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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
7.9
8.5
$60
Indian
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00pm–9:00pm
Fri–Sat 5:00pm–10:00pm

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

www.vindalho.com

Division/Clinton
2038 SE Clinton St.
Portland, OR
(503) 467-4550
Vindalho
Indian-influenced dishes served in an equally evocative architectural stunner

This fun, colorful, two-story space has a lot of drama and flair. The architecture makes for a more visually stimulating experience than at Vindalho’s gargantuan, vapid sibling restaurant Lauro Kitchen. Interesting shadows are cast on the mango-colored walls by geometric art installations. Perhaps most stunning is the artful range hood in the open kitchen, where you can watch the cooking if your date isn’t doing it for you. A large door rolls up in nice weather.

The menu bills itself as “spice route cuisine,” and the mostly Indian-influenced menu does stretch now and then into Indonesia and the Middle East. Don’t miss the specials, which are usually quite good. Of these, chicken pakoras have been terrific—creamy coriander-spiced chicken is wrapped in a coconut shell and deep fried. Samosas are made with seasonal ingredients to complement the potato base, and have a light, non-greasy dough. They’re expertly fried.

Lamb kebabs in fenugreek cream are cooked to tenderness in the tandoor. Goan-style mussels get a marvelous sweetness from coconut milk, although the finish falls a bit flat. Pork vindalho is one of the best things on the menu, tender and moist, with a tangy and fragrant sauce and a long, spicy finish. A dash of balsamic vinegar gives the saffron basmati rice a piquant, yet balanced undertone. That said, we don’t know why the dish is topped with onion rings.

There are about eight chutneys at Vindalho, which you can (and should) try as a sampler of three for $5. These include a wonderful peach-and-fennel flower, a properly made cucumber-mint raita, a tangy red onion-and-date, a tamarind, and a sweet tomato chutney. Each gives the dishes a whole other dimension of flavor, perhaps making up for the lack of more authentically penetrating spices within.

The beer list includes four or five changing taps of local microbrews, and a few more in bottle from here and abroad. The wine list is well chosen, with helpful suggestions for pairings. This isn’t the most spicy, authentic Indian food around, but sometimes that’s not what you’re looking for.

In the end, you’ll appreciate the creativity and capable execution of these dishes, just as you’ll appreciate the artfulness of the design here.

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