Food That’s Sure to Please at LaZeezJanuary 24, 2011
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal at an Indian restaurant. Obviously some places do certain dishes better than others, and sometimes one or two of the items may not be great, but overall I don’t recall ever walking away and not wanting to return. With the plethora of Indian restaurants in the Albany area, one might think at some point one of these places will just have bad food. Since so many of the items on Indian menus are the same, the trick is how well the chefs cook them. We tried the fairly new LaZeez Restaurant on Central Ave. (the former home of Shalimar), and we were happy to find that the good food tradition is continuing.
It was somewhat busy at 6:30 on a Friday night, and after being seated we were asked if we wanted the $10 buffet, but we elected to order off the menu. We did glance at the buffet; it had about 10 items, and all the other patrons were eating from it, but we wanted to try some of the more interesting dishes on the menu.
We started with the samosa chat, featuring chickpeas, potatoes and “crushed samosa” in a tamarind yogurt sauce, served at room temperature. It was delicious – the sauce was sweet and spicy, and the chickpeas and potatoes were perfectly tender. The “crushed samosa” was little bits of fried breading, but it was pretty sparse throughout the dish – a little more would have been nice for texture, but we’d definitely order this again.
Being a Pakistani-Indian eatery (as most around here are), there were several beef items on the menu, along with the usual soups, seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetarian specialties that you’d find in similar restaurants. We tried the following: chicken tandoori, malai kofta, chana masala, palak paneer, dal makhani, and garlic naan. Chicken tandoori is one of my all-time favorite foods, and LaZeez does it well enough, but I’ve had much better elsewhere. The spices were average, and the breast meat was a little dry. But even mediocre chicken tandoori is better than most chicken dishes. The other dishes were all vegetarian; the malai kofta (vegetable balls made with carrots, potatoes and cashews in a cheese sauce) had the consistency of meatballs. They were pretty good, and the sauce was a nice accompaniment. The chana masala (chickpeas and potatoes in a tomato-cream sauce) was spectacular – the potatoes and chickpeas were cooked flawlessly, and the sauce was full of flavor. Palak paneer (spinach with cheese cubes) is an item we order at every Indian restaurant, and LaZeez’ version was not bad. The flavors were very good, but it could have used more cheese. The dal makhani (lentils in a creamy butter sauce) was very good – the lentils soaked up the rich sauce beautifully. The garlic naan (Indian bread stuffed with garlic) was great – not too dry, with little nuggets of garlic throughout.
The downside to the experience was the service. Despite the fact that every other table was helping themselves to the buffet, the staff seemed to ignore us more than necessary. At one point after we ordered, one server asked us if we wanted to order anything, as though he thought we were just hanging out for no reason. And with everyone else eating at the buffet, our food seemed to take longer to arrive than it should have (at one point we began to regret not choosing the buffet, for hunger’s sake). But once it did, we were very satisfied.
The prices are extremely reasonable for the quality and quantity. The appetizers are all under $5, and the entrees range from $9-$11 (seafood items are a few dollars more) and come with a plentiful amount of buttery rice. We would go back for the dinner buffet, and they do have a $7 lunch buffet as well.
LaZeez means “delicious” in Arabic, and while the service may be a little lacking, the food lives up to the name.
The Mouse House Kitchen gives LaZeez 3.5 out of 5 stars!