Todd and I arrived at India House in downtown Denver after a Saturday afternoon of missed connections.
He hadn’t meant to come all the way to downtown Denver; in fact, he had been in Boulder and generously decided to drive to the Merchandise Mart to pick me up from Earthworks Expo. But by the time we talked on the phone, I was already on the 7, heading southeast to downtown Denver. (I could have taken a bus north from the Merchandise Mart to Broomfield, but then I would have been stranded several miles from home because of reduced service on the weekends.)
So he drove a little farther to meet me, and we headed to the mini–restaurant row on Blake between 16th and 15th Streets. We had our pick of Caribbean, Mexican, Moroccan, BBQ, a sports bar…that’s all I can remember. But I chose the Indian restaurant. When Todd saw that the prices on the menu outside were 50 percent higher than at other Indian restaurants we frequent, he announced, “It had better be fuckin’ good.”
Saturday was the day the cellulitis on his leg really started bothering him, which did not improve his mood.
India House is elegant inside, dark and cool. It’s a long, narrow restaurant with an upstairs that overlooks the entrance. That area would be a great place to reserve for a private party, except that the bathrooms and the bar are upstairs too, so one group could never have it entirely to themselves.
The service was unhurried, but we waited too long only at the beginning of our meal. After that, everything arrived when it should. They brought us pappadum with two house-made chutneys.The tamarind was so red I didn’t recognize it; usually it’s brown. The mint-jalapeno chutney was refreshing, and both chutneys were spicy. Not what I expected, considering how the website mentions the chef’s “low threshold for chili.”
Next came Todd’s mulligatawny soup. There was a lot to like: the thin broth was lemony, with just a little diced chicken. But it was too salty.
I wish I had turned over the cauliflower pakora before I took this picture; the pattern created by slicing it in half was beautiful. They were best hot, just come from the kitchen, but they were still decent well into the meal.
The chicken tikki saag was rich and flavorful—again, except for the salt. Whatever happened to the “subtlety of delicate spicing” mentioned on the website? The heat was right—I asked for medium, and I got it, which is somewhat rare at Indian restaurants—but only the pakoras were subtly spiced.
Todd and I were a little disappointed by this meal, but at least he wasn’t hungry anymore, and his leg wasn’t bothering him—that is, until he stood up and had to walk on it. We didn’t know it then, but there were antibiotics in his future.
*I didn’t realize that India House used to be Delhi Darbar. I had been to their restaurant in Boulder a couple of times but was never completely blown away. Perhaps the Denver location is now the only one left.