Ah, Indian food, the wonder that makes our hearts beat a little faster. This Main Street jewel keeps the competition for the best Sub-Continental food alive.
Put yourself in the place of the new restaurant owner. Before you open the doors, an enormous thicket of regulatory and financial palmetto must be negotiated; there are leases to be signed, checks cut, fit-out…fitted. Then, after all the pain of gestation and birth, you stand proudly at the front of house and await the hungry.
I wonder sometimes how these folks do it. How to maintain a six-days-a-week show of welcome, keep the kitchen sending out quality food and maintain your enthusiasm for it all?
Well, maybe that enthusiasm will slip a little, especially on a Sunday night in Sarasota. You look at your dining room and note that you have a total of four patrons. Why, you wonder, are hungry hordes not lining up to eat your food; why are you not over-run with appreciative, adventurous Sarasotans and S-Birders?
Which might explain the slightly dour reception I received at the Palace. Not unfriendly, mind you, just serious, with a whiff of exasperation. Did our host let slip his fear that here was another group of timid, flavor-fearful Americans? *Please, no more of these curry wannabes*
And then something changed. One of our party ordered Indian beer. I had lassi. Every one of our dishes we wanted genuinely hot, spice-wise. Our choices weren’t mainstream. Somewhere in there the entire mood changed; I think we made their night.
The Palace made ours, too. A case can be made that a community milestone exists – in a culinary sense – when a quality, competitive Indian restaurant battle is joined. That time appears to be now.