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Simul Parikh

Grand Trunk - Quick-Serve Indian in a Night Club Atmosphere, Threatening Fiola on Indiana Avenue in Penn Quarter

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Anyone try this place? 4.5 stars on Yelp at 70 reviews...

...

Something looks fishy about the Yelp reviews. Many have similar format and comments.

Hmmm, haven't heard that before. Laughing emoticon here ___

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Is there a railroad somewhere nearby?

Nearby this charming club?

Snake eyes, and you're there. 200-c1935_1509312a_Deed_Indiana-Front.JP

And here I thought Fiola had a Monopoly on this block.

Well, *I* actually understood, and appreciated, your humor, but I one-upped you, and I've never understood why this band made it so big.

(Get it? Charming? Snake?)

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Anyone try this place? 4.5 stars on Yelp at 70 reviews...

Grand Trunk

"Grand Trunk Opens In Penn Quarter - Breakfast Foods, Curries, Naan, Burgers, Salads, Tea, Smoothies, All In A Night-Club Atmosphere With Techno Music, Chandeliers, Flat-Screens ...." on popville.com

Something looks fishy about the Yelp reviews. Many have similar format and comments.

At times I "review" reviews, looking for patterns or other elements that might reflect fakes.   What I saw here were a lot of out of town reviews, a good number of out of town reviews that were also relatively short and done by people with hardly any review experience.   That is about all I saw that was fishy.

Moving out of the restaurant industry I have seen "groups of reviews" that definitely have a very similar and repetitive element to them.   I suspect they were "crafted" or faked.

What did you see?

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I shouldn't have said that, I felt a few seemed similar. I actually want to try the place and think it sounds cool. I will edit what I said

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I have actually been there. There are two floors, the first floor has a bunch of booths, a round bar in the middle, and the counter for placing orders. The first floor was also freezing cold on an arctic, blustery day. The downstairs requires walking down a flight of clear stairs with tv screens underneath, which is pretty disorienting - the wait staff will carry your food down if you don't want to try to navigate the stairs with a tray of food in hand. There is a motley assortment of seating arrangements in the lower level, including a long table with benches? and some smaller tables with a variety of chairs. There are tv screens everywhere on the lower floor, each showing something different, and is probably best avoided by anyone sensitive to flashing lights.

The restrooms have multifunction toilets with bidets and a control pad. There was a soccer match showing, and a bunch of people who were friends of the owners came in to watch the game on the first floor. IIRC, the owners may live upstairs and are independently wealthy and running the venue for fun rather than profit, but I could be wrong on this one.

I went there a month ago and don't remember my exact order - I think it was a lentil dish, which I would describe as perfectly fine but not memorable (clearly). We were also given a free basket of I think cinnamon sugar naan? I didn't try any, but everyone else seemed to like them. It was not very busy, and they were fine with a large group lingering for a long time.

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Covering this place for Brightest Young Things on Wednesday...will be sure to report back with thoughts.

Just tried the naan burger and the pakoras (both of which they were pushing).  Short version:  Waste of calories.  Might try the dal or the Lahori chicken if I find myself there again . . . but I'm not rushing back.

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The Penn Quarter Naan Burger

"Flavorwise, this sandwich stacks up well, but its construction and temperature problems lead to an underwhelming result. Get separate orders of naan and samosas the next time you're at Grand Trunk and enjoy their crispiness instead."

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Just tried the naan burger and the pakoras (both of which they were pushing).  Short version:  Waste of calories.  Might try the dal or the Lahori chicken if I find myself there again . . . but I'm not rushing back.

Agreed on the pakoras - breading was waaay too thick, and I don't think eggplant and potato are the way to go with this idea. Kind of turns into a pile of mush. The crunchier vegetables were better, but they need a lighter hand on the breading. If you want hot and crispy to start, go with the garlic fries - super legit, salty, and diced real garlic, but not an overwhelming amount.

The Penn Quarter Naan Burger

"Flavorwise, this sandwich stacks up well, but its construction and temperature problems lead to an underwhelming result. Get separate orders of naan and samosas the next time you're at Grand Trunk and enjoy their crispiness instead."

Important to point out that the review is of "The Penn Quarter Naan Burger", which is a veggie burger. I can see how the potato and pea patty would fall apart in a format like this.

I had the regular Grand Trunk Naan Burger...gonna be honest - I kind of dug it. There was too much naan, no question, but you can rip the extra off - I liked the crunch of the lettuce and tomato, the mint chutney was a cool foil to the burger patties, and the beef actually tasted like beef (and was a perfect medium rare). I didn't *want* to like it, on principle, but I kept going back for one more bite. Then one more. Then one more. Etc.

