>> Tuesday, March 25, 2014
116-30 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Despite Forest Hills' proximity to Jackson Heights, or perhaps because of it, we don't have much in the way of Indian restaurants. Yes, the zip code has Baluchi's, the oft maligned, but in reality not-bad-albeit-timid, microchain. But that's about it. ... No, we also have Haveli, and Pike, having ordered delivery from them on a number of occasions, had been a hearty advocate of their deliciousness. "Had been" because that was before we decided to dine there in person.
Haveli rests on that somewhat depressing stretch of Queens Boulevard between "downtown" Forest Hills and Union Turnpike. The part that feels like you've traveled back in time to 1981. Pike and I walked in around 7. Inside, Haveli is massive. "You could fit a Barnes & Noble in here. Or at least most of one." Pike remarked. "Certainly a supermarket." I replied. And Haveli's gargantuan-ness was only emphasized by the glaring fact that we were its only patrons. For our entire meal, we sat alone under huge crystal chandeliers like guests who arrived at a wedding a day late. Not only was nobody else there and not only did nobody else come in, but nobody was ordering anything either. Almost nobody. One delivery (Pike noticed).
To start with, I ordered a passable, if thin and bland Mulligatawny Soup. There are some mulligatawny soups (a curried lentil soup) that will knock your socks off and make you wonder why people even bother to eat anything else. This was not one of those. I doctored it up with a few of the sauces on the table, which it sorely needed, but even then, it wasn't making me yearn for a second bowl. And, espite alleging to be made with diced chicken, I assure you that there was none. I don't think I've ever had bad Samosas, and they were good here, too (though how deep fried mashed potato dumplings could ever be anything but delicious is a mystery to me). The Haryali Kabab appetizer, grilled chicken marinated in mint and coriander was also good, but it was a wee bit unsatisfying. It had little depth beyond being lightly seasoned, though it was quite moist.
Our entrees soon came, and Pike was looking forward to his go-to dish, Chicken Tikka Saagwala, a grilled chicken in a creamy spinach sauce. But when he started eating, he was nonplussed. It was bland, as was my Chicken Tikka Masala, a grilled chicken served in a soup of spiced tomato sauce. "Every time I ordered delivery, it was so much better." Pike said, wondering whether the kitchen was having an off day or if the wait staff took a look at two white guys and said to the kitchen "dumb it down for these two." Honestly, we, or at least I, could barely taste anything through the volume of sauce, and the sauce wasn't exactly blowing me away. Balichi's has started looking better, I can say that. Oh, we also got some Naan. After all, who wouldn't? The Naan was good.
So if you're wondering if I can recommend a restaurant that felt like sitting in a deserted banquet hall, that serves food which was certainly no better than other Indian restaurants I've eaten in, at prices are no less expensive, and which was served with zero presentation whatsoever... well, I guess I'd have to return for another meal and see if it improves. As of right now, no, I can't recommend them. However, all that being said, they get a pretty good Yelp rating.
Three appetizers, two entrees, two naans, and two diet colas came to $67 plus tax and tip.