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Tasty Rule Breakin’: Downtown’s newest Indian eatery, Kabob and Grill, opens with a homerun

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Even the lawless hellscape that is criticism has rules. After years at this, I’m here to admit I’ve broken them.

lamb samosa

RICH, TASTY STARTERS: Rosa says lamb samosas do not disappoint at Kabob and Grill. Photo by Christian Podgaysky

I always try to give a new restaurant a little time to get its feet wet and work out kinks to find the best way to put its mark on the local food scene. It’s one of the unwritten rules of restaurant criticism. Due to a scheduling error, I found myself dining with two friends at Kabob and Grill in its first week. If I thought for a moment they needed more time to figure it all out, then this would never have been printed. I’d give them the breathing room to find their footing, like I do every other new restaurant. But, put simply: Kabob and Grill has hit the ground running, and there’s no reason to wait before making a reservation.

I’m by no means an expert in Indian cuisine. I had the good fortune to dine with a couple novices, so I got to feel smarter than I am, really. I ordered lamb samosas and chicken pakora for the table, as we chatted about spice profiles.

Chicken pakora is a lightly fried chicken appetizer and features a small amount of batter and 2-inch cubes of white meat. The chicken tasted light, juicy and tender. It was a big portion—and a big hit with the table.Though just a hair under-seasoned, the rich, oily flavor more than compensated for any lack of spice.

Lamb samosas are ground lamb with chick peas and spices, served inside a fried pastry.  There’s a vibrant flavor to spicy lamb that you just can’t get with beef. The pastry itself blended the robust frying oil with a delicate texture I thoroughly enjoyed.

Lamb vindaloo has long been my favorite Indian dish, but I had to pass on it when one of my guests ordered it. That didn’t keep me from stealing a sample though. The lamb couldn’t have been better prepared. It was tender and succulent, with just the right hint of fat mixed with the lean meat. The tangy sauce hit the right notes of spice. The potatoes might have been a tad undercooked, but that’s just quibbling. I’ll be back soon for a full portion of my own.

My own chicken curry did not disappoint.  I found it deceptively spicy, in that I didn’t feel it was particularly hot as I ate. The beads of sweat that formed on my brow quickly made a liar of my palate. The tender chicken, doused in yellow sauce, was warm and inviting on one of the last chilly evenings of the winter season.

I’d also like to give a shout out to the rice. Fluffier than most servings of basmati I’ve sampled, it blended into a creamy side dish with the curry and made for a delicious, filling meal.

No Indian meal is complete without bread, and poori is my first love. The deep-fried, whole-wheat bread, served in delicious hot circles, makes a hearty addition to an already hearty meal. Kabob and Grill does a nice job of frying poori to a golden brown. I could have lived with a little more of the excess oil draining off before serving, but tearing into that bread and making small shells for morsels of lamb and chicken is my favorite part of the  Indian dining experience.

While poori holds a special place in my heart, I rarely dine at an Indian restaurant without ordering some form of naan. The thin bread, again, is excellent for dipping into the rich sauces. In this case, I couldn’t resist the garlic variety. Many might find the garlic a little heavy-handed, but I can never get enough of the stinking rose. Kabob and Grill’s naan was potent and aromatic. I recommend it highly.

Perhaps the biggest hit of the night was something I didn’t even get to taste. At the end of our meal, as I sat there and wondered if I’d ever be hungry again, the table behind us received an order of tandoori chicken still sizzling on a fajita platter. The signature bright-red color intermingled with blackened char marks that caught my eye. The spicy scent almost convinced me to introduce myself and ask for a taste. If that didn’t work, I considered walking by, grabbing a drumstick and running like hell. I’ve never before written about a dish without tasting it, but in this case, sight and smell were enough to convince me.

Kabob and Grill deserves attention. The food is superb, the staff is both knowledgeable and attentive, and the prices are quite reasonable—particularly considering the portions. I’ve never been happier to break the rules.


Kabob and Grill

5 S Water St.
Lunch: Mon. – Thurs.: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Fri. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dinner: Mon. – Fri.: 5 p.m. – 1o p.m.; Sat. – Sun.: 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
(910) 833-5262

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