BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT - 2000
Nearly all Twin Cities-area Indian restaurants are pan-Indian, preferring to serve all dishes from all regions rather than to concentrate on a single strength. Consequently, savvy fans of Indian cuisine learn to tease out the various kitchens' strengths: Passage to India in Uptown has extraordinary breads; Udupi in Columbia Heights has the best dosai around, as well as the biggest vegetarian selection; nearby Sahib's Gateway to India works magic with a tandoori oven; Taste of India in St. Louis Park makes wonderful, buttery curries; and Chutney's (in either New Brighton or Eagan) has moments of greatness. But as a one-stop destination, eager-to-please newcomer India Palace stands out. Its strengths include a lunch buffet whose individual dishes shine as brightly as the bargain pricing (the $6.95 price tag includes a complementary dosai), vegetable entrées that seem as fresh as salads, paneer as light as can be (and not rubbery, as it usually is elsewhere). There is room for improvement, especially in terms of ambience and décor, though that colorful canopy in the main room is a good start. Until a more ambitious Indian restaurant seizes the crown (an Indian version of Gardens of Salonica or Chiang Mai Thai?) India Palace proudly keeps the throne.