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Heritage India Brasserie


DonRocks
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I had dinner at the bar at the Heritage India Brasserie last night (Dupont Circle), and came away so unimpressed that I refuse to make this its own thread: it can’t be this bad, and I don’t want to condemn a restaurant by bringing excessive attention to one poorly executed meal on a Monday night while they’re still trying to work out the kinks.

[June 11th Edit: now that Tom's review is out, I went ahead and merged this in with the new thread. Also, this place is so different from the Glover Park Heritage India that it merits its own topic.]

The large menu has one page listed as traditional, and the other page listed as contemporary. The top part of the contemporary page is dedicated to street food, and that is where I struck out four times.

The golgappas is a plate with four bite-sized puffed crackers, hollowed out at the top and stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas, each served with its own spoon, and meant to be eaten in a single bite. They could have been quite good, but they filled up the little holes with too much yogurt, and then slathered tamarind and coriander chutney all over the place, rendering them way oversauced. This was neutralized somewhat by the fine little tureen of acidic, spiced broth to dip them in (I’m going from memory here, and I cannot remember the chutney used as the base for that broth).

The golgappas were really okay, but then came the papri chaat which was virtually the same thing as the golgappas in deconstructed format: a plate with broken small wedges of puffed cracker, with a tiny bit of potatoes and chickpeas in the middle, and drenched in yogurt and tamarind and coriander chutneys. Do not make the mistake of ordering one of these after the other, because you’re basically getting the same dish twice in a row, and you’ll get sick of it very quickly.

On to the bel puri, a papadam-like wafer formed into the shape of a bowl, and filled with vermicelli, diced vegetables, peanuts, peppers, etc. This was a welcome relief to the oversaucing of the first two dishes since it was primarily acidic and sour, but nothing here was special, or even that good. About halfway through the dish, when the hot green peppers began to dominate the dish, I was thinking to myself that the filling could have been assembled from the fixins bar at Fuddruckers.

At this point in the meal I was quite disappointed, since I had high expectations coming in, and so I decided to try one more dish, the fish amritsari. This is cubes of rockfish, dipped in spices and fried, and served with a little bowl of dipping sauce. What’s not to like, right? Well, they weren’t very good. Despite having actual fish inside, the texture came off more as formed-and-molded, and there was nothing about the spicing or sauce that made the dish any better.

The bottom half of the contemporary menu lists some seriously condescending items, one section devoted to the Spice Road, talking about how other cultures brought their own influence to India, etc. This is a fancy way of offering very non-Indian food. And then there are even more embarrassing items down towards the bottom of the page, something called a Mango Tango, a couple of other things with even sillier sounding names and descriptions.

I'm not drawing any conclusions from an initial visit, having tried such a small sample of the menu, but I'm not yearning to go back this week, either.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yeah, I've been a few times so far, and the food is quite excellent, especially the saag paneer and the raita - better than the other places I've tried so far in the area (Indique, Bombay Club).

The service is completely bizarre, however. For one, I've had to wait about 15 minutes at odd times - once at the front of the restaurant, where the hostess had absented herself, and once after being seated, before receiving water or any attention from a waiter.

For another, the waiters are some of the most socially awkward people I've encountered in the service industry: "Oh, I'm Frank [or some similar name], by the way," says one waiter awkwardly after taking our order, pausing periodically to stare creepily at me and my girlfriend. Two different waiters keep serving us, asking if someone else has taken our orders for various courses, and openly yelling at each other and the other staff when the food is slow coming out of the kitchen.

The whole thing is just way too David Lynch. The food IS great though.

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  • 2 months later...

Went here last night with some friends. Alot of the 'modern' section of the menu just doesn't look appetizing to me (especially the pastas). We had some bhel puri from the street food section, which was so-so and doesn't bode well for the rest of that part of the menu (as Don's comments bear out). However, the traditional dishes we had were just as good as the Glover Park Heritage, and in some cases I thought they were even better. There's one aspect of service here (and at the GP Heritage) that I find irritating: casually pushing things that are a supplemental charge in a tone that implies they are included.

Chris Sadler

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Since my June 11 posting, I should add we've returned for lunch 3-4 times and service has much improved. Food is consistently good and on one occaison, the waiter suggested a non-published substitution (chicken korma for the butter chicken) on the lunch special menu since he noticed I often ordered the butter chicken.

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Since my June 11 posting, I should add we've returned for lunch 3-4 times and service has much improved.  Food is consistently good and on one occaison, the waiter suggested a non-published substitution (chicken korma for the butter chicken) on the lunch special menu since he noticed I often ordered the butter chicken.

Would it be outrageous or offensive if I asked for the chicken makhani to be served a little milder? I had a late meal there last Thursday and thought the butter sauce was heaven on earth, but the spice nearly did me in. I've been at plenty of places who ask your preference on spice level, but I'd like to stay on these peoples' good side.

(btw, it was 9 pm on a thursday, dining room was not even 2/3 full, and the staff was very inattentive. The water wasn't even refilled until we were nearly finished with our meals.)

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  • 4 months later...

Not sure what their dinner crowd is like, but Heritage India (Dupont) must be making a killing with the club kids...easily 100 people in line waiting to get in Saturday night...

After sampling their happy hour menu (half price "Indian" tapas/half price drinks), most of the food on the tapas menu is well done, however things get a little one dimensional in the flavor category, lots of dishes come sauced with a yogurt and tamarind sauce, the sauce is good, but dish after dish after dish...well you get the picture...the calamari tapas dish is definitely on the must try list.

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I had a late dinner in the restaurant one night as the club crowd was starting to move in. They didn't rush us out, but it was a strange scene as they transitioned from dinner to dancing. I was happy with the quality of the food.

And, I'm very happy that they've started deliverying!

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