New Haven Restaurant Week brought me the opportunity to venture far afield to Thali, the carnivorous brother of Thali Too. A longtime fan of Indian cuisine, I fought the icy winds to hoping for delicious tongue-burning food. Upon reaching the corner of George and Orange and entering the mostly-empty venue, my dining companion and I settled down with a copy of their restaurant week menu and began plotting how to best divide and conquer.
We started with mango lassis — just the right hint of mango to satisfy my hankering for the tropics. As for appetizers, we sampled their kheema potli (lamb and peas in a puff pastry) and jhinga manchurian (shrimp in cilantro-garlic sauce). The shrimp was delicious; the lamb — suffering from an unwieldy and tough pastry shell — was standard at most.
Entrée choices included chicken tikka masala and “market fish” (read: salmon on rice, sauceless due to my allergy to nuts — poor choice). I should say from the start that it’s not possible for me to dislike chicken tikka masala in any form, but my friend liked it too, and we both agreed that it definitely beat the fish. Fair enough, I’d say.
For dessert, we ordered the only two options, pumpkin halwa and chenna rabdi, both traditional Indian iterations of rice pudding (in theory). The halwa was tasty, reminiscent of a sweet potato pie with ice cream, while the rabdi was basically cold balls of tofu. It didn’t have much flavor and didn’t compensate by looking all that good, so my vote definitely went towards the pumpkin.
Overall, this was well-executed Indian food, which is a boring way to describe and overall blah experience. The service, however, was great — they cheerfully accommodated our request for no nuts and were attentive and courteous. Granted, that might’ve noticed the hot pink Post-it I was taking notes on, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
So if you’re willing to make the trip and endure what might be the strangest restaurant playlist I’ve ever heard (tribal beats crossed with psychedelic noise music, anyone?), I’d encourage you to check out Thali.