Monday, June 11, 2007

Nice interior, strange food - A Taste of Indian, Bergen

Having spent close to €200 on a brilliant dinner at Spisekroken, we had to hunt for a less expensive dinner place on June 2nd. My nephew Knut had dined at A Taste of Indian before, and wanted to try it again. Good location, nice interior, but nothing more to boast of.

Location: BBBB

A Taste of Indian is located at Marken, in a small charming wooden house in a small quaint street not far from the Bergen Railway station. Relatively easy to find.

Atmosphere: BBBBB-

Inside the house you find yourself in a small and intimate room, painted in a deep red colour with Indian objects on the walls. I found the red rooms slightly over decorated. The strong red colour and the objects left me with almost a Christmas feeling, hardly the right sentiment in an Indian restaurant.

We were seated by the window. Our table had large plates in metal by each seat. The china, used during the meal, had been custom made for the restaurant, and beautifully decorated crystal glasses for our wine. The food was served in Indian metal pans heated by a hot flame underneath. So far so good. Pity the food was so strange, by such a nice table.

Price: BBB

The price on the food was reasonable, as paying up to €20 for a main dish is normal in Norway. I, however, would never have paid €20 again for the food we ordered.

Service: BBB

Service was OK, but nothing more. Ordering went smooth and we were served our meal in reasonable time. My nephew remarked that the staff seemed rather uninterested. No small talk and no smile to customer. This as a contrast to the helpful and kind staff at Spisekroken two days earlier.

Food: BB+

This rating is mostly due to the poppadoms and the red wine. If we were to rely on the food, the scored would have been much lower.

The poppadoms served with chutney, raita and a strong chili/coriander dip were good.

Knut ordered nr. 16, Saslik, from the tandoor described as "tender pieces of bone free lamb marinated over night in yoghurt and spices. Baked in tandoor med spiced onion, red pepper, tomato, and mushrooms. Served with green salad, lemon and mint sauce."

I ordered number 27 - Pasanda, "tender pieces of bone free lamb in a sauce from tomatoes, cashews, almonds and coconut milk, garnished with raisins."

We shared from both trays, and discussed the food during the meal.

The Saslik was served on a hot plate, brilliant red colour, and with a small heated pan for the sauce. The meat was a little dry, but the taste was good, moderately spiced - not very well balanced. But when you tried the gravy, you asked yourself - is it really this way Indian mint sauce is supposed to taste? It tasted bitter, a touch burnt, and no mint.

The pasanda were a few (too few) chunks of lamb in a pale coloured sauce. Smooth with no chunks of as tomatoes, almonds or cashews - and where were the raisins?

Tucking into the meal, I caught myself thinking - again; is this the way it is supposed to taste? A sweet, mild, borderline puddingy taste, and the few pieces of lamb drowned in the little pot of gravy. As we were supposed to share, my nephew got one small and one slightly bigger piece of lamb from my dish, whereas there were plenty lamb to share from his plate. No hint of the lovely balanced spiciness of the Indian kitchen here. Even the coconut flavour was absent and I used a big dash of salt to create some balance to the dish.

And the wine. I started on the wine-list, and after 4-5 requests of wines that were "sadly not available", I ended up with the house wine. We could have been worse off, as the Spanish / South American wine (unidentified) tasted great. Rich, fruity with a distinct oak character - a perfect wine for a perfect Indian meal but sadly not for ours. To be frank - the 2 B-rating would have been even worse with another wine.

A strange meal, so unlike the numerous other Indian dishes I have enjoyed, aromatic, well balanced, some of them hotter than hell, but a reflection of this great country. I hope they are better with their other dishes. Some newspaper reviews have been good, but we were very disappointed.

Rating BBB+ (3,41 points)

Much due to the interior, location, and the wine. The food would definitely only score 1 or 2 B's by itself. If some of you have better experiences from Taste of Indian, you are welcome to adjust the picture, as this was not good enough.

Address: Marken 12, N-5017 Bergen
Phone: + 47 55 31 11 55
Fax: +47 55 31 11 56

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