365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
Perhaps we should name this the “Is Benji going to fall asleep on the way to the restaurant blog.” Today, the answer was yes, again. Ogre and I chose to go to Akbar Indian Restaurant in Plano so that we could use our recently purchased Entertainment Passbook -afterall, I forgot to use it yesterday and needed to redeem myself. Neither one of us had eaten here before, so it was going to be an adventure.
It is in an older shopping strip area called Ruisseau Village (in the same shopping complex as Bavarian Grill). The outside is very non-descript. The inside is a whole ‘nother story. It is very richly, but not over the top, decorated. Lots of reds and golds and wall decor. The music overhead, the decor and the aroma all contributed to a very appropriate and neat ambiance.
Having not been here before, we both needed to review the menu carefully. I made a quick skim to find there are no kids choices and I’d have to improvise. We decided that the Chef’s Platter would be the way to go so we coud get something for each of the kids. When our waiter came back we ordered our drinks including two Mango Lassis and a Sweet Lassi for Ogre. We also asked the waiter about the Chef’s Platter as it says $3.25 per person. They waiter very confidently told us that there is almost never a reason to order for more than just one person and described everything that came with it, perfect for us.
We had a lot of time to peruse the menu, which meant my indecision on dinner and dessert was starting to build. We did get our Mango Lassis, Ogre had to wait awhile for his Sweet Lassi; I almost concluded that they had forgotten. I wasn’t too disturbed that he had not taken our dinner order as Benji was fast asleep and Mina was busy coloring with the markers and pictures she brought with her. She was very excited to bring her new owl backpack she received from her good friends, Casey and George. She wanted to come to work with me to see Casey, but I explained to her that Casey and I don’t actually work together at the same place at the same time. She knows that I “meet” with Casey a lot though so she told me that she needed to come to my and Casey’s next meeting so she could say thank you. Then she randomly commented that George was like Curious George “except that maybe George isn’t curious.” She quizzically looked at me and shrugged and said “I don’t know.” I just laughed at her and texted Casey the funny story while Ogre made fun of me for being addicted to my Crackberry.
The appetizer finally came and our waiter came to take our order except he didn’t have any paper. About this time, the owner came to ask us if anyone had taken our order yet. We knew that the young waiter had just gone back to get something to write with, so we told her we were fine and taken care of.
I asked the waiter if I should get the Lamb Korma or the Lamb with a tomato herb sauce “with a butter taste.” He said, “Oh, man, you picked my two favorites!” After some careful thought, he suggested the Korma. Sounded great to me. Ogre ordered a spicy Masala Chicken and some Naan.
Ogre started munching on his and cutting up the chicken for Mina. I had a little more difficult juggling Benji and trying to eat. What I did try that Ogre said was not spicy was TOTALLY spicy. I downed half the Mango Lassi with the first piece! Same thing happened with the vegetable pakora, I didn’t even eat any more after one bite!
About this time, Benji started to stir and awoke and said, “Go yeah.” We put him in his chair and gave him the samosa. The samosa was apparently spicy. I wish we had this documented, but Benji basically cried out in pain with a look of horror on his face when he took a bite. I thought he’d be done, but he’d just keep eating more and then would turn red, smack his tongue around a little bit, ask for Mango Lassi and keep on. Mina requested a bathroom break (no changing stations) and when we got back, Ogre told me that Benji had told him it was “goo” (good). Weird-o!
Mina was requiring prodding to finishe her one piece of chicken. I told her that she needed to eat the chicken appropriately (instead of nibbling), consistently (not waiting eons between bites) and with a good attitude or no Fall Festival this weekend. That’s all it took and she ate well the rest of the night. She started eating and dancing.
Mina was also sweet to Benji and let him play with her toy cell phone. It kept him somewhat entertained. Our entrees were taking quite some time to come out and Benji was starting to get irritated. He was yelling, “Sno!” (Snort!) and pointing to the door while whining. I finally told Ogre to go out to the car to get his book. It took Ogre a few minutes to return and the entire time he was gone, I was listening to Benji say “sno” over and over again. Ogre returned with “Are You My Mother?” and Benji promptly opened it up to the pages with the red crane and was happy again.
Soon after, our entrees finally arrived! I served up the rice for Ogre, Benji and I and I even gave Benji some of my lamb, He ate the rice, but not the lamb. I declined Ogre’s repetitive offers for sampling his. I was trying to leave room for my desserts. Ogre joked that I would be ordering three desserts after discussing which items intrigued me.
Ogre, I could see, was near stomach capacity. He raised his arms and folded his hands behind his head which prompted Mina to exclaim, “Ewwww! You need to spray your armpits!” Just for the record, Ogre does use deoderant and he wasn’t malodorous and I don’t know where Mina even came up with that because both Ogre and I use deoderant STICKS! Ogre put his arms down.