Other good stuff was the Agra chicken tikka masala (loved the interplay between the sauce's subtle sweetness and hint of heat), and the savory naans.

Honestly, don't see myself coming in here a lot - I'm not in the Penn Quarter area enough. That said, they're super close to the Mall, they're opening up an outdoor patio / lounge / seating area soon, and they'll be selling house-made mango lassi and ice cream at a stand outside during the summer. This place is going to get crushed with tour groups and people wanting a quick bite for cheap just off the Mall. You could easily spend $10 on much worse food. And, for what its worth, the owners are two brothers who are DC natives; the only food items that ever see a freezer are the fries and ice cream; and any unused food at the end of the day goes to DC shelters.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the interior. It's f*cking absurd. Every bit of it. Garish design literally everywhere, TV's in the floor, a tux'ed doorman, and bidets in the bathrooms...at a fast casual place. DC needs a little kitsch every now and then, but whoa - take-out might be their game, at least until they build up a late night crowd. Also, no booze (booooooo).

Longer review will be up on BYT early next week if you want to see pics of their food.

Cheers!

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I had the regular Grand Trunk Naan Burger...gonna be honest - I kind of dug it. There was too much naan, no question, but you can rip the extra off - I liked the crunch of the lettuce and tomato, the mint chutney was a cool foil to the burger patties, and the beef actually tasted like beef (and was a perfect medium rare). I didn't *want* to like it, on principle, but I kept going back for one more bite. Then one more. Then one more. Etc.

 

There's absolutely *no* reason why even mediocre homemade naan cooked in a tandoor shouldn't be better than a Sysco hamburger bun. Right from the start, that gives Grand Trunk's Naan Burger a leg up on the competition. Is this mint chutney, or coriander chutney? If the latter, I picture that as being a wonderful dipping sauce (or, slathering sauce).

Just yesterday, I stopped by the ever-commercializing Moby Dick for a carryout Kabob-E Joojeh, and it came with a half-piece of their house-cooked pita which was cold and made earlier in the day. I remember thinking to myself, 'Even being cold and not straight from the oven, this is still better than 80% of restaurant bread.' The key with bread baked in a tandoor is to keep it from hardening; once it does, you're best-off using it for Yogurtlu-Kebab, or Chilaquiles, or any dish that takes what are essentially croutons.

What is it about unleavened bread that causes it to harden? Or, maybe I should ask, what is it about leavened bread that allows it to stay soft longer? Pita and Naan can be slightly raised, so I assume there's at least some leavening agents in them. Come to think of it, Amoo's homemade pita is fairly thick, and gets hard quickly (within an hour or two), so perhaps it has nothing to do with leavening - does it have something to do with being oil-free?

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There's absolutely *no* reason why even mediocre homemade naan cooked in a tandoor shouldn't be better than a Sysco hamburger bun. Right from the start, that gives Grand Trunk's Naan Burger a leg up on the competition. Is this mint chutney, or coriander chutney? If the latter, I picture that as being a wonderful dipping sauce (or, slathering sauce).

 

Mint chutney on the burger, but one of their dipping sauces is the bright green coriander chutney you mentioned. Actually, their entire dip game is on point - there were multiple, all made in house, and all available for free, as many as you want. The coriander chutney especially worked on the garlic fries (though what wouldn't, really? they're garlic fries), and a tamarind sauce they had was great with the dal dishes.

As to the naan, we were there for a media thing, so all the naan was coming fresh out the tandoor and was amazing. From what they told us, there's a chef specifically manning the tandoor during the day, ensuring warm and new naan throughout. Be interesting to see if that's really the case.

Cheers!

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As to the naan, we were there for a media thing, so all the naan was coming fresh out the tandoor and was amazing. From what they told us, there's a chef specifically manning the tandoor during the day, ensuring warm and new naan throughout. Be interesting to see if that's really the case.

You just *nailed* the problem with media dinners. There's nothing wrong with them, as long as they're disclosed as such (which you did); I just worry that the general public thinks restaurants are like hardware stores, and that all widgets are alike, regardless of whether it's holiday rush, or during a barren snowstorm (you can tell how much confidence I have in the general public).

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A visit to Grand Trunk last weekend - this time I ordered the Lahore Chicken. This was better than the lentil dish I had on my first visit, although weirdly all the hot pepper spiciness was at the very bottom of the bowl. The sauce was flavorful and the chicken was nicely cooked. The naan was hot and fresh although there were very few people in the restaurant when we first got there - it filled up with people around 1 pm and then emptied out again. For some reason the street level had no air conditioning while the lower level had the a/c on full blast.

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