Darbar India Grill puts an upscale spin on a typically casual cuisine-the same approach as its two predecessors at 1221 W. Lake Street, Pizza Nea and Indio. Although another Indian restaurant, Delights of India, is right across the street, Darbar distinguishes itself from Uptown's limited south Asian options with an ambiance that's more date-worthy than hole-in-the-wall. The dining room has been redecorated in a pretty palette of blues and oranges with gold accents. Carved wooden elephants and a mural of a glamorous, Bollywood-style star give the space a feel that's authentic yet contemporary. With its free-range chicken and specialty cocktail list, Darbar is positioned a notch above cheap eats-too classy for a lunch buffet. It's not as ambitious, in culinary terms, as downtown Minneapolis's ultra-chic Om, but it also doesn't call for nearly the funds or formality.
Darbar's owner, Diljit Singh, operates four India Palace restaurants in the Twin Cities suburbs, and the new restaurant's menu, impressive for its breadth, largely overlaps with those of the others. It includes all the ubiquitous items like chana masala, curries such as chicken jalfrezi and a lamb rogan josh, but also harder-to-find fare, such as south Indian idly, or steamed rice/lentil patties.