During the recent CEDIA Expo that was held in Denver, I had a couple of busy days in a row. We had a dealer event on a Thursday night and after a long day of talking with dealers on Friday we were supposed to go out to dinner with the people from Focal to a sushi restaurant. I was beat. I was tired of talking. I didn't want to go out and do anymore talking. And as much as I like sushi, YOU KNOW that I had to be beat to not want to go eat sushi. After everyone left to go to dinner, I sat in our suite that we had at the Marriott City Center and enjoyed a couple three beers in peace and quiet. Finally, around 8:15, I decided that I needed to get something to eat. I thought about getting something simple from room service, but decided to try and find something close by. I used the "Around Me" application on my smartphone and found an Indian restaurant - Little India - not far from the hotel. I set off into a cool damp night to go to Little India.
Little India is a family-owned local restaurant chain with four locations around the greater Denver area. There is also a Little India food truck that pops up around the city from time to time. The first Little India opened on S. Downing Street in Denver in 1998 and has regularly been voted "Best Indian Food" in Denver. The chefs employed by the Baldwin family all got their start at restaurants in Northern India before coming to the U.S. and eventually to Denver.
From my hotel, it was basically a two block walk down 17th St. to Champa St. and a block and a half walk down to Little India. (see map) It's just a half block off the touristy 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. When I got into the place around 8:30, it appeared that I had the place all to myself. However, I spied another man eating alone in the dining room, and another man came in by himself about five minutes after I got in there. It was quiet - just what I wanted.
The interior of Little India had a contemporary look to the place. Subtle lighting made it warm and inviting. A large and colorful mural greeted diners as they walked in from the outside.
My server for the evening, Rekha, came over with a menu and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I asked if they had Kingfisher beer and she began to rattle off a list of beers that they had in addition to Kingfisher. I stopped her and said, "I'll just take a Kingfisher."
The menu at Little India had the full gamut of Indian food - vindaloo, saagwala, tandoori, buryani, masala, etc. - with your choice of seafood, lamb or chicken to go along with the dishes. Little India also has a number of vegetarian dishes on their menu, as well as specialty entrees such as chicken or lamb madras - a very spicy dish for those fans of Indian food who like to have their faces burned off while they eat.
I ended up ordering the lamb saagwala - medium-hot - with some garlic naan. After Rekha took my order another server came out with the crisp flatbread that I finally found out what it is called - papadum. I call it "Indian Chips" like you'd get with chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. It came with the mint chutney that I like so much - when it's done right - and a slightly hotter tamarind chutney for dipping. The mint chutney was very good and the tamarind chutney had a nice kick.
The lamb saagwala showed up, served in a little serving bowl with rice on the side. I combined the two on my plate and dug in. The lamb saagwala had a wonderful flavor to it. It had a hint of a spicy taste, but it wasn't overwhelming to me. The lamb was tender and easy to cut and chew. It was the ultimate in comfort food for me on a cool, drizzly night in Denver.
The garlic naan didn't disappoint, either. It was a misshapen flat bread cut in half and had a wonderful flavor to it. The garlic was more of an afterthought in the taste of the naan. The bread was light and fluffy, and when I dipped it in the saagwala sauce it was a wonderful taste combination.
About the only thing that went wrong with the meal was that Rekha disappeared. The spicy nature of the lamb saagwala made me drain both my beer and most of the water in my glass. I wanted another beer, but she was nowhere in sight. There was another young lady who was cleaning up in my area and I asked her if I could get another beer. She cheerfully said, "Yes!", and left to presumably get me my beer from the bar. But it was Rekha who brought it back out to me. She asked me how my meal was. I had to tell her that it was excellent.
And it was excellent. I liked everything about Little India. The food was a spot-hitter in terms of comfort food for me. The service was a tad spotty, but it didn't detract from the overall experience. The restaurant, itself, was very comfortable and - as I needed - very quiet. Even though it was a Friday night, I relished my solitude, not having to carry on a conversation or hear multitudes of voices talking in unison until it turned into a sea of white noise. Little India was my oasis of good comfort food in a quiet setting that evening.