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Delhi Heights: Upscale entry in Little India

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Our admittedly jaded palate experienced a momentary frisson of anticipation when we heard that a new, upscale Indian restaurant had opened its doors on 74th Street. The Indian restaurant scene there had become more than a touch stagnant in recent years, and we hoped that Dehli Heights would bring new heights to Jackson Heights.

The setting is sleek and moderne, paying no discernable homage to its Indian roots. No brass elephants or tapestries of the gods in sight. The mood is very au courant, and if a trendy new American bistro were to take it over, they wouldn’t have to redecorate. The floor to ceiling plate glass windows are unadorned, but the view of Little India’s commercial activities is less than breathtaking. A few sheer drapes softening the view of the gritty street would help. For value added to its ambiance, there is live entertainment Thursdays through Sundays consisting of an Indian keyboardis­t⁄vocalist and a Nepalese guitarist. Their repertoire ranges from familiar Western pop tunes to what sounded to our admitted unschooled ears like karaoke renditions of Bollywood soundtracks.

The menu spans all the regions of India, plus a deep selection of Indian Chinese food, sometimes referred to as “Tangra style,” for the neighborhood of Calcutta where it originated. The restaurant boasts three chefs — one Northern Indian, one Southern Indian, and one Chinese, to ensure the authenticity of its wide−reaching menu. They also have a full bar, with, according to their Web site, “a wide variety of liquors, including some of the finest wines and scotches from all over the world.” We consider beer obligatory when consuming spicy Indian fare, but it’s nice to know there are choices.

The appetizers selection here is both extensive and expensive. It goes on for as long as many full menus, and ranges in price from $4.25 for a pair of vegetarian samosas to the Delhi Heights Special Seafood Platter deluxe at $29.50. We tried Punjabi samosas, which were a cut above average, with fresh−tasting vegetables asserting themselves in the potato filling.

Pudina paneer tikka is a vegetarian option from the tandoori appetizers. It’s the Indian answer to saganaki, the Greek fried cheese dish that translates as “flaming cheese.” In this case, a slab of paneer, the fresh Indian cheese, is baked in a tandoori oven, and presented, sliced in strips, on a sizzling platter. It was interestingly seasoned and pleasing in texture, but more than a couple of strips would have been overpowering. It is best shared at a table among two or more diners. Delhi Heights Special Chicken 65 caught our attention on the Chinese Indian appetizers selections. It woke us up with its intensity. Lightly battered chicken thighs are smothered in an incendiary sauce liberally laced with curry leaves. India’s delicious answer to Buffalo wings.

Kashmiri rogan josh is a classic lamb curry. Kashmiri is a slightly creamier style of sauce. The quality of the lamb in this dish was much freer of fat and gristle than what you can expect from the nearby competition. This is a good choice for curry lovers.

Chicken Manchurian is a typical Chinese Indian entrÉe. It is, like the Chicken 65, battered chicken. The sauce is spicy and soy based. It was a mistake to order both at the same meal as they overlap each other a bit. The Chicken 65 is more rewarding than the Manchurian.

The Bottom Line

Delhi Heights is a welcome addition to the J.H. Indian food scene. It is pricey compared to some of the other local joints, but the quality of its ingredients, especially its meats, should be taken into account. Factor in the more salubrious surroundings and live entertainment, and the price premium may be justified.

Delhi Heights

37−66 74th St.

Jackson Heights, NY 11372

718−507−1111

www.delhiheights.us

Cuisine: Pan Indian and Chinese Indian fusion

Setting: Modern, stylish

Service: Professional

Hours: Lunch & Dinner daily. 20% discount from noon—4 Mon−Fri

Reservations: Optional

Alcohol: Full bar

Parking: Street

Dress: Casual

Children: No menu

Music: Live music Thurs.−Sun.

Takeout: Yes

Credit Cards: Yes

Noise Level: Noisy when crowded

Handicap Accessible: Yes.

A SAMPLE FROM THE MENU

Punjabi Samosas … $4.25

Pudina Paneer Tikka … $11.25

Chicken 65 … $8.95

Kashmiri Rogan Josh … $14.95

Manchurian Chicken … $14.95

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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