- 1285 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY, 40204
- (502) 473-8765
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
- Official Web Site:
It's a response deeply wired in the mind of every Kentuckian. In the spring, when Derby is on the horizon, we hear the word “mint” and we immediately think “julep.”
But mint, takes other forms as well. And lately, after a few visits to Kashmir Indian Restaurant, my wires are crossed. I hear “mint.” I think “chutney.”
Strictly speaking, the mint chutney at Kashmir is a condiment, designed to complement main dishes, but this stuff reverses that equation. It's a bowl of green fire, bold and vivid, an upstaging adjunct that lights up every dish it touches — or for dipping up with the crisp lentil wafers called pappadam ($1.50); charred rounds of onion or garlic naan ($2.75); or poori ($2.75), the big, airy puffballs of bread that arrive at the table looking like deflated beach balls.
Kashmir has been a fixture on Bardstown Road since 1999. It's survived two fire-related closings and always seems to come back a bit improved from the time before.
In its third incarnation, it occupies a stately old house with bright, cozy, freshly renovated indoor dining, a narrow wrap-around porch, and a front-yard patio that's still rough around the edges but promises to become a delightful outdoor venue when completed.
Service, too, has shifted gears at the new Kashmir; a restaurant that once cultivated an aura of reserved formality now tilts toward generous smiles and eager, engaged service that seems nicely matched to the cheery Bollywood music that plays softly in the background.
As for the food, the menu hasn't changed at all. There are still plenty of appetizers; breads; and stewed, braised, fried and tandoori dishes for vegetarians and omnivores of all stripes. And every dish is infused with festive colors and seductive smells that invite a diner to plunge in and taste everything at once.
Battered, fried, crescent-shaped samosas ($2.75) are stuffed with peas and potatoes (or minced lamb, if you prefer). Aloo tikki, soft, lightly crisped croquettes made from the same ingredients ($2.75), are rich but mild. And though the menu doesn't mention it, ask and the kitchen will serve either dish “chaat-style” (by serving a saucy stew of chickpeas, spices and fruit that you can pour on top).
If the mint chutney sparks your appetite for more heat, boneless chunks of chicken breast are sautéed and sauced in brick red sauce for chicken chili ($9.99) — a dish that, like everything else on the menu, can be spiced on a scale from “mild” to “very hot” (and at the upper end of that scale, you'll be glad to have a bottle of beer, a cooling glass of lassi, or a bowl of the cooling yogurt-based dip, raita, close at hand).
Imagine that the potatoes from your favorite old-fashioned American pot roast were suddenly infused with turmeric, cumin, coriander and a bunch of other flavors, and you'll understand why my current favorite among Kashmir's stewed vegetarian dishes is the yellow-tinted bowl of potatoes and cauliflower called aloo gobhi ($8.99).
If you're looking for lentils, or dishes based on eggplant or cheese (or just about any combination), they're all to be found. And if you hope to build up your strength through spinach, aloo palak ($9.99), a luscious, creamy bowl of potatoes and spinach ought to suffice — though a recent sample lacked the well-defined contrasting textures that lend interest to other dishes.
Vegetarians can spend many a happy meal going through the list. So can folks who love meat, poultry and seafood.
An excellent place to start is with the tandoori mixed grill ($14.99), which emerges from the charcoal-fired oven with a hot, satisfying hiss and features bright red yogurt-and-spice-marinated chicken legs, juicy chunks of white meat and slices of a house-made lamb sausage so distinguished in its refined texture and its subtle seasoning that you'll wish you could talk the owner, Kashmira Singh, into selling you 10 pounds of the stuff for your next cookout.