sweet Indian desserts.
We were also presented with complimentary chai tea. Andrew was sure it was somehow made with chocolate milk so he asked the waitress who confirmed it had chai tea, milk and some spices (but no chocolate). June said it was the perfect finish to the meal.
Nigel had been out for Indian food for lunch and said, “This beats my lunch hands down.” He also loves the name of the restaurant.
Andrew: Excellent, but could use an Indian beer on the menu.
Nigel: Fantastic food – the only thing we could’ve used was a side table to help hold all the dishes.
Leslie: Excellent addition to the Leaside community.
June: Best Indian on Bayview in a long time.
June paid the $207 bill and remembered that the tip was already included.
Story written by: JUNE SMYTH, ANDREW SMYTH, LESLIE HEATH AND NIGEL HEATH.