Friday, June 1, 2012

Amaya Bar and Grill

Tonight, it was just three of us; my son was at a friend's house.  So, we decided on Indian.  I remembered a review a while back of Amaya Bar and Grill, and off we went.

My daughter and I arrived first.  Amaya is in a Tops anchored strip mall, which I'll is not a promising sign.  If you're not from ROC, Topp's is our Winn-Dixie.  Enough said.  So, it was a delightful surprise to walk into a sophisticated restaurant with a design reminiscent of West Elm.  We ordered sodas and two appetizers straight off: garlic naan (bread of life!!) and sesame tandoori wings.  It was clear from a look at the restaurant and the menu that Amaya was more an Indian fusion restaurant, but as more folks filtered in, it was clear we may be onto something.

My husband arrived a bit later, just as the wings and naan hit the table.  We ordered:  soup of the day (curried butternut squash), hyderabadi baingan (eggplant in poppyseed sauce) for him; chicken tikka paprikash for me; chicken makhani for her; raita and more naan!

The soup seemed thin but was very tasty.  He thickened it up with some of the delicious rice that accompanied our meals:  yellow, perfectly cooked and aromatic.  The dinners were served in off-center white bowls surrounded by plates of this rice (which was refilled liberally upon request, as was the raita).

My husband and I shared our dishes.  The eggplant was cooked with some unadvertised chiles, which added a deep heat to the rich, brown, rustic sauce.  It gained an earthy hue from the poppyseeds and the roasted baby eggplants, which had turned almost nutty in flavor.  So good!  The paprikash sauce was bright and tomato-y with a similar deep heat but one balanced by a wonderful acidity from the tomatoes and a layered taste from the roasted peppers.  The sauce was thin, like a soup, which made it easy to finish the chicken and then pour more rice into the bowl to eat the soup/sauce.  I topped it all with the cool raita, which had a hint of anise and chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers.

My daughter's makhani was aromatic, sweet and rich.  She loved it and the rice (this is a girl who could live on yellow rice, whether Indian or Goya).  She left just the sauce and one piece of chicken for us to try.  Her sauce became another rice-filled soup!  Pure comfort in a bowl.

Somehow, without planning, we had selected three dishes that perfectly balanced the table: deep and nutty, bright and acidic, aromatic and creamy.

We tried the chocolate samosas for dessert; they sounded better than they tasted.  Not bad, just nothing special.

Amaya's portions are not huge; we finished each dish and brought home only rice (which holds it own!).  Our service was wonderful--friendly, responsive, not intrusive.  Refills appeared without request and a lovely brown glass bottle of cold water materialized just when we needed it.  I'd recommend Amaya as an alternative to the standard Indian--sophisticated and delicious without losing any of the classic taste profile.  Yum!

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