11 August 2013

Minneapolis: Darbar India Grill

Another fantastic Indian restaurant.  OH DARN.

Darbar India Grill
1221 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 822-3300

I ordered for Matt and I while he was off washing his hands/saving the world.  My wonderful Captain Adventure!  He's such a sanitary hero, and he is so, so dear.  I rattled off the 2 curries and 3 breads we desired with spice levels and the typical no-dairy-I'm-vegan disclaimer.  Our server poked fun at the fact that I had memorized this whole order.  I responded with something cool, like, "I have a photographic memory," or, "ARE there other items on your menu?  I hadn't noticed," or probably more likely, "We get this allll the time," along with a disarming display of my enormous teeth.

The Roti - $1.99 - is vegan if you get it without butter on top.  To extra-protect it, they had this sweet idea of throwing my bread into its own basket, separate from the dairy-infested naan.  Isn't that nice?

I will do battle whole-wheatedly with the detritus of your intestines.

Good and healthy.  Just what I wanted.  The subtle whole wheat taste didn't at all interfere with the positive flavors of the curries.

Matt and I shared Bangan Bhartha on the left - $11.95 - and Chana Masala on the right - $10.95.  Aw yis.

Prepare for trouble.  Make it double.  Said only the specialest snowflakes of former Pokemon fans.

The Chana Masala had that completely amazing authentic Indian flavor that I strive so fruitlessly to achieve in my own kitchen.  After my first bite it became clear that Darbar is one of the great Indian restaurants of the Twin Cities.  The medium spice level we ordered came through perfectly - it was hot enough to demand several sips of water throughout the meal, but not so hot that it burned our taste buds off.

The elusive roasted eggplant makes an appearance at the surface with the aid of our impermeable metal net.

The Bangan Bhartha had the same totally authentic flavor wave happening.  Plus the eggplant melted in our mouths.  MMM.  The curry was a little smoky, perfectly spiced, and completely addicting.

Like any ideal meal, this one included hearty Shatner-bashing.  Did you know Mom was at the Conan O'Brien show in the 90s when George Takei was on it, and that was her first ever introduction to the world of Shatner-bashing?  I... I have just learned so much from Mom.  It's because of her I became the person I am today.  And it's because of unknown forces that Shatner has become the person he is today, but I suspect ham had something to do with it.

Minneapolis: The Harriet Brasserie

The restaurants of Linden Hills are fancy places for fancy people.  Or, fancy places for people like AJ and me who are willing to pretend to be fancy for a short period of time as long as we are served a Nutella Mocha and Crawfish Grits (AJ) and/or a vegan meal (me).

I am 95% sure they don't get their food animals from Wild Rumpus next door.

We didn't call it the Harriet Brassiere once while we were there.

The Harriet Brasserie
2724 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 354-2197

Exotic animal dishes abound at The Harriet Brasserie.  Pheasant, duck, bison, octopus and more all roam freely across the menu.  I'm sure the animals were free-range, well-fed, and produced organically.  Whatever.  But the nice thing is that there's this one vegan option: Tofu Hash for $10.  It's cleverly made available for brunch and dinner.

This wild tofu grew up among the bison and pheasant, then was humanely slaughtered for your enjoyment.
 You know how watercress can be "spicy"?  This is a phenomenon I thought I had understood.  The stuff on that plate kicked my butt.  It made my throat close up, the flavor was so intense!  That was one of the first bites, before I realized I needed to incorporate bites of the strong, lemon-vinaigretted greens into my consumption of the tofu mixture in order to avoid overstimulated taste buds.

The fried tofu was accompanied by yucca, red bell pepper, shishito peppers, and fermented black beans.  The flavor combination was spicy, tangy, and lovely, and the textures - especially with watercress thrown into the mix - provided a fantastic variety.  The tofu tasted slightly bitter, but overall I confess myself impressed by the preparation of such a complex vegan dish at such a fancy meat-oriented brassiere.  I mean, brasserie.

Come here with a non-vegan and watch them drink a Nutella Mocha.  Then kindly offer to smell their mug for them.  This, I feel, is a major selling point.  Matt's gonna be all up ons.