I know after a summer full of ministry and camp, you probably did not expect a restaurant review blog. Nevertheless, that is what you’re getting. For two reasons. One, I need a bit more time to process what’s going on this summer. And two, this place was amazing.
Surprise, surprise. G’raj Mahal is an Indian restaurant. In downtown Austin. Texas. My wife and I had a date night tonight after a fairly rough day. We drove downtown, carefully considering where to eat. We had wanted to visit G’raj Mahal for some time, but they cook in a trailer and serve at outdoor tables. In Austin. Texas. In July. So there was some legitimate reasons for debate. But we braved the heat, and we are so glad we did.
We started with the Samosas appetizer. Very traditional Indian flavor, but delicious. Then we ordered some naan and panatha, which are Indian breads. The panatha (which was my favorite last summer, when I was actually IN India) was good, but the naan was out of this world. For my dinner, I chose the Rechard Masala, which was shrimp and some vegetables in a red chili sauce. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. And beautiful on the plate. My wife likes to order conservatively, but I talked her out of her comfort zone and she ordered a Kashmiri Chicken dish. Now that looked much more like what I ate in India, but the flavor was amazing. A creamy sauce with apples, raisins and cashews. And curry, of course. So complex and yet so smoothly integrated.
We cannot recommend this place high enough for all our Austin friends, and any of you visiting our wonderful city. Only that one restaurant in downtown Chennai even comes close to comparing to this food. I can’t wait to go back and try something else.
Okay, I know reviewing a restaurant in India is ridiculous, but I can’t help myself. It was amazing. And what if someone who reads this blog happens to end up in Chennai looking for somewhere to eat. I would kick myself for not having mentioned it.
The restaurant is called Kokom. It is located in the MRC neighborhood in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. They serve food from the southern coastline of India. The basic idea is you have some sort of base, a sopping up material. It’s like a bread but very different. I think many of them are rice based. Let’s go ahead and admit now that I’m an idiot. I don’t know what anything was called. I don’t know what was in it. But I do know it was awesome. So, you usually order the base (the dipper) and also a few of the gravies. One of the best was a chicken stew. But it wasn’t even my favorite, just the one I remember the name of.
Anyway, everyone there was friendly. The place was beautiful. And most importantly, the food was incredible. I might have to go back to India just to eat there again. Okay, that’s not true. But it was really good. I’ll check in with some of my new friends that ate with us that night and see if anyone knows the name of anything that we had. Because otherwise, you’ve read this whole thing and have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.
But at least I’ve done my job and passed along the news. So just in case you’re ever in Chennai, India. Remember the name… Kokum.
TIll our next meal,
Garduno’s – Albuquerque, NM
I haven’t done a restaurant review in a while, and I can’t find the name of the Amish doughnut place in Ohio, so instead we’ll talk about the Mexican place Wilson and I ate at last week. It was actually Wilson’s second trip today. He ate there for lunch as well. For lunch he had the Hot Tamales de Colores. Three different tamales with three different sauces. For dinner he had a chipotle steak. Both got high scores. I loved the salsa. That’s pretty much how I judge a Mexican restaurant. If they can make salsa, they can usually make everything else. At a Chinese place, I judge it by the Egg Drop Soup. Same thing, if they can make that, they usually know what they’re doing. Anyway, Garduno’s has great salsa. I followed that up with an old favorite, Green Chile Stew. It was thicker, more like regular stew. But it was tasty. And then I followed up with the Cilantro & Pinon Tilapia. With a jalapeno mango salsa. Very good. I think my favorite part of the meal though was the calabacitas. Excellent. And these are just the things we tried. It took us 15 minutes to order because we couldn’t choose what we wanted. There is so much on the menu that sounds awesome. But we chose these and then finished with what all Mexican meals should end with: sopapillas. Great meal. Highly recommended to anyone visiting Albuquerque. I can’t recommend going to Guitar Boy guitar store. I walked three miles to get there and it doesn’t exist anymore. So in lieu of going there, I’d advise you to go to Garduno’s instead.
To all of you who are new, you may not know that we do restaurant reviews. But we do. Because I like food. Now there haven’t been any for quite a while because honestly I haven’t been that impressed. But did we eat somewhere great this week. We were playing a show in Tuscumbia, AL, not the center of any known universe, but important to me because it is near Muscle Shoals, AL, birthplace of W.C. Handy and great music town. So our new friends in town took us to George’s which is a local steakhouse. I must confess I’m not the biggest steak fan. I usually choose something else, my personal fave usually being the pork tenderloin. But I do enjoy a good steak once in a while, and I always enjoy a great steak, but those are few and far between. So I was quite surprised to find a home of the great steak right there in the little town of Tuscumbia. I ordered the steak and chicken, thinking I could try a little filet of their specialty while getting something I liked more as well. Well, it turned out that the chicken was good, but the steak was amazing! I don’t even like using exclamation points, but you just have to. The steak was that good. Salad, fine. Veggies, fine. Chicken, fine. But the steak was incredible. Even the appetizer rare beef that you dip in the wasabi was awesome. I know you’re probably not going to jump in your car and drive across the country for a steak. And I wouldn’t advise you to. But if you’re already going through there and you have time, run over to George’s. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re a vegetarian. And then it’s not my fault.