Supper Club of India

Elegant Indian Dining Comes to Herndon

It's not every restaurant that finds patrons getting up from the table to take a tour of the wall decorations, but that happens often at the Supper Club of India. Owner Naresh Advani, who boasts 28 years in the restaurant business, has collected dozens of photo portraits of Indian nabobs, princes, maharajahs, and maharanis that span a century. There are also exquisite photos of royal jewelry and daggers. All are beautifully displayed and lighted.

Advani's concern for the food is at least as great as for the decor. At most Indian restaurants the luncheon buffet is a routine event. At the Supper Club of India, every day brings something different. A half dozen vegetable and meat curries and other main courses are there for the taking. In three visits, only two dishes were duplicated–tandoor-cooked chicken tikka and one vegetarian curry. Even dishes not on the regular menu turn up on the buffet. At $8.95 on weekdays and two dollars more on weekends, it provides excellent value.

The menu is lengthy and creative. The Supper Club appetizer platter, suitable for two, is a bargain at $7.95. Seven of the appetizers appear on the platter, including hari bhari tikka, spiced vegetable, potato, and cottage cheese patties; onion bhajjia, onion and gram-flour fritters; murg pakora; and a vegetable samosa, all tasting freshly prepared. Two other treats are the shammi kebab, patties made of ground seasoned lamb, and bhel puri, a light mélange of crisp gram-flour vermicelli, potatoes, rice crisps, peanuts, and other ingredients served with a tamarind chutney.

Main courses are not cheap, ranging from $11.95 to $24.95, but diners get quality and quantity. Most of the food is only moderately spicy; some dishes, such as the tandoor preparations, are hotter than they usually are in India. The tandoor plays a central role at the Supper Club. Standard dishes are done well, including well-seasoned chicken both in pieces and as a half bird, lamb both in chunks and minced, and prawns. Add some less-familiar choices, such as lamb chops slathered with a combination of seasonings. Then there is the good lobster angara, first marinated in the shell in a red masala, then finished in the tandoor.

Other main courses are equally appealing. Nine each of chicken and lamb dishes appear on the menu, ranging from the fiery vindaloo made with a red chili and vinegar sauce to the mild palak, served with well-seasoned spinach. The gosht hara masala, lamb chunks in spicy green masala, showed very well. A special treat is the lamb or chicken badami, cooked in a mild almond-and-cream sauce, a combination that most diners would not expect to see in an Indian restaurant. Even more interesting are the lobster Nizami, chunks of lobster in a rich sauce that suggests an Indian-inspired lobster Newburg, and Shahjahani crab, lump crab almost dissolved in a soothing cream-and-butter sauce.

Fourteen vegetable dishes include pleasing Baingan Lajawab, baby eggplant stuffed with cottage cheese and dry fruits and served with a brown sauce; aloo methi, diced potatoes sautéed with fenugreek, onions, and tomatoes; and broccoli Gulistan, cooked in a cashew-and-cream sauce to which dry mint and tomatoes are added. The final category are the biryanis, a choice of meats or vegetables in saffron-flavored basmati rice that includes a range of Indian herbs and spices.

There is a good choice of Indian breads. Unlike most Indian restaurants, this one offers naan at no charge. If you want something more exotic, try the paratha stuffed with potatoes and green peas or the kulcha stuffed with minced lamb. Desserts, which include puddings and dumplings, are fine and soothing. Beverages include a range of Indian and domestic beers, yogurt-based lassi drinks, and wine.

Supper Club of India

13055 Worldgate Dr., Herndon; 703-736-0466. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Atmosphere: Elegant and friendly.

Food: A wide variety of Indian dishes that are very well prepared.

Service: Very good.

Price: Main courses at dinner and lunch, $11.95 to $24.95, with a good luncheon buffet at $8.95 weekdays and $10.95 weekends. Dinner for two: about $75.

Value: Good.

Bottom line: An appealing restaurant.