Passage to India
4931 Cordell Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
Neighborhood: Bethesda/Glen Echo
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Indian
Daily for lunch and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Bethesda
Price Range: Moderate
Noise Level: Intimate
Sev-murmura chaat; samosa with chickpeas and yogurt; lamb cooked in the tandoor oven; shrimp in coconut curry; pickle plate; fresh mango with yogurt.
If you think of Indian food primarily as takeout from the neighborhood curry house, you’re missing the pleasures to be had in a restaurant that aspires to the first rank.
The dining room is decorated in gold and brass and adorned with royal prints. Servers seem to impersonate a concierge at a four-star hotel—spooning curries from copper pots, bringing seconds of cinnamon-flavored rice, and smiling all the while.
This could feel overdone if the food weren’t equal to the level of the attention, but the kitchen is more than capable. Take its saag—so good you might think you’d never tried the dish before. Most of the menu, however, is an enticement to break from the expected, and the fun is in exploring seldom-seen dishes of the East and West, including the coconut-rich flavors of Kerala. Don’t miss: Seekh kebab; pan-fried okra with mango powder; shrimp in coconut sauce; goat curry; potatoes with onions and curry leaf; garlic naan or kulcha; pickle platter; dal. Open: Daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate.