How do you know if high praise of dining critics is for real? Well, would they go back, and if so how soon?
No doubt about that with Mt. Everest Restaurant at 804 Eglinton, west of Laird.
“To be honest, I returned a couple of nights later to try other dishes, so clearly the food was a success,” said Leeanne Koczka, Millwood Rd.,
J.D. Singh, co-owner of Sleuth of Baker Street on Millwood Rd., wrote, “As there are so many items on the menu that I wanted to try, two of us went back a few nights later… May they live long and prosper. I certainly plan on visiting regularly.”
Marian Misters, also co-owner of Sleuth of Baker Street, discussing the Farsi Ko Tarkari zucchini main dish, wrote, “This is a dish I think will become one of my regulars here at Mt. Everest.”
Koczka had another measure for success:
“You cannot have Indian food and not have naan… and each Indian restaurant can be judged by how theirs turn out. Mt. Everest’s naan bread was freshly made (we could actually hear it being prepared in the kitchen), sweet and fluffy. I could have snacked on that just on its own.”
Singh also had another measure: “Two of the three of us are vegetarians and Northern Indian (Punjabi, my younger brother would correct me) is my favourite cuisine. It was fun to learn of the differences between Punjabi and Nepalese approaches to similar dishes.
“As the waiter told us, the Nepalese versions use less fat and butter than the Punjabi versions, but the Jhane Ko Dal (a lentil dish) tasted wonderfully rich and flavourful. I did not at all feel deprived.”
It is, said Misters, “a mix of yellow lentils sautéed with cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, tomato and onions. It was bursting with flavour, light and soupy, perfect for pouring over the peas pulou rice (which was fluffy and lightly flavoured with saffron).”
The diners started with three appetizers, mixed vegetable pakora, vegetable samosa and paneer tikka, which Misters described as homemade cottage cheese marinated with spices and roasted in a clay oven.
“The pakora and samosa were sort of average but the paneer tikka, well, I could have eaten the whole plate (and it arrived on a sizzling platter). It was aromatic, full of flavour and delicious,” she said.
Singh: “Where my initial reaction was to say that I prefer the Punjabi versions of all three, I wasn’t quite so sure the next day when I was scarfing down the leftovers of these appetizers. The samosa tasted baked, not fried, and that’s probably to the good.”
Koczka: “Paneer tikka and tandoori grilled veggies (ordered as a main dish) arrived sizzling and delicious. The portions were great for sharing. In fact, after all was said and done the food didn’t leave me with the usual heavy feeling from a large meal.
“Chicken tikka masala was smothered in a rich sauce that had a subtle hint of rose water, with large pieces of meat. The chicken was cooked in the tandoori oven so seemed a tad bit dry at first, but it was worth the added flavour to the dish.
“I liked that you can control the level of spiciness to either heat things up or avoid tears during dinner. The menu is extensive and I was pleased to see at least 23 vegetarian options.”
Misters: “The aloo gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower sautéed with Indian spices) was tasty, tender and not overcooked either. I loved it.”
Not everything was perfect.
Singh: “The only miss all evening, alas, was the aloo paratha. It should be light, crisp, delicate, not, chewy and stodgy as this was. Expecting anyone to make them as well as my mom does is asking for the impossible, but this also tasted like whole wheat flour had been used and that will certainly change the taste and texture. I’ll give it another try the next time, just to be sure.”
Koczka: “Fried appetizers were tasty but not a good choice if you’re trying to cut grease from your diet. I found the veggie samosas to have a moderate pepper spice to it and of good size.
“The veggie pakoras were shredded vegetables formed into roundish patties and reminded me of latkes. Not a bad thing just not the individually battered vegetables I’m used to. Next time I’ll just skip the apps and go straight to the mains.”
But, she adds: “This eatery is a neighbourhood gem. I’m so glad to have found it.
“Come summer I’d be curious to try the outdoor patio while enjoying some of the main dishes.”