The Scene Ladies who lunch, foodies and wine connoisseurs taking advantage of the BYOB policy with no corkage fee are drawn out west for the highly regarded Indian cuisine and gracious service. At dinner, soft lights, soothing Indian artwork and private linen-dressed tables create an atmosphere conducive to lingering. The Food India is known for its collection of regional spices, several of them aromatic that add layers of flavor to the food being prepared. It’s no longer a secret that each dish tastes great if spices are ground in small batches as Nirvana chef devotedly does each day. Chef Nadeem Rahmat, a native of Hyderabad takes great care in the selection and purchasing of fresh whole spices. Spices are taken in small batches, ground individually and slow roasted in a cast iron skillet over an open flame. The roasting releases the oils and essences of each spice. Spices are then ground from a coarse to a fine texture as needed to blend in with the meats, poultry and seafood dishes being cooked. Three new and unique dishes are the Goat Bukhara – succulent chunks of goat meat immersed in rich brown gravy with apricots. The Moghlai chicken reminiscent of the Moghul empire featuring moderately a spicy gravy made with cashews, almonds ground into a rich, thick paste, then seasoned with fried onions, yogurt and kewra water essence, based in a rich tomato and cream sauce. Lastly, the Chicken Madras – chicken pieces flavored in Madras curry powder, coconut milk, flavored with fried curry leaves and mustard. Always fresh, the Monday lunch and dinner buffet features 16 varietal dishes accompanied by a mini salad bar and a dessert bar. The restaurant’s manager, Monsur Alam, monitors the buffet line constantly keeping it restocked, and often informing diners that the Chicken Tikka Masala on the way or fresh Naan will be coming to their table. The buffet offers diners mild to medium spicy dishes. The a la carte menu can be customized to suit each diner’s taste from moderate to very spicy. Buffet dishes are new each day. The buffet features some classical Indian dishes – Tandoori chicken, Shrimp Jalfrezi, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Vindaloo, Mutton Rogan Josh, Aloo Bhajia, (potato vegetable), Chana Masala, (Chickpeas in spicy gravy), Khadi – dumplings in yogurt sauce, Sag Paneer (spinach with cottage cheese cubes), and Vegetable Pulao. Nirvana also features an array of excellent grilled thoroughfare – Fish tikka (flavored fish pieces), Gosht boti kabab, Murgh Malai (skewered cubes of chicken cooked in a tandoor oven, featured in a creamy sauce), and Sarson ki chaamp (lamb pieces with mustard leaves). Nirvana offers an excellent variety of vegetarian dishes as my wife can attest. We appreciate the service which is consistently excellent and always attentive. The nan bread is always brought to the table fresh instead of being allowed to become soggy on the steam table. On Friday nights Nirvana features live music – the solo sitar by Aaron Hermes, an artist who has classical training from India, sometimes accompanied by a flutist or tabla player. The evening ambiance at Nirvana is perfect for casual dining in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant is decorated with modern, flowing lines and rich, sensual colors. The restaurant offers a large friendly patio offering diners a place to relax and enjoy an outdoor table during those rare times when Houston experiences a pleasantly cool evening.
I'm a big fan of Abhiruchi (I go there at least once a week) and will explain why I think this is one of the best Indian places in Houston. I work for and Indian company and spend approx. 4 weeks a year in India (Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad). I get a lot of homemade food their (my buddied always invite me to their home and I can't say no) and I believe I know what good Indian food is. Now to the review. My GF introduced me to Abhiruchi and we went a few times for their buffet. The buffet is ok, but when I sit down and take the menu and the whole world changes. I cannot comment on the appetizers, because I never order them at Indian restaurants (too much food when the entree comes). I have tried almost all the chicken dishes and most of the seafood dishes and I have never been disappointed. If you like spicy start with the medium (if you have an american palate this will be pretty spicy) and work your way up the next visit.
Excellent food, with high quality ingredients, but the service is spotty. With untrained waiters that stare at customers and hold dishes with their fingers in the food... Be very careful with the Bill. It never adds up. You should keep track of what you order and calculate the bill before paying... It's always off, and once it was off by $30 dollars for a take out... Fortunately I had calculated the bill with Houston sales tax. I would gladly go somewhere else if the food was as good, but he does have great food. He should raise prices hire a trained staff and position himself as a high end restaurant instead of resorting to stupid tricks that give him a bad reputation.