We’re fans of Indian food but we’ve never really ventured out to try authentic Indian food at a real Indian restaurant. Last January, on my birthday, we drove by Guru Restaurant & Bar and I decided I wanted to go there for my birthday dinner later that day; however, true to form, I’d changed my mind by dinner time (probably partly intimidated by the unknown) and had decided what I really wanted was Italian food so we went to Piccolino Italian Bistro instead.*
Anyway, yesterday we decided to be a little bit adventurous for dinner. With a little back and forth, I suggested we finally try Guru. This was the best dinner choice we’ve made in QUITE some time.
The place: Guru Restaurant & Bar
The address: 17021 100 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB
The style: Fine Indian Cuisine
The cost: $25-30 per person
As amateurs on the Indian food scene, we weren’t really sure what to expect when we got there but we were excited to see what they had to offer. The sign is actually what caught my attention the first time I saw it; it’s a beautiful orange modern representation of Indian henna art. As a designer, I can’t help but take note of how beautifully simple it is. The feeling you get from the logo continues as you walk into the restaurant where you’re greeted by subtle Indian art and gorgeous dark wood and the atmosphere is instantly luscious and comfortable.
We’d read that making a reservation was a good idea on weekends and we’re really glad we took that suggestion. At 6:30 there were already several tables seated and most of the remaining tables had ‘reserved’ signs on them. We were sat at a table near a window and were greeted by our waitress shortly thereafter. She took our drink order and left us to spend some time with the menu after she brought our rather boring order of two diet cola’s. When she came back to check in on us, I asked what their most popular dish was and what her favorite was. She said that Butter Chicken was without a doubt their most popular but that her favorite, Chicken Korma was getting up there as well. I asked her what the difference was and she said the sauce was a little spicier and slightly more flavourful. When she came back a few minutes earlier we had decided on Chicken Korma and Pork Bhuna as our proteins and ordered some Coconut Rice and Garlic Naan to accompany. Let me tell you right off the bat, they were ALL delicious choices and we’re pretty confident that anything else we had ordered (and there was plenty more that caught our eye) would have been just as awesome.
The chicken korma was an amazing dish that brings the word comforting to mind. They used chicken thigh meat which is a welcome choice for us as we prefer thigh meat to breast because it’s slightly more flavourful. The chicken had a light sear on the outside but the tenderness of the meat made it obvious that it had been simmered in the sauce for at least a little while. The sauce was described as a ‘creamy cashew nut gravy’ and it was nothing short of delicious. The main spice used in korma is coriander, giving it a nutty, spicy and citrusy flavour all at the same time. The sauce was delightfully creamy with a nice hint of spice, making it my favorite of the two dishes but I’m biased based on spice.
The pork bhuna was also an amazing dish (just a tad spicy for me but I still managed to eat a healthy amount of it!). The pork was pieces of tenderloin and yes, it truly was tender! The sauce was a traditional onion and tomato based gravy with the added taste of ginger. The flavours worked so well together – Paul said he thought it was almost like an Indian pasta sauce. The bhuna was hearty and definitely left us feeling warm inside! After ordering, I was eavesdropping on the table behind us and the server told them that they could order it to the spice of their preference (always a good thing to offer your guests!). Although I would have liked a little less spice, I know that Paul most certainly enjoyed it just the way it was!
The naan and rice weren’t just things to have on the side either. The naan was a beautiful light texture with the nice buttery flavour that you expect from naan; it was warm and crispy and had been brushed with oil and garlic before being baked. It was delicious both on its own and as a vessel for any leftover sauce. The rice was also a wonderful accompaniment! It came out smelling incredible and when we took the spoon to it to dish up we were in awe over how fluffy it was! White basmati rice, perfectly cooked with sweetened shredded coconut made a PERFECT compliment to both of our spicy dishes! The combinations worked incredibly well and we were very happy with our choice of rice.
To finish things off, we had a look at the desert menu. I mentioned to Paul that I had never had rice pudding before so it was settled, we ordered the “Guru Dual Delight Firini”. We didn’t realize that it wasn’t traditional rice pudding but instead a silky version. It came in mango and strawberry and both were delicious. I’d still like to try traditional rice pudding so I’m going to request that Paul make it for me some time. I’d say this was the lowest note of the meal but that speaks volumes considering the waitress had to ask if we wanted to lick the pudding dish clean! Haha!
Throughout our meal, we were asked a few times how the food was – once or twice by our server, once by Chef Deependra Singh himself, and once by the manager. Each time, the person asking had a smile on their face and were confident that we would be enjoying. It really gave us a sense that they really care about their restaurant and especially their food. We love the idea that the Chef peruses the dining room to chat a bit with the guests and tell them about their food. The table behind us had a sampling tray of some kind and the chef actually took the time to explain the flavours in each dish and to say a bit about what region of India they came from… how cool!
For anyone who thinks they like Indian food but is not quite sure they’re ready to dive into it, make your way to Guru and you certainly won’t regret it. It’s slightly more pricey than we’d normally spend but at about $25-30 per person, we thought it was well worth the money and after a wonderful meal, we’re already looking forward to going back to Guru! Next time we’d like to go with a few other people because we’re certain that ordering more than two dishes can’t possibly be a bad thing!
*Side note: Piccolino was delicious but that’s a post for another day.