Banana Leaf

Kregg and Daniele had just returned to Sarasota when we had dinner at Curry Station. They were on their way to buying a place, and I was on my way to Singapore…in my mind. This place reminded me of nothing but Little India, or the Banana Leaf restaurant. Gosh. Wouldn’t it be nice to be there right now.

Still, we have a winner in the Sarasotan food stakes.

 

Outside of India, there are two types of Indian restaurant: those that sell an Indian-like food experience, as translated (in this country) for Americans, and those that serve Indian food. In contrast to much of its competition, Curry Station is about the food, making that the center of our experience. Bravo.

An important point is worthy of airing here. The term “Indian food” has the same level of descriptive accuracy as “European food”. Ingredients, preparation and cooking style vary enormously from Kerala to Kashmir. Lumping them all together is convenient shorthand, but short-changes many Sub-Continental subtleties. One day we westerners will untangle this agglomeration and be all the more delighted by the different regional flavors.

Given that we are oceans away from the land of Bollywood and bhuna, we accept what’s available. Fortunately, Curry Station successfully negotiates the fine line between authenticity and familiarity. Opening a new business like this in a slightly dodgy strip mall on the wrong side of town is a gutsy move, but the adversity seems to make the food taste even better.

Very good: restrained use of spice and unusual ingredients (for drowsy American palates), appropriate portion size, excellent naan, fresh ingredients, Taj beer, frosted glasses, gracious and homely service and – surprisingly – cloth napkins.

Slightly bum note: lamb saag contained more bones than I’d like. But that won’t stop me ordering it again.

CS is worthy of four stars, but because I want Narendra and his family to succeed mightily, I rounded up to five. If that encourages even one person to ditch Applebees for just one meal here, it’ll be a triumph for us both.

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