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Saveur India, Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda - Chef Anil Kumar Comes From Passage to India - Closed


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Opened by a former Passage to India chef, this small, inexpensive, counter-service shop needs to be on the DR radar. Was running some errands in Bethesda and we decided to stop here after reading the review in the Weekend section of Friday's Post.

I find samosas to be disappointing a lot of the time. The dough too thick and the filling bland, they are saved only by the chutneys. However, I could have eaten the samosas here on their own. The dough was light and crisp and the potato filling was nicely spiced. Some of the best I've had. The tandoori chicken wrap was excellent due to the moist, spicy chicken that seemed to be right out of the tandoor. Looking forward to trying some of the entrees on the menu. If I worked anywhere near Bethesda, I'd be all over that lunch special.

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My wife and I have been getting carry-out once or twice per month. The quality/price ratio is excellent--the prices are low and, as the Post review states, the food is a cut above most low-priced Indian carry-out. I usually get the butter chicken and ask for a little extra heat. The chicken is juicy and flavorful and the sauce is rich--not quite Passage to India rich, but good nonetheless. My wife usually has the kabobs and has been very pleased. With each of us getting a main and rice and naan, with one side to share, the price is generally a tick over twenty bucks.

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I don't mean to steal Sudhir's formidable thunder, but circumstances dictated informal Bethesda takeout tonight, and Saveur India fit the bill in a big way.

Paalak Panneer ($9.00), Baghaare Baingan ($9.50), Raita ($2.50), Achaar ($1.00), Naan ($2.00), and Onion Kulcha ($3.00) were all much better than your standard Sunday-night Indian carryout. However, the Aalu Gobhi Masaala ($9.00) may have been the best I've ever eaten - the cauliflower was cooked with great skill, and the end product surpassed its humble components.

Chef Kumar tried his best not to jump in and help in the kitchen - he was messing around on the computer in an otherwise empty restaurant - but he couldn't contain himself, and ended up looking like a cross between Gillian Clark and Tom Power manning the well-worn pans. He took charge of his stoves to fill my order, and it was a pleasure to have his cooking.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I don't mean to steal Sudhir's formidable thunder, but circumstances dictated informal Bethesda takeout tonight, and Saveur India fit the bill in a big way.

Paalak Panneer ($9.00), Baghaare Baingan ($9.50), Raita ($2.50), Achaar ($1.00), Naan ($2.00), and Onion Kulcha ($3.00) were all much better than your standard Sunday-night Indian carryout. However, the Aalu Gobhi Masaala ($9.00) may have been the best I've ever eaten - the cauliflower was cooked with great skill, and the end product surpassed its humble components.

Chef Kumar tried his best not to jump in and help in the kitchen - he was messing around on the computer in an otherwise empty restaurant - but he couldn't contain himself, and ended up looking like a cross between Gillian Clark and Tom Power manning the well-worn pans. He took charge of his stoves to fill my order, and it was a pleasure to have his cooking.

Cheers,
Rocks.

I am very happy to see Anil's cooking and business taking off. It gives me great satisfaction to see Anil grow in this profession and in his skills. He was always a quick study and he deserves the fame that he has received of late in his venture. I learnt quite a few of his native Andhra dishes while he was working at Passage to India.
Best wishes and Good luck Anil.

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Really? Granted it's been four years since the last post, but boy was I disappointed in a recent dinner at Saveur India. Nothing was bad, but it was perhaps the most unidimensional, uninteresting Indian food I've ever tasted. We ordered a few benchmark dishes (a frequent strategy) and I all I could think was that there were at least three places within a very short distance that could do better.

On the other hand I was delighted to find a sweet, fresh rendtiion of rasmalai, even though it had been heated. Unevenly heated. As in, one side of the dish was noticeably cold, the other side quite warm.

Can anyone out there tell me it's worth trying again?

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I would choose this over Saveur India in a heartbeat [Don, in italics, really?]

[Really! It's not a slam dunk by any means, but I've been 2-3 times and see no controversy with this ranking unless there's been a change of ownership or something.]

