Denver Restaurants: India’s Pearl

India’s Pearl has been a rumor in my ear for some time now, but it wasn’t until last Saturday India's Pearl exterior 2008that I actually sat down in the restaurant and had a proper meal. I’m not yet willing to award it the title of best Indian restaurant in the Denver Metro area. Possibly because of nostalgia, I’d still give that title to Royal Peacock in Boulder.

The restaurant itself is beautiful inside; India's Pearl entrance Dec 2009we sat in the main room, facing the wine display. There’s a bar upstairs where they have karaoke on Wednesdays. It’s more laid-back upstairs, though I wouldn’t call the main floor formal, just elegant.

The obligatory pappadums came with tamarind, mint, and onion chutney nicely arranged on a glass tray. Sometimes I wish servers would ask me if I wanted it; I suppose that’s like complaining about chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. Our appetizer, the vegetable lettuce wrap, wasn’t bad for comfort food. India's Pearl veggie lettuce wraps Dec 2009The peas, onions, potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers spiced with cardamom were hot and slightly firm but not at all spicy, as we’d asked.

India’s Pearl has one of the most intriguing menus I’ve ever seen at an Indian restaurant, including beef, scallops, lobster, duck, and quail along with plenty of chicken and vegetable entrees. So far I’ve tried only 3 dishes: a chicken korma that was darker, heavier, and less sweet than any other I’ve had; the chicken saag I ordered; and Todd’s Tandoori beef. India's Pearl Tandoori steak with lemon potatoes Dec 2009It was a novel sensation for me, tasting Tandoori spices on a relatively tender steak, and I would recommend it for that reason alone. But it was also very good, although the “lemon potatoes” should have been called “rosemary potatoes.” Todd thought my saag was heartier than most, and the blend of garlic, onion, and turmeric still tasted as good the next day.India's Pearl chicken saag Dec 2009

The naan, one of my favorite breads in the world, had been left sitting too long.

And that’s how it went at India’s Pearl: simple things were not executed as well as they should have been, but the more complex dishes really shone. I wish I lived closer to Denver’s  South Pearl neighborhood and had an excuse to try India’s Pearl more often. But with two Indian restaurants much closer to home, and another two—my favorites—in Boulder, India’s Pearl has a lot of competition.
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