My friends and I had a superb time at Vij’s restaurant!
I had chosen Vij’s as it was recently featured on the Food Network and I appreciated how the restaurant really flourished when Vikram and his partner Meeru came together with both of their complimentary and different strengths to make the restaurant what it is.
Of course I had to research, so I read on-line reviews and Vij’s own website for info. This is where I found out no reservations were to be had and that people normally line-up before the doors open at 5:30 pm.
As an group of eight you can imagine I was stressing if we were going to arrive all together. Dinah, Jane and I were actually in the neighbourhood around 4 pm but decided to do some window shopping along Granville. You can imagine my surprise (and I admit, panic) when we arrived at the doors at 5 pm and there was already a line-up. It didn’t help that a week before Vij’s had a major story about it in the Globe and Mail.
Nevertheless I was able to convince our gracious host (Vikram) that the other four people in my party of eight was just parking the car. Ning had joined us in the line-up.
We were briefly seated in their back-bar waiting area as they set up our table. Once we were seated, to my relief Jacquie, Patrick, and Hetty arrived as we were being served complimentary chai tea and perusing the menu. I cannot neglect to mention that at this point we were also being served complimentary tidbits of mini potato puris, cassava fries and pakoras. These small touches do wonders to settle you into the place while helping you forget that the restaurant is at full capacity and we may be waiting a while for food.
For appies I ordered for the group. We had mutton kabobs with Bengali style curry, samosas filled with lamb and beef sauteed in fennel, cloves and sumac, and garam masala sauteed portobello mushrooms in porcini cream curry.
Sharon joined us just in time for appetizers to be served. Now remember, I have not been here before. To my surprise the appetizers were in cute twos or smaller portions then I expected, but to my delight, my friends around the table shared these appetizers like family. Everyone was able to taste each appetizer and even went back for seconds of something they really enjoyed.
I thought the mutton was okay, crispy on the outside and wasn’t sure what to expect on the inside. The samosa was delicious with just the right amount of heat. But the real star was the garam masala sauteed mushrooms. They were cooked perfectly and a few of us (who will remain nameless) did not hesitate to take some naan and sop up the rest of the sauce once all of the mushrooms were gone!
For our real ulam three of us chose to have the wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on tumaric and spinach potatoes. This is the dish that Vij’s is well-known for and what I had intended to have all along.
This gets a center photo-shot because that is how good it is! I know sharing is caring – but let me tell you I did not offer one chop to anyone. (Hey, birthday privileges can only be used once a year!)
Again, appearances are deceiving for this dish. You are presented with lamb chops that look to be small in size on top of a bunch of sauce. But it is the layers of this dish that are to savour. The cream curry is the perfect sauce for the smokey lamb. And actually, the numerous chops, despite the small size, fills you up because of the depth of the creamy sauce. Hidden underneath the assembly of lamb are the tumaric and spinach potatoes which were pinakamasarap! Once the lamb and potatoes were consumed, I’m not ashamed to say I was spooning up the sauce and devouring it almost like a soup!
I know it’s not all about just my meal. Others around the table had the grilled pork tenderloin and baby back ribs, BC spot prawns with halibut, seared venison medallions, goat curry and a few of us also enjoyed Indian Mojitos throughout.
To end the evening I was surprised by a candle-lit dessert of what I think was hand-made ice cream with nuts, and again enough spoons for everyone to have a taste. I even had a personal birthday greeting from Vikram – hey he’s on TV so he is a celebrity! I don’t think I’ve ever had a celebrity greeting before.
It was one of the most welcoming, warm and comfortable dinners I’ve had that was not in someone’s home. For Vij’s I definitely believe and agree with the hype!
Note: I do need to give credit to the Bon Vivant Blog for the photos as I did not have a camera with me but wanted to share with you a few shots to help stimulate your visual senses.