Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Raj Darbar in Lincoln Park

Raj Darbar
2660 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
p: 773-348-1010

Ok, first off, I admit we decided to try this restaurant because Tandoor was only accepting reservations for the entire night. Look out for that review when I make a reservation for next month.

As we walked in Raj Darbar, the lack of aroma usually associated with Indian restaurants was a bit strange, yet it didn't put a damper on my excitement.

We were seated in a very nice booth and at first glance, the place seemed semi-fancy. However, upon further inspection, it had more of a “basement-turned-restaurant” look and feel. It seemed like the owners' goal was to be an elegant eatery, but then they opted for cheaper property, floor tiling, and d├ęcor.

Initially, the service was stupendous. They were quick to take our order and the food arrived in a flash. However, as the crowds gradually filed in, the service ended up being pretty terrible. The wait staff seemed to have good intentions, but they lacked professionalism and it seemed like they were just a bunch of kids working for their parents. Once the room was filled, they stopped being attentive.

Tandoori Chicken

Now onto the important stuff – food! Since my mango lassi partner in crime, Joe, is currently on a no-carb, no-nothing diet, I was pretty much tasked with eating majority of the food. In any case, this would be an ideal situation, however the food (to be totally blunt) was disappointing. We ordered tandoori chicken, which came out pipin' hot on a sizzling plate. The chicken was satisfactory, but nothing that I haven't tasted before. I was hoping my taste buds would be enveloped with alluring spices, but was only left with an average bird on a hot plate.

We paired the chicken with rice and “spicy” vegetable curry (note the quotations on spicy). It consisted of a bland mix of cauliflower, peas, carrots, and potatoes. Lastly, the naan...oh the naan! I never thought naan could actually be bad at a restaurant, but this was kind of...bad. It was strangely chewy and seemed like it was just rewarmed in the microwave. Very disappointing.

Vegetable Curry and Naan

Sounds pathetic right? That's what we thought. We decided to see if there was anything on the menu that could provide some type of redemption. What better way to do that other than to order some dessert! We ordered Ras Malai, which are cheese patties soaked in coconut milk, sprinkled with pistachio and cardamom. It was absolutely delicious. Eating this delectable dessert was the most enjoyable moment out of the entire experience. It lessened the negativity surrounding this restaurant.

I'll hand off to Joe to discuss the mango lassi, but all in all, the experience was a little less than stellar. With average food and portion sizes, Raj Darbar will most likely survive as a less than notable restaurant, but should be careful as there are other competing Indian establishments right in the neighborhood.

Joe's Mango Lassi Review– Overall, the lassi was pretty good. Iced down to a good temperature and holding a tangy taste, I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5. It could've been a larger portion and lacked a certain richness that is usually associated with the mango drink.

So what's the score? (Out of 5)

Price: $$ ($12-16 per entree)
Service: 2.0
Ambiance: 2.0
Food: 2.5
Overall Rating: 2.2


  1. Sounds like a dud.

    Bring your A-game to review the food at my wedding next week! Beef Korma (my fav dish), Tandoori chicken, Saag Paneer, Paneer Tikka Masala (my other fav), plus pakoras, samosas, and naan.

  2. India House was recommended to me as someone's favorite indian in the area, if you want to give it a shot.

  3. Hi, Cool blog (saw it on reddit).

    Keep the posts coming. I'm new to Chicago and love Indian food. Here are some places I've visited, and would be interested in your take on. Also looking for new places to go.

    In the loop/near there:
    - bombay wraps - fast food indian, totally tasty.
    - curried (equivalent to cheap chinese. fast cheap, not great indian)
    - india house - typical buffet. seems to be pretty high quality.
    - bombay spice ... totally tasty, but expensive

    naan - no frills, super tasty. kinda a dive, but it's nice and cheap.
    mt. everest - evanston. expensive but tasty indian and nepalese.

    I haven't tried many places on devon, so I am curious about reviews about them.