Amber-ific (Amber India -- Mountain View, CA)
Jon and I have been together nine years. And until last Friday, I don't think we'd ever eaten Indian food together. How lame is that? I've been alone or with friends and he...well, he went once with some friends while I was out of town and was so horrified by the raisins in his dish that he's had nightmares about it for five years.
I trapped him into trying Amber India because:
a) It was one of the only restaurants on the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 list we hadn't yet been to.
b) He now works in Mountain View and we were attending a screening of "The Incredibles" on the company's dime later that evening. We needed to eat somewhere first.
c) I was driving.
Now Amber India has been touted as the best Indian restaurant in the bay area -- if I was ever going to get him to eat Indian food, now was my chance. Here's a roadblock: neither one of us likes raisins. And, unfortunately for us, they can be hidden land mines in Indian food. But I had a plan.
We pulled into the strip mall location of the restaurant (weird at first but once you are inside it's OK). Jon later told me that every muscle in his body was telling him to flee.
We sat down and Jon told me to order -- he was going to trust me (and blame me should this turn out the way he was expecting).
I told the server that we loved spicy and hated raisins. PLEASE, I urged, let us know if we order anything that has the evil element. Our server was great. We ordered Shrimp Kabobs, Butter Chicken, Vegetarian Dal, Butter Naan and some Saffron rice. No raisins, no problem.
Our favorite was the acclaimed butter chicken. And for people who think chicken is trashy and boring, that was a pretty big deal. The chicken is delish; it's all shredded in a sweet/smoky/buttery/tomato-y sauce. It was just super great. Not spicy, but very good. The Dal was spicy and I just loved it. Not quite spicy enough for me but it was still yummy. The Naan was perfect, the rice great. The shrimp were simple and good, but we were so full that we could hardly eat any of them (they came last). I wouldn't order that dish again because although it was good, it was pretty ordinary.
Jon was pleasantly surprised, ate the leftovers the next day and said he'd go back. Mission accomplished.
"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."