Jewel of India
Indian cuisine moves into the Ramada
Sitting at the base of the Ramada Hotel, Porter’s restaurant is smack-dab in the middle of downtown Eau Claire, and the location couldn’t be any sweeter. But on June 30, a new restaurant began to spice things up with authentic Indian cuisine – and this time, it’s here to stay.
Amar Singh, owner of Porter’s, is a veteran of the restaurant business. Along with his two brothers, he established an Indian restaurant, Jewel of India, several years ago in the Twin Cities. After moving to Eau Claire to take the reins of Porter’s in 2004, he began offering an Indian buffet during the week, featuring some of the more popular dishes from his business back in Minnesota. The buffet became immensely popular among the restaurant’s patrons, and before long, Singh decided he would start a new branch of his first restaurant in the Barstow Street side of Porter’s. With such a high demand for Indian food, he thought, why not turn the buffet into a full-fledged restaurant? Supply and demand – it’s basic economics, really.
When I met with Singh two weeks ago, he barely had time to speak; the chime of his cell phone going off was matched with employees filing in and out of his office at a constant rate. Not surprising, considering that the restaurant was within days of its June 30 grand opening. If Singh was stressed, though, he certainly didn’t show it – throughout the hustle, he was more than thrilled to let me know all the details about his restaurant, from graphic designs to the endless, delectable menu options.
Appetizers, soups, lamb, chicken, seafood, and unique desserts are only a few of the dishes offered, said Singh. Among the most popular items is chicken tikka masala, a curry dish with chicken cutlets (known as ‘tikka’) served in a creamy, tomato-based sauce with garlic, ginger, and green pepper seasoning.
Not feeling carnivorous? The restaurant also offers countless vegetarian dishes with potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese, all served with rice, chutney, and naan (a leavened, oven-baked flatbread). Try the shahi panner, a dish with homemade cheese cubes in a creamy onion and tomato sauce, or the curry pakora, fried vegetable balls in a tangy yogurt sauce.
You can also surrender to your sweet tooth with rice pudding, pastries, and ice cream. The bar offers a selection of Indian teas, juice, soft drinks, milk shakes, and Taj Mahal beer – a micro brew with a taste as royal as its name.
And aside from its unique menu, there’s no denying the distinct charm the restaurant triumphantly delivers. A quick walk through Porter’s bar takes you through the tall French doors and into the cozy, humble dining area the Jewel of India will now be calling home. Comfy booths line the softly painted orange walls, and tables fill in the rest of the space, under elegant chandeliers and against the windows overlooking Barstow. An aroma of sweet curry and spices lingers in the air, welcoming and soothing.
“People are going to like the food,” Singh said, sitting up with excitement from his leather chair. “We have something here for everyone.”
Jewel of India opened June 30 at 205 S Barstow St, inside Ramada Convention Center.