Sweeping menu at Chutnys offers plenty of harder-to-find dishes.
Chutnys was so named because of the superstitions of an initial investor, who believed the restaurant would prosper by the juxtaposition of the lettering.
He's out of the picture but the name remains, testimony that proper spellings mean nothing in a nation that supports a place called Spageddie's.
In the struggling Crosswoods retail center on the Far North Side, Chutnys is surprisingly graceful for a strip mall restaurant. Burgundy, gold accents and brick facades give some refining touches to the smallish space, once
home to Tandoori Palace.
In typical Indian restaurant fashion, the menu is expansive, covering cuisines from the north and south. It devotes a large portion to dosa, a once-obscure style of Indian crepe that is now flourishing in central Ohio. Our
server insisted it was one of the chef's specialties, and he was right. The masala dosa ($6.75) is one of our favorite dishes, expertly done at Chutnys. The crispy, satellite-dish-sized, golden-brown crepe made from lentil flour
is folded over a filling of curry mashed potatoes predominantly seasoned with onion and mustard seeds.
Another thing that really struck us was how fresh the condiments -- sambar (a sort of vegetable soup), coconut chutney and spicy tomato chutney -- tasted. In fact, all the various chutneys are brought out with each order,
not left on the table to cake over with film.
Chutnys is a place for harder-to-find dishes, such as the pav bhaji ($8.95), an exotic sloppy Joe using toasted slider buns and a mash of spicy vegetables (potato, carrot and peas) topped with fresh cilantro, as are most
dishes. A dice of onions and tomatoes is served to the side.
Often misunderstood and held in uncharitable regard, goat actually has a familiar, big beefy flavor that shouldn't be lumped into the catchall "gamey" category. Chopped-up pieces, some bone-in, of stewed goat meat work
incredibly well in the biryani ($13.95), a rice dish with saffron and fresh mint. Take advantage of the raita, a yogurt dipping sauce with cucumbers and tomatoes, served with the dish.
Overall, the food preparation at Chutnys is commendable, but not everything works. The tomato-based chettinad curry ($13.95) is lovely, spicy but balanced, fragrant with ginger, clove and garlic. Most of the lamb was tender, but some far too chewy for our preference. We experienced a similar situation with the Malabar fish ($13.95) -- a wonderful coconut-and-cashew sauce over pieces of tilapia, a little dry and fishy, suggesting it wasn't at its freshest.
Service isn't entirely polished but it is friendly and fairly efficient. Beverages are frequently refilled and dirty plates are removed, but we had to bag our own leftovers and proper pacing of courses still needs work.
We're happy to see Indian return to Crosswoods, which had been absent the cuisine for some years. Our visits to Chutnys reminded us it had been too long.