July 27, 2012

Sitar Indian Cuisine

For an inexpensive around-the-corner Indian restaurant, Sitar is a nice find. Some say that the food reminds them of Indian take-out in England, others say that the flavors of the dishes all run together, and others full heartedly recommend the restaurant as the best Indian food in Nashville. After all, beginning in 2001, for 8 consecutive years, Sitar was recognized as the Best Indian Restaurant in the Reader;s Poll, “Best of Nashville.” I have eaten at Sitar twice, both time for dinner, and find that their food is good, especially for their price and close location to Vanderbilt.

Menu: For those diners who know very little about Indian cuisine, Sitar’s menu may be very overwhelming! While each section is labeled, there are 12 different food sections in the menu. It reminds me of a small book. For first-time diners, deciding what to eat may be a bit challenging. My advice is to pick out your main ingredient: lamb, chicken, fish, or vegetables. Then, choose whether you prefer a creamy/cheesy base, curry, or the tandoori/roasted style. These decisions will narrow down the menu significantly.

The portion sizes are generous, which makes sharing very feasible. I have tried the chicken curry, lamb vindaloo, and chicken makhani. Personally, I disagree with the critics who claim that all of the flavors blend together into a bland mishmash. The chicken curry tasted like curry. The lamb vindaloo was tangy, as described, and the chicken makhani hinted the flavors of exotic spices. Add some rice or garlic naan, and you’ve got a pretty authentic dinner in front of you.

Service: The first time I ate at Sitar I was with a group of 14 other people.  Few of us had ever eaten Indian food and a large handful were also picky eaters. The staff at Sitar were overly understanding with this matter and gave spice-level recommendations for many of us.

I am sure that they were laughing about the incorrect pronunciations of dishes and general ignorance when it comes to Indian food. On many occasions at “foreign” restaurants, this one included, someone orders a dish having no idea what will be placed in front of them. The waiter comes with the food and repeats: lamb biryani, lamb biryani, lamb biryani, without any recognition. It is a humorous affair when the diner finally says, “Oh yea, I think I ordered that…” This happened a few times with our group of 14, but everything worked out in the end and we were all satisfied and happy with our meals.

General Impressions: I live five minutes from Sitar; so, it is a quick-fix for my Indian-craving taste buds, or when I am in the mood for take-out. They may have a better following if they condense their menu down to fifteen specialty dishes and changed it periodically. Sitar’s food isn’t the best Indian food I’ve tasted, especially since I have traveled to India, but it is good and I’ll continue to eat there until I find a better alternative.

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