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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Food
Feel
Price
7.9
8.0
$40
Indian
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu noon–2:30pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri noon–2:30pm
Fri 5:00pm–10:30pm
Sat noon–3:00pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:30pm
Sun noon–3:00pm
Sun 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.coromandelcuisine.com

Orange
185 Boston Post Rd.
Orange, CT
(203) 795-9055
Coromandel
Multi-regional Indian served elegantly in a somewhat dated-hip setting

Coromandel is a coastal region in Southeast India, but the food at this Connecticut-based minichain is a panoply of influences from all over the Subcontinent. So it follows that the menu is not only lengthy, but rich in flavors not seen in the lunch buffets that comprise most Americans’ experience with Indian.

One of those flavors is sugar. A dish touted as the “chef’s signature special,” shaam savera, sees spinach and cottage cheese dumplings served with a “tangy tomato honey sauce” that is more like sticky-sweet brown salad dressing. Sambar vadai dresses up dense, heavy lentil dumplings (they’re supposed to be light and crispy) with sambar, Southern India’s staple, a curried lentil stew that lacks the kick it wants. The greatest triumph in this area is a cauliflower masala that is deliciously spiced, with strong cumin notes and an oily, wonderful texture. (Get it with yogurt.) We also like their more kozhambu, okra in yogurt and southern spices, mustard seed, curry leaf, red chili. It reminds us of the fried pickles we’ve scarfed down in Texas (these, too, get old after several bites).

Their best work is with lamb, especially ghustaba, New Zealand tandoori lamb chops with yogurt, scented with nutmeg and ajwain. This Kashmiri specialty is tender, with a nice sear and served sizzling atop chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes that remind us rather of some favored Italian dishes. Also good are the kori kebab, bright red ground lamb “sausages” with cumin, coriander, mint, and cilantro. But turf trumps surf when badami jhinga shrimp are overcooked, then served in a bright orange, sugary goo that’s a bit like Chinese sweet-and-sour sauce.

The space is strip-mall elegant, following the theorem that Indian restaurants tend to be prettier than other ethnic holes-in-the-wall. Most prominent above the high-backed booths in this small space are these small, blown-glass lighting fixtures in twisting, conic shapes and primary colors that were the apex of style…in 1995. Still, the lighting is warm, and the place is very likeable. The service is impeccable—soft-spoken, patient, performing an elegant sleight of hand with a wine bottle (try India’s sweet but interesting Sula Chenin Blanc).

Although we usually applaud innovation, when this kitchen takes liberties with saag paneer, it obliterates it with cardamom (at least it’s not more sugar). In Coromandel’s case, perhaps less is more.

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