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Marigold Restaurant Review: A Chicago Restaurant You Should Know

By Barbara Keer and Dorothie Shah

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Marigold

There is a storefront in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood that holds unexpected treasures. It is Marigold Restaurant. It's easy to pass it by and never know it's there. We would have done this except for our friends, Dottie and Suru who have enjoyed eating there and have even become friendly with owner Sandeep Malhotra and his wife, Laurel. They told us we had to go there, too. So, one lovely evening the four of us, Barbara, Leon, Dottie and Suru went to explore the delights of Marigold Restaurant. Dottie explained its name saying that in India, the marigold flower is made into garlands to decorate images in the Temples.

Jen and Sandeep

Entering Marigold Restaurant, we noticed an area partitioned with niches for candles that separate the dining area from the entrance. The ceilings are high and the walls are rich coral, salmon and marigold yellow echoing the Rejasthani desert or the American southwest, and provide a perfect setting for dark wooden tabletops placed amid minimalist decor. Sandeep Malhotra oversees the front of the house including menu and beverage development, while James Dragatsis oversees kitchen and back office operations. Sandeep was inspired to bring Chicago a modern Indian restaurant serving classic and modern Indian food because he visited Indian restaurants in London and New York.

Many recipes are from Sandeeps' Mother and Grandmother. The menu is designed to encourage each guest to experience a variety of flavors during their meal. The food is unique and distinctive incorporating a broad and wonderful spectrum of ingredients and flavors of India. This is yours to enjoy at very reasonable prices. ($14 - $22 for entrees).

Through the window

The wine list is eclectic and includes wines from small boutique wineries from all over the States and other countries. The full bar highlights carefully paired wines and specialty cocktails and among the specialty drinks offered, is the refreshing Limca "tini" which transforms a familiar Indian soft drink with a splash of grenadine and a shot of Vodka. Leon and Suru could not resist ordering this and enjoyed it very much.

Starters:

"Boti Kabab, cubes of lamb marinated in tandoori spices, heirloom tomatoes and sliced onions, lemon and cumin vinaigrette". The marinated cubes were tender and flavorful. Leon noted that the lamb was very good, Suru said it was medium rare, cooked to perfection and pleasantly charred on the outside, while Dottie commented that the tandoor spice marinade gave this dish a rich flavor. Dottie and Barbara were very pleased with the freshness and crispness of the vegetable accompaniment, the tomatoes being especially succulent.

Boti Kabab,Samosa

"The Samosa, flaky pastry dough filled with spiced potato and peas/ mint and tamarind chutney", was a great vegetarian choice. The samosa is quickly deep-fried, and is so greaseless that we thought it was baked. Barbara thought that the spices were delicate and the dish delicious. Suru explained the chutney is freshly made in small batches each day using fresh cilantro and mint. The chutneys blended with and heightened the flavors of the somosa. We also enjoyed the "New Gewurz" from Santa Barbara and the Syrah, Qupe "Central Coast."

Mid-Course:

"Dahi Kabab, peppercorn laced yogurt seared kabab style/ micro greens/pistachios/orange and coriander vinaigrette". This unusual yogurt preparation is made by compressing and draining the yogurt in cheesecloth overnight. It is then dry enough to shape into patties, which are lightly floured and gently sauteed. Dottie told us, "You've never had yogurt like this before. Have it while it's warm. It is not typical of food in India".

Suru and Leon both said they had never had anything like it before and Suru added, "It's a creative variation of yogurt dishes generally served in India." Barbara thought the salad greens, especially the frisee with the orange coriander vinaigrette, contrasted with the light, slightly sharp yogurt flavors, awakening her taste buds.

Roasted beet salad and Dahi kabab

"Roasted Beet Salad, seasonal beets/garbanzos/almonds/cilantro-lime yogurt dressing". Suru commented that the beets were excellent and Leon said they were delicious. Dottie explained that the beets were coated with roasted cumin and garam masala, and she liked the resulting tingle on the tongue, while Barbara noted the beets were very succulent.

Naan and chutneys

And then there was the naan. What a treat! This is a must along with the trio of freshly made chutneys. The most unusual was the irresistible pineapple chutney but the mint-coriander and date-onion chutneys were also delicious. We learned the naan has a bit of buttermilk in the batter, making it light. When shaped, it is enhanced with a sprinkling of cumin, quickly baked in a super hot tandoori oven (700 to 800 degrees) and finished with a touch of garlic butter (ghee).

Mains Courses:

"Halibut, pan roasted halibut/on a bed of tamarind glazed cabbage and fingerling potatoes/crispy leeks." This dish was beautiful. Suru's comment was, "That's halibut?" The group enjoyed this dish very much but pondered, "How do you think to blend Halibut and cabbage" and have it work so well?

Halibut

"Baingan, pakora style eggplant and slices of fresh seared paneer/layered with tomato and fennel masala sauce". This is a welcome addition to the menu for vegetarians. Suru thought it was truly tasty and everyone marveled at the blend of flavors and textures in this dish. The wine that Dottie was enjoying was Tempranillo, Bodegas Protos from Spain and said, "It my kind of wine, velvet smooth, dry but fruity, and reasonably priced".

Baingan

Vegetarian Sides:

"Saag paneer" had perfectly blended small bits of fresh cheese (similar to
ricotta) mixed with bits of tomato and freshly chopped spinach delicately seasoned. We had more and more and each time couldn't believe how good it was.

Saag paneer and Pakora green beans

"Pakora Green Beans" were coated with a spicy chickpea batter and deep -fried. Barbara thought the spices and crispiness were fabulous but Dottie thought it was a bit salty.

Desserts:

"Kulfi, house made ice cream garnished with pistachios", "Kama Sutra Chocolate Cake, flourless dark chocolate cake delicately spiced with Kashmiri red chili powder, with fiery pomegranate sauce", and "Kheer, Indian rice pudding infused with rose essence". Of course we were too full for dessert, so we worked our way through all three. Suru enjoyed the Kulfi, and we all thought the cake was a bit like mousse, very good but a bit sweet for us. The Kheer was our favorite.

Gorgeous desserts

Dottie believes that Marigold is a perfect restaurant for sharing dishes with friends. The variety of tastes and textures and generous provisions of share plates makes it a perfect place to mutually enjoy and savor complex spices and foods not smothered by an excess of chili or hot pepper. The group's favorites were the naan, the saag paneer and the kheer. Leon said, "This has been one of my best meals, ever!"

Jonathan and Neil

Marigold Restaurant is at: 4832 Broadway (Uptown), Chicago, IL 60640

PH: 773.293. GOLD or

www.marigoldrestaurant.com

Hours: Su-Th 5:30 to 10:00 p.m., F&S 5:30 to 11:00 p.m.

There is no valet parking but we found parking easily on a side street and there is metered parking is available on Broadway.

Photos: Leon Keer

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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