April 11, 2013
Turns out, if you wish upon a star, incredible Indian dining will return to Clinton after all.
Ever since Indian Café, the smaller, Village of Clinton version of New Hartford’s Minar closed, there have been uncertainties about the new restaurant to take its place. Is it a renovated Indian Cafe? A new Indian restaurant? Would they serve the same saag paneer?
My friend, Danielle (Dani) Feigin ’14 and I ventured to Star of India where our waiter, Mangesh, helped us set the story straight. The three restaurants are in fact separate and each run by different owners. The owners, however, are all related.
I find it hard to imagine that there is no internal business overlap or cooperation, unless of course this is a quarrelsome family battling by means of competitive Indian restaurants. If so, it seems Indian Café has lost to relative Star of India owner in the competition for the coveted College Street location.
In most of my past restaurant reviews, I have commented on the less-than-attentive service and staff. Perhaps it was the 5 p.m. great-grandparent meal time coupled with the fact that we were their only patrons, but Mangesh could not have been more on top of his game. Dani gave him a five-star review and made sure to inform him of the stellar rating.
I would say he was perhaps a bit too persistent filling our water, almost to the point of helicoptering around our meal. Sometimes, it felt like my time to catch up with Dani was compromised by the omnipresence of an uninvited, pseudo-dinner guest. In another respect, though, it felt like we were privately catered a small Indian feast!
In the place of bread we were served papadum, lentil bread, with a side of tamarind and mint sauces. Dani inquired about the cracker-like product which we likened to matzoh, as it is unleavened bread. This, however, tasted much better, actually containing some flavor and spice. (And in matzoh’s defense, however, I don’t think a chocolate-covered papadum would work so well!)
We were then brought a complementary dish of vegetable fritters, to which the mint sauce was also a wonderful compliment. I cannot say for sure if this unexpected gesture is a customary act at Star of India, or if we received it in response to my mentioning I was writing a review. Don’t go into the restaurant expecting free fried food!
I was interested in trying the sesame seed naan, but Mangesh recommended the garlic kind. Dani and I figured, you can’t go wrong with leavened bread, and the garlic naan turned out splendid.
For our main dishes, Dani ordered the classic (American) favorite, chicken tikka masala served with Jasmine rice, and I had the vegetable biryani. We recommend both!
On a budget? Star of India has great lunch and dinner buffet prices, and portions are generous enough to have leftovers. We give Star of India four thumbs up—all the thumbs we have! The authentic Indian music casually playing from their single, old-school speaker will have you grooving in your seat as you peruse the menu, and even while you indulge in the delicious feast. If you have a low tolerance for spicy food, do not let your sensitive palate hinder an exploration of Star of India’s cuisine, as dishes can be tailored to your spice preference. This is a place that has everyone’s best wishes in mind.