I have a confession this week: Sometimes even restaurant critics are a little nervous to try a new place.
Take Indian restaurants. I've had some superb Indian food in this valley particularly at Sandy's Royal India but I've also had some that was not so good. And I like Indian food, which makes the disappointment all the more keen when it's not up to snuff.
So when Ganesh Indian Cuisine opened just a few blocks from my home in Midvale, I put off visiting.
Too bad, too, because when we made it to Ganesh for a recent family dinner, I regretted my hesitation. I give Royal India the edge in ambience and service, but the food we had at Ganesh is among the best I've eaten.
We started our meal with the vegetable samosas and chicken pakora, making the mistake we always make: not ordering enough. It took our family of six about two minutes to scarf down the moist and savory samosas stuffed with potatoes and peas and the tiny bites of tender chicken coated in nutty chickpea batter. The appetizers came with a mild, sweet tamarind sauce and a bright-green mint sauce with a surprising spicy finish.
We also had Ganesh's equivalent of chips and salsa, a big basket of papadum, super-thin plate-size Indian crackers studded with caraway seeds.
Ganesh offers entrees two ways: a la carte or "thali" style, a traditional south Indian dinner (we had two of each). Our thali meals included, in little silver cups alongside the main dish, a mild, rich sambar (soup), the vegetable curry of the day, raita (yogurt sauce) and a dessert. Of course we also got big ramekins of basmati rice and a basket of the Indian flatbread called naan.
The vegetable curry featured creamed spinach and tender chickpeas in a complex curry. The raita was cool and studded with cucumber, the naan tender and fresh, and the dessert, a bowl of sweetened vermicelli with nuts and sultanas, both surprising and strangely familiar in its comforting flavors.
The main dishes were the stars of our meal. We got two coconut kormas, a mild but still highly spiced version with lots of sweet shrimp, and a medium-spicy lamb korma whose flavors were so well-balanced that even my spiciness-averse husband enjoyed it.
At our server's suggestion we got the classic, chicken tikka masala, which had a sauce so heavenly that it's difficult to do it justice in writing: mildly sweet but with tons of depth, with new flavors swimming to the surface with every bite. That's the dish on which we ran out of naan, so intent were we on sopping up every bit of sauce. And that reminds me: We could have used a few more than the three naan served to our party of six.
The last dish, malai kofta, was my attempt to branch out. In a dark-pink, mild and creamy cashew sauce were an aromatic mixture of homemade Indian cheese and vegetables rolled into firm, fine-textured balls. Everyone in our family liked it.
We finished with bright-orange, strongly flavored frozen mango khulfi and a bowl of wonderful kheer, the mild and elegant rice pudding that here was enlivened by strands of vermicelli-like tiny ribbons.Appetizers $3.25-$8.50, soup and salad $1.75-$3.50, bread $1.50-$2.95, sides $1.50-$3.95, entrees $8.95-$14.95, dessert $2.50.
Where: 777 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale
Hours: Monday, 5-10 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Wheelchair access: EasyAlso: The restaurant serves halal meats; catering, takeout and lunch buffet are available, as well as a Sunday chat special from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org