Wednesday, January 9, 2008
2601 S IH 35 B400
Round Rock TX 78664
512 - 244 - 2222
Hey. Laura reviewing from Round Rock again.
Lately I’ve been having a severe craving for Indian food. I’ve been day dreaming at work about tikka masala for days now. I even planned to satisfy my craving yesterday at lunch, until I realized the reason I couldn’t find my keys was because I had taken my car to the shop to get the oil changed and I had to jump on whatever lunch bandwagon my coworkers were on. But today. Today was the day I was going to make it happen.
I didn’t want to go far. I didn’t have the energy or patience for driving and dealing with traffic, and there was an Indian restaurant close by that I had not tried yet. I’d been there once before, but turned away when I realized it was a buffet. I always get the raw deal at buffets. I don’t eat that much in a single session. Plus, I’ve been scarred for life from those 4 months I worked as a cashier at Golden Corral as a teenager. I would stand at my station, pretending to rearrange cups and to-go plates, watching the post church crowd graze like cattle. They were bent over to examine the slop, swaying back and forth as they traversed the troughs. The thought of it still makes me shutter. But I had been convinced to try the buffet once at Madras Pavillion on 183 near Burnet and was fairly pleased with that, so Chola deserved a chance too, right?
I walked in, a lone diner with a book and asked how much the buffet was. I was told $8.99 and was seated immediately. I asked to see a menu, just to make sure I wouldn’t rather order a meal. The menu prices for meals were mostly $7.99 to $9.99, so I figured this might be worth the buffet to try lots of different things. I sucked up my buffet prejudice and hit the troughs.
Now keep in mind that I’m a Westerner reviewing an Indian food restaurant. I’ve never been to India. I’m not sure what makes Indian food authentic, but I do know what tastes good.
The selection was really wonderful for vegetarian eating. 2/3rds of the buffet contained vegetarian items and the meat dishes (chicken, lamb, goat, etc) were grouped neatly together at the end.
Two different soups were offered, a brothy soup with chunks of tomato and a spicy and flavorful soup with lentils and onions. The latter was definitely the more exciting of the two. It was very flavorful and on the edge of my spice comfort level. Both soups were tasty, but neither rocked my world.
Oh well, on to the rest. The onion pakora was really good in a comfort food sort of way. But, as Mariah and I have discussed, everything tastes great fried. The buffet also contained Saag Paneer- spinach and cottage cheese blended with cream. It warranted seconds. As did the Aloo Gobhi curry- potatoes and cauliflower cooked w/ onions and tomatoes. There were curried beans that were mediocre. And a fabulous mushroom dish with an amazing creamy sauce. Dare I say it tasted like it was cooked in wine? That can’t be right. I have to find out that secret ingredient.
The basmati rice was just perfect.
For dessert, the rice pudding was amazing with the fresh fruit. I braved a steamed cream cheese patty (Rasmalai). It could be my uncultured taste buds, but I’ll pass on it next time.
The waitstaff was friendly, one even kindly came by to tell me that there was yogurt if the spice was too much for me (which it wasn’t). And best of all, they served me water without ice. I didn’t even have to ask for it this way.
And in true buffet fashion, I completely stuffed myself.
All in all, a good experience. Chola is a pleasant surprise for a strip mall restaurant in the Round Rock area and a good lunch spot, if you are up for a little gorging.