How many times have you been? If once, it's quite possible that the chef was absent when you went.

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[Really! It's not a slam dunk by any means, but I've been 2-3 times and see no controversy with this ranking unless there's been a change of ownership or something.]

How many times have you been? If once, it's quite possible that the chef was absent when you went.

Only once. And as I said, there are at least three Indian restaurants very close by that I believe are much better, so unless someone provides a compelling reason I probably won't go again.

ps have you been since the (two year old) review you linked to?

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ps have you been since the (two year old) review you linked to?

I think I went once in early 2012 (someone I know was taking Tae Kwon Do there, and Saveur India was a great convenience), but this is why I asked about a possible "change of ownership." Anil Kumar did not all of a sudden forget how to cook (scroll up and look at Sudhir's post), and if he's still in the kitchen, your visit is quite possibly a one-off; if he's not, then things have changed. I know your palate, and am certain you had a bad meal - my post wasn't any type of challenge; it was a request for additional information (for possible downgrade). Thing is though, despite only 20% (or so) of independents being Italic, the bar to be there really isn't *that* high. Like so many mom-n-pops, there might just be one good cook, and if that cook is absent, then all bets are off.

And when I think of all the restaurants I haven't been to in the last two years, it's humbling - I had the entire DC area mastered for a period of several years; no longer (except academically). I'm trying to play catch-up, but it's quite a challenge given the number of openings we've had. Thing is though, I think the general quality of restaurants in this area has deteriorated to the point where I'm not even sure I *want* to master things again, at least not to the level where I had it before. Everyone says DC has become a great restaurant town; I think it's been heading in the opposite direction ever since the recession started.

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I think I went once in early 2012 (someone I know was taking Tae Kwon Do there, and Saveur India was a great convenience), but this is why I asked about a possible "change of ownership." Anil Kumar did not all of a sudden forget how to cook (scroll up and look at Sudhir's post), and if he's still in the kitchen, your visit is quite possibly a one-off; if he's not, then things have changed. I know your palate, and am certain you had a bad meal - my post wasn't any type of challenge; it was a request for additional information (for possible downgrade). Thing is though, despite only 20% (or so) of independents being Italic, the bar to be there really isn't *that* high. Like so many mom-n-pops, there might just be one good cook, and if that cook is absent, then all bets are off.

And when I think of all the restaurants I haven't been to in the last two years, it's humbling - I had the entire DC area mastered for a period of several years; no longer (except academically). I'm trying to play catch-up, but it's quite a challenge given the number of openings we've had. Thing is though, I think the general quality of restaurants in this area has deteriorated to the point where I'm not even sure I *want* to master things again, at least not to the level where I had it before. Everyone says DC has become a great restaurant town; I think it's been heading in the opposite direction ever since the recession started.

An ever-increasing number of mediocre restaurants? I think you're right. And how many places have gone the Citronelle--->Central route?

But back on topic: I know you weren't challenging me, and I wasn't challenging you. :) I really was just curious if you had more recent info. I was just thinking about stopping in for lunch today, but Monday lunch might be the very worst time to try a place, so it'll have to wait.

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Didn't they close months ago? On April 8th, someone on the neighborhood listserv said they'd seen a sign on the door saying "Closed permanently. Thanks and sorry." Prior to that, speculation had been that the ongoing construction had cost them business.

We, also, had the one-totally-mediocre meal experience there in February, i think.

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Didn't they close months ago? On April 8th, someone on the neighborhood listserv said they'd seen a sign on the door saying "Closed permanently. Thanks and sorry." Prior to that, speculation had been that the ongoing construction had cost them business.

We, also, had the one-totally-mediocre meal experience there in February, i think.

Yep, they sure did, and there's yet another Indian-restaurant mystery that's logically reconciled.

I'm going to go ahead and give porcupine the benefit of the doubt, and *not* retire Saveur India in Italic, under the assumption that it did indeed go downhill before it closed, and it should have been downgraded.

If anyone finds out where Anil Kumar landed, can they let us know?

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