Now it was time to order dessert. Our young waiter started to tell us about the desserts, but I told him I’d need a menu to follow along. I asked him what his favorite was and he said the pastry balls. He also said the Kheer was good and suggested the carrot cake. I asked him about the Cream Cheese Patties. He looked as though he was trying to find the right words. He said that he has heard that they make the best rendition of this, but he sucked between his teeth a few times saying that it seems to be an acquired taste and that it’s very “Indian.” This made me laugh because I know exactly what he’s talking about. I could tell he thought we wouldn’t like it, but I ordered it anyway. It was too interesting to pass up!
It took probably another 10-15 minutes for dessert to come out. I tried the pastry balls and the kheer first -excellent. Loved it. Then I tried the Cream Cheese Patties and was struck by how bland and not very good it tasted! Ogre fed some to Benji and he baby barfed. Guess he didn’t like it either and after that he didn’t trust us. Mina tried the pastry balls after we convinced her it was like a doughnut. I don’t think she wanted to admit that she liked it. She proclaimed that she does not like Indian dessert!
Our waiter astutely picked up my Entertainment Card so he could get started on presenting us with the bill. We settled our tab and headed out.
I’m not Indian, nor do I proclaim to be a connasieur of Indian food, so I cannot comment on the authenticity of this dish or that dish or if it’s made like mom makes, so take this with a grain of salt, please.
Mina and I ordered Mango Lassis. For some surprising reason, MIna did not like hers. Compared to other Mango Lassis I’ve had (count two other places), this had the least mango-y flavor, but it was still very good. I actually liked the more mild mango flavor. Ogre ordered the Sweet Lassi and proclaimed that it was “ridiculously good.” I thought it tasted good, too, but not better than my Mango Lassi!
The chef’s sampler for one was well worth the $3.25. Like our waiter said, there was no reason to order more than “for one.” It came with a samosa, several vegetable pakora and a piece of breaded chicken. We ordered this since we planned to get chicken for Mina and a samosa for Benji. This was perfect. We tried all the items off the platter and they were all very tasty. Nothing was soggy or chewy. They were all somewhat spicy.
I ordered the Lamb Korma based on the waiter’s suggestion. I have had Lamb Korma one other place -Chaat Cafe. I think that it is better at Chaat Cafe but that is based on my own personal taste preferences. I don’t know what it is supposed to taste like. It is more creamy and sweet at Chaat Cafe. Here it was a little more “earthy.” The lamb was very tender -comparable to Chaat. This came with Basmati rice, which was quite good.
Ogre ordered the Masala of some sort that had a spicy-tomato based sauce with Chicken. He said that it was not anywhere to close to being as spicy as they proclaimed it was, but the flavor was very good.
From the time we were perusing the menu, I was interested in several desserts. I think Ogre thought I was joking when I told him I’d be ordering three desserts. The kheer and the little pastry ball things were very very good. The cream cheese patties, not so much. The sauce that the cream cheese patties were sitting was good -reminded me of a not so thick and sweet condensed milk, but those cream cheese patties tasted nothing like cream cheese and had a gritty chewy texture. Blech!
I’ll admit it. I loved our waiter -he had character. He was obviously in high school and was genuinely kind and easy-going. He is Indian and I trusted his opinions completely! His honesty was very refreshing and we should have taken his advice on the “Cream Cheese Patties.”
To be fair, though, he didn’t really keep our table uncluttered very well (perhaps that is something you learn with experience) and, overall, I thought the lag time between courses was too long. I also noticed he was the only waiter in the joint, which might have added to some of the time delays. I still found him to be very charming. He checked on us frequently, and engaged in conversation with genuine interest. In addition, the woman who I think is one of the owners checked on us frequently, although I think she suspected we were “critics” of some sort since she saw us taking pictures of the food. Her attentiveness ramped up after that.
Well, it’s another not so kid friendly restaurant today. No kids menu, no kids activities and the time between courses was a little to lengthy. Mina thankfully brought her own activities and let Benji play with her “cell phone.” But it was still difficult to keep them in their chairs, to keep them quiet and to keep Benji happy…
If you’re really into Indian food and you live in Plano, then this is a pretty good choice. I would say it’s average to above average, but it’s not very kid friendly. I wouldn’t risk it with kids. I’d rather take ‘em to Chaat Cafe.
I’m giving it two stars not because it’s a bad restaurant, I’d say the food is 3 stars, but the service and kid-friendliness are 2 stars. So, overall, I’m giving it 2 stars. Without the kids, it’s 3 stars.
The total: 34.00 (with buy one, get one free)
I used to get so annoyed with Ogre when he would talk on the phone during dinner. After all, dinner is sacred time for our family. We believe that is very important that we eat together, but why bother if you’re not even going to talk to each other?! Then, I became an on-call hospitalist, which means that for days on end, I am on call at anytime for nursing questions and admissions. I’m also heavily involved in the administrative aspects of my group or on back up, so I have my phone on me for those reasons even when it’s my day off. So, the tables have turned and I’m the person who has the phone sitting on the table and am often obligated to answer during dinner. I think it’s a fair trade off for not having to be comppletely gone from my family, but it does make it seem like I’m addicted to the Crackberry! It’s a love/hate relationship, for sure!
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!