My husband is not the biggest fan of Valentine's Day. He prefers meaningful gifts to flowers and heartfelt expressions of love to cheesy cards. I don't blame him, but a little romanticism never hurt. (He came through for me this year.)
And while we certainly enjoy the classy Italian restaurant with dim candle light and overpriced wine, we went a less traditional route for our Valentine's dinner -- Indian food.
I love Indian food, having been practically adopted by an immigrant family in our church as a kid. The mom loved to feed me naan and whatever else she had on hand, and the smell of curry takes me back to sitting in her kitchen, 8 years old. My husband is a recent convert, but as a lover of spicy food and rice, he has taken to it well.
We chose Taj Mahal (111 E Lake St., Bloomingdale) based on its proximity and good reviews on Yelp. I guess nobody else had the idea to eat Indian food on Friday the 13th, because we were basically alone for our meal, with a few takeout customers coming in and two women coming to eat in as we were leaving.
The service was very good, as you would hope. We chose cashew nut rolls as an appetizer -- these were a delightful combination of mashed potatoes rolled in a crispy finely-ground nut mixture. Think mozzarella sticks with potato inside instead.
My husband chose chicken vindaloo, a spicy dish that had just enough heat for his tastes, and I had a tandoori chicken dish that had been marinated in ginger, garlic and yogurt with onion, tomato and green bell pepper. We shared saffron rice and it came with a basket of naan.
The food was delicious, with incredibly tender chicken and perfectly-made rice. The flavor was great on my dish, and my husband's managed to be both very flavorful and quite spicy at once. We had plenty left over and finished it for lunch on Sunday.
Decor-wise, Taj Mahal is basic but nice. Everything was clean and there were a variety of motel-style landscapes on the walls. The strip mall it's in (at the corner of Lake and Bloomingdale) is very quiet, so parking is unlikely to be any problem. The menu features a variety of vegetarian, chicken, lamb and seafood dishes. (Notice that no Indian restaurant ever serves beef?:))
Taj Mahal features a buffet during lunch hours and has a decent wine list and variety of imported Indian beers. We'll absolutely be back to this quiet spot, and I hope they do enough business at other times to stay open!