Last night, in honour of my 29th year, we finally FINALLY went to Vij’s. I can’t say “I don’t know why we waited so long” because I know precisely why I’d never been there – the actual matter of “waiting so long.”
Vij’s doesn’t take reservations. They open promptly at 5:30pm and it’s first come-first served. They do make the wait very pleasant, serving chai and Indian equivalents of amuse bouche (bouches? how does the plural work?) while people are waiting – but I am not the type who waits for things. I am impatient and usually busy and squish as much into my calendar as possible. Waiting an indeterminate amount of time to get into a restaurant to eat is not my bag.
And frankly, if that’s who you are, you do not deserve to dine at Vij’s. I certainly didn’t. Until I put away my manic, control-freak nature, went with the flow, and let the experience unfold.
We did show up at about 5:10, and were the 2nd people to be waiting outside the door. We wanted to show up extra early, since we had a large group. By the time the restaurant opened, there were enough people waiting to fill the dining room, and then some. Other than that, don’t worry too much about showing up a bit later. It looked like they’re pretty adept at turning tables, so if you’re not starving or on a deadline, chill out in the lounge and enjoy some chai.
The extra-awesome part about dining at Vij’s with a large group was sharing the food. I’m a big fan of Family Style dining, and can’t think of a better way to enjoy Indian food anywhere – let alone a place where everything on the menu looks so good, it’s hard to decide what to order!
We ultimately left the dining decision in the hands of the staff, asking them to bring six appetizers and six entrees for our table of nine. It was more than enough food for all of us!
Garam Masala sauteed portobello mushrooms in porcini cream curry (2 orders)
Mutton Kebobs with Bengali-style curry
Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin masala (2 orders)
Curried Organic Chicken Liver Pate
Saag paneer with Lentil Curry and Chapati
Rajasthani-style goat curry with lightly-spiced bell peppers and cabbage
Wine-marinated Lamb Popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric spinach potatoes (2 orders)
Beef Shortribs in cinnamon and red wine curry with warm greens (2 orders)
And this came with plates of naan and bowls of rice to soak up all the amazing sauces.
Vij’s focus is on fresh, local food served Indian-style, and the freshness makes all the difference in the world. From roasting their own spices and making their own paneer & breads every day, to picking fresh and seasonal meats and produce, every dish at Vij’s highlights the quality of the ingredients.
I was also surprised, considering the classification of “fine dining” at the prices. After dinner, drinks (one for most people, two for some), tax and tip, nine of us managed to dine for a little under $50 each. It’s easy to spend that at yet another disappointing ‘fast casual’ chain, so this was phenomenal value. When Vij’s says they are running a restaurant that is truly for everyone, they really aren’t kidding!
The food is unexpectedly life-changing, and the lineup is worth changing your life & expectations for.
I will return. Often.