From the moment we crossed the threshold of India Quality (IQ), we were inundated with a show of the high quality ambiance to which they lay claim in their name. With its high value locale near bustling Kenmore Square of Fenway fame, IQ is situated amidst many prestigious Boston gastronomical institutions (although, the abandoned building directly next door might provide opportunities for illicit postprandial activities). The interior matched expectations, with pleasing non-descript Bollywood music, aggressively good service, and décor complete with a wall of filmless mirrors (!). However, IQ’s seemingly prestigious name was, in a sense, particularly applicable to the bathrooms, which were more reminiscent of the dank, Indian-quality bathrooms that are so often filled with the sounds and odors of the “non-legacy” world.†
Aside from aesthetics and ambiance, our adventures into Indian fine dining began with selecting things to order. While IQ’s website quotes a Zagat review claiming that patrons often dream of “being buried in sea of saag paneer,” we instead found ourselves being buried under the weight of the extensive menu (we were unable to confirm or deny whether this was made possible by pervasive usage of packets), which included chef’s special dishes “made only with chicken”—we presumed the non-special chicken offerings contained…other meat?
Though it was nearly impossible to arrive at a consensus, we persevered and choose a wide selection of items. These included more traditional items like samosas and pakoras (both $4, non-greasy, but could have been crisper), non-pie-filling Peshwari NaN ($3.5), malai kofta ($14, creamy with high quality kofta), and saag paneer ($14, excellent, but perhaps not something we would literally dive into). Some unique items that we chose reminded us of exquisite diner food—perhaps unexpected from an Indian restaurant—such as the coconut soup ($3, which tasted surprisingly similar to a liquid Mounds bar without the chocolate), blueberry NaN ($4, made with real blueberries and very reminiscent of blueberry buckwheat pancakes from Chat’s childhood), spinach poori ($4, plasmatically hot but lacking in the expected puff and texture), and garlic chicken ($14, extremely garlicky, but due to the heterogeneous chicken cookitude was probably the least whelming dish we tried). The standard mango lassi ($3) had ice, but was acceptably viscous. The meal topper, earning IQ its quality rating, was the eigendish aloo gobhi ($13) which had acceptable cookitude of both potatoes and cauliflower, and may well have had good taste, except that this was masked by its extreme spice levels that succeeded in giving Yogi extremity vibrations!
Our meal ended with a reminder of the superbness we had come to anticipate from IQ—a plate of chilled Andes mints, which was readily replenished upon Yogi’s shameless request. In what can only be a nod to the upmarket quality of our meal, our check refrained from betraying the identity of the complimentary items, and instead printed “???????????????????” followed by “$0.00”—although the other prices were clearly stated, warranting a two-rupee (₨ ₨) price tag for the solidly four-samosa (▲▲▲▲) fare. Finally, to ensure that a good taste remained upon our palates as we departed, we were wished bon voyage at the door by a well stocked candy tray in lieu of the usual healthy fennel seeds. Although not quite reaching the nirvana befitting a sea of saag paneer, we slept soundly that night, dreaming of non-legacy food served in a distinguished legacy setting.
Thanks to Nina, Robert, Athma, and Peter, the Road Review crew in Boston, Mass. And special thanks to Athma, our first guest Road Reviewer!