Comments () | Published October 18, 2006
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Minerva Indian Cuisine - Chantilly
Address: 14513-B Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Chantilly, VA 20151
Phone: 703-378-7778
Neighborhood: Chantilly/Centreville/Clifton
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Indian
Opening Hours: Open Monday through Thursday 11:30 to 10, Friday thought Sunday noon to 10:30.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Paneer pakora, fried fritters of paneer cheese in a lightly spiced lentil coating; sambar, a tangy Tamil tamarind soup that accompanies dosas and other southern dishes; lakhnavi methi kheema, ground lamb in a sauce laced with fenugreek leaves; masala dosa
Special Features:
Kid Friendly

June 2006 Cheap Eats

At night, the drop-down screen in the Fairfax dining room of these Indian standbys flickers with Bollywood-style videos. Diners can't resist looking up from their curries and biryanis to watch the sinuous, colorfully clad dancers while cooling their mouths.

At lunchtime, the screen goes up--and no wonder: The buffet is show enough.

The restaurant has established two stations to handle the dizzying and mostly delicious array of dishes--dosas, samosas, pakoras, curries, biryanis, tandoori meats, breads--and the hungry hordes that stream through the doors on weekdays for one of the area's best bargains at $8.95 a person.

Given the pride of place the restaurant accords its buffet, it's probably to be expected that dinner is a less-rewarding experience. Cooking in large, mess-hall-size batches, the kitchen tends to accumulate a backlog of items that never make it out to the buffet, some of which find their way into dishes later in the day. And what might constitute fine service at a buffet, where minimal attention is to be expected, can feel like neglect come dinner time.

Still, the cooking is generally full of bite and heat and depth, and the curries, brought to the table in little copper pots, are all worthwhile. And Minerva is one of the few restaurants in the area with an Indian/Chinese menu--a separate slate of dishes well worth exploring.

Appetizers $3.95 to $7.95; entrées $8.95 to $13.95; buffet $8.95 weekdays, $10.95 weekends. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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Posted at 03:32 PM/ET, 10/18/2006 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews