Tired of turkey talk? Good, me too. Let’s get back to non-gravy soaked food.
Food like warm, spicy Indian food. I love Indian Food. Love it. I’m sad to say that in my year and a half here in Cincinnati, I haven’t tried one Indian restaurant. NOT ONE.
A travesty for sure. So imagine my supreme over-excitement when I was able to try
Mantra on the Hill a couple of weeks ago with some friends.
Mantra on the Hill is billed as a contemporary Indian restaurant. This is not your mama’s Indian food (unless, of course, you’re Indian, in which, it’s probably darn close).
Let me say that my terrible pictures are not doing this magic justice; not at all.
This was fresh, delicious and so incredibly flavorful. Don’t let my photography stop you from eating what will be one of the best meals you can eat in Cincinnati. Real talk.
We started with Vegetable Potli: Crispy potato and pea purses.
Date-tamarind sauce. Mint chutney.
These were delightful; light and crisp with a deliciously spiced potato/pea filling.
Do you love the mint chutney served in the cucumber round? Adorable.
Next up, we shared the Coconut Scallops: Diver scallops, toasted coriander, coconut, curry leaf, tomato ragout
I never think of seafood with Indian food for some reason; but this was excellent. The ragout was just a happy background to the perfectly cooked scallops. I really enjoyed this.
Next up was the Papri Chaat: Garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, tamarind yogurt, chickpea vermicelli, chaat masala
I LOVED this. I could have eaten this for dinner and been happy. The pomegranates added such a bright pop of sweetness, and the chickpea vermicelli was so crunchy with the smoothness of the potatoes/tomatoes. This was a texture bonanza. Loved it.
We decided to try two entrees; one meat-based and one vegetarian.
Murgh Dhaniwal: Boneless chicken, caramelized onion, cilantro, white-pepper cashew sauce
This was so rich, but somehow so light. Seriously, this was fresh tasting; not heavy or greasy at all. Just bite after bite of rich, savory goodness. I wanted to run away with the container. Weird?
And for the vegetarian options, we sampled the Gobi Charchari: Cauliflower, green peas, cherry tomatoes, garlic confit, panch puran
This was crisp and dare I say, zesty? If you hate cauliflower; you won’t hate this. It was like cauliflower-based fried deliciousness. I could not keep my fork out of this.
In both entrees, the rice was cooked perfectly, as expected.
No Indian meal is complete without naan, and we tried their signature version. I loved that this was very thin and not too doughy. It leaves room for more rice!
Somehow, we had room to try dessert, Lemon thyme tart: Lemon, thyme, cashew crust
This was shockingly tart; but a perfect finish to such a savory meal. The crust was more like a cookie versus a tart crust; which is definitely my preference.
I cannot tell you how absolutely delicious everything was. I could not resist “one more bite” of everything. 47 times. In addition to outstanding food, the restaurant is comfortable, simply decorated and the service was excellent.
Mantra on the Hill is an amazing experience.
Get yourself there (and take me as your date).