Nirvana Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills is
slightly hard to locate with only a small sign out front, but since it is
directly opposite the Bombay Palace this could make this area of Wilshire
decidedly Indian in flavor. The surprising thing is that they are sister
restaurants, but very different in style and quality.The chef here has been around since the restaurant opened over five
years ago, and it shows in the quality of the curries. I went with a
British friend who had experienced some rough times with curries in the
past, but he snapped up this stuff and vowed to end his boycott of the
genre, and was hungry for more.
A rather inauspicious and frankly shabby entrance
leads into a standard looking dining room, but that is complemented by an
“Arabian nights” style lounge area, where you can lounge away on
sofa’s snacking on the Indian appetizers. Owner Deep Sethi works the
room magnificently, and the quiet Tuesday night we went there, there were
a few young women stretching out nibbling on appetizers.The menu is nicely laid out and uncomplicated, although several of
the amateur reviews I have read have described the restaurant as
“pricey”. If you are used to spending $6 on a curry then I suppose it
is, but the prices here definitely match the quality, the only yardstick
in my opinion.
Appetizers are generally priced between $8-12, with
just the Nirvana Tandoori Sampler over $20. I went for the Stuffed
Mushrooms ($9), crispy mushrooms stuffed with cheese and cilantro and
served with papadom and a tomato chili salsa.Breads such as the laccha paratha ($4.50) are a treat here, and if
you want something really different go for the Buddha’s Stuffed Breads
($7.50), bread stuffed with cheese, chicken, lamb, onion and potato. The
Lamb Saag that I tried that is not on the regular menu was done perfectly.
All curries are served “medium” which means mild by British standards,
but if you want a bit of a kick then just make clear when ordering.
My friend’s Chicken Tikka Masala ($23) was also
high quality, and it was no surprise when I discovered that this dish won
an award in 2006 as being the best in a culinary competition. Onion,
tomato and pepper masala complement this sure fire winner.As a side vegetable dish try the Dal Nirvana ($12), a house lentil
dish slowly cooked over charcoal, although like the rest of the menu,
there are numerous choices.