Why: Chutneys opened under new ownership in October. For the most part, it’s business as usual. Chutneys serves authentic Indian cuisine which regular diners of the restaurant can be assured hasn’t changed.
Atmosphere: The space is colored in earth tones, which lends to a serene environment, and a water feature adds the soothing sound of trickling water. Seating consists of tables and chairs on the open floor and booths along the perimeter for a more intimate dining experience. Sconce lighting on the walls, small halogen spots from the ceiling and Italian glass pendants above booths bring a variety of light that can be especially appreciated during a dinner visit, whereas during the day, large windows allow natural light priority.
What I tried: My dining companions and I began our meal with the chilli paneer from the starters. For entrees, we settled on the chicken curry and the masala dosa served with sambar soup. We tried the plain variety of naan, and for dessert we had mango ice cream and the gulab jamun. I also sampled a cup of chai tea.
After being seated, we were each served a crisp, thin wafer, approximately 5-6 inches in diameter. These were accompanied by a trio of sauces to share. The sauces varied from coconut-sweet to savory to semi-spicy. All were delicious.
The highlight of my meal was the chilli paneer. It consisted of homemade Indian cheese cubes and sautéed bell peppers and red onions, generously covered in indo-Chinese sauces that were mildly spicy and sweet. If I had known how tasty it was, I would have ordered it for my meal, paired it with the fresh, soft naan, and been quite satisfied. The Indian cheese reminded me of tofu in consistency and cheese curds in flavor.
The chicken curry was a red version and was served with a bowl of rice. The generous portion of chicken was very tender. Those who appreciate a good curry dish will want to give this a try.
Masala dosa is basically a giant stuffed crepe. A mix of vegetables that includes mostly potatoes and carrots create a soft, hot center to the crepe, the flavor of which was similar to the soup, a lentil variety, that was served alongside. Though the crepe and its filling was flavorful, I found it a bit dry.
Of the desserts, we favored the mango ice cream over the gulab jamun. The ice cream’s consistency was similar to frozen whipped cream, only much more dense, and it had tiny ice crystals throughout. It also had bits of coconut in it. The gulab jamun resembled a donut hole soaked in sugary glaze and tasted just like we expected from its appearance.
I found the chai tea Americanized as compared to when I tried it on my last visit to Chutneys. It was sweeter, perhaps less authentic, but more widely preferred.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: South Indian dal, a tomato lentil curry with ginger, garlic, and South Indian spices, sounded tasty, as did the mixed grill combination of chicken, jumbo shrimp, and lamb grilled in the tandoor. There are several vegetarian options as well.
Other observations: Although the menu is new, if there is a favorite from the previous menu, it may be prepared upon request. The waitress was polite, attentive, and helpful with menu suggestions. I found the prices and portions well matched.
Cost: Appetizers are $4.50 to $9. Varieties of Naan are $2 to $3.50. Soups is $3.60 and all other selections are $7.99 to $17.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 3000 S.E. 164th, Suite 100, Vancouver.
Health score: Chutneys has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428 or visit http://chutneysvancouver.com.