Bindi

I’ve been waiting for a serious attempt at high-end Indian food since I moved to Philadelphia four years ago. Bindi, from the people behind one my favorites, Lolita, has ended that wait.

The first thing you should know about Bindi is that it’s not authentic Indian. Just as Lolita heightens and contemporarizes Mexican spices and flavors, Bindi takes the same approach to Indian tastes. In other words, leave your  chicken tikka craving at home.

Again like Lolita, Bindi offers pitchers of drink mixers. These can be paired with either rum or vodka (as opposed to tequila for Lolita’s margarita mixers) and taste so phenomenally good that they are a legitimate danger to you and your loved ones. We ordered a pitcher of the Nimbu-Pani (Indian style pomegranate-ginger lemonade); I doubled the suggested dose of vodka and still couldn’t taste the alcohol. As I said, dangerous.

The food – that’s a different story. But before we get to that mixed bag, I feel forced to add a disclaimer: Because we went here over a month ago and the menu had just changed (and is not yet updated online), food details may be a little sketchy in this review. Bear with me.

We began our meal by sharing a delicious lobster appetizer. If memory serves, the lobster meat was stuffed in small tartlet crust and mixed with vegetables and spices, and topped with some type of jicama slaw. There was a lot going on but somehow all the flavors mixed harmoniously and we were off to a great start.

Unfortunately, the entrees didn’t quite live up to the promise of the appetizer. I ordered a pork chop that was perfectly succulent, but salty and over-spiced. It sat in a kind of stew of potatoes, corn and beans that was too often chewy and overcooked.

My wife fared only slightly better with a fish dish that was flavorful but not wholly appetizing. Whereas all of the ingredients meshed in the appetizer, these entrees seemed to pile on ingredients in a manic attempt to prove its “Indianess.”

Bindi certainly has the goods but it’s trying to hard. The place needs a few more months to gain some confidence and execute its concepts in a more satisfying way.

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