Guru

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

People: 2

Type: A La Carte

Price: $120.49 CAD (Dessert, tip and drinks not included)

VerdictExperience

                  Guru is one of the few indian restaurants that markets itself as fine indian cuisine. The big question going in was, can it live up to that? Located on 170th street, it’s relatively close to West Edmonton Mall and a plethora of competitors. This means they DO need to be different, and not just another indian restaurant. I’m glad to see that they deliver on that front.

                  Walking in, you’re immediately hit by the smell of various spices. The restaurant smartly places various types of spice right by the door so that it’s the first thing you get. The area itself is dimly lit and contemporary music softly fills the room. There are private rooms (I counted at least two) on opposite sides of the building and even a window showcasing a glimpse into part of the kitchen. It’s the area where all the tandoori is made and I’ve always been a big fan of transparency into the inner workings of a kitchen. In all honesty, if the spices hadn’t been at the door, I would have had no idea this was an indian restaurant. While most indian places are decorated as such (over-the-top in almost all cases) Guru tones it down almost completely — something that I’m ecstatic about. The interior is very modern and absolutely gorgeous and only adds to their tag-line of “fine indian cuisine”.

Service

                  We walked in with a reservation and were seated immediately by the manager. Before I proceed any further, I just want to point out that our dessert and corking fee were waived by the restaurant because they knew I was there to review the place. I did not ask for this but it was done anyway, hence why I’m adding it as a service aspect. Our server was Marissa and she was almost perfect in her interactions with us. I brought my own champagne bottle and Guru was extremely accomodating with Marissa uncorking the bottle for us and then icing it without needing to be asked. She even had the forethought to ask to swap our wine glasses with champagne glasses. Any time we had used cutlery, it was promptly removed from the table with the rest of the dishes. Her greatest merit though, was her knowledge of the menu. I tend to ask a lot of questions (sometimes to decide on what to order, sometimes just for general knowledge) and she was able to answer everything I threw at her. What I ended up eating was what she suggested when I asked for the “guru experience”. The fact she was able to make informed suggestions on all of our questions, swayed me into ordering what she pushed. The one point of improvement would be to have our champagnge poured out for us and topped off whenever she was at the table. That didn’t really happen and while it doesn’t detract from the overall experience, when it does happen at other places, it only helps.

Appetizer

Guru Sharing Platter – Non Vegetarian ($22.75)

Butter Chicken Samosa on a bed of Chana Masala, Chicken Shooters – Puri stuffed with Chicken, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Chef’s Special Sauce – and Shrimp Pakora with a side of Spicy Garlic Tamarind Chutney and Mint Tamarind Chutney

                  The presentation overall was very clean and appetizing. The placement of each element highlights their contribution as separate but equal parts of the platter while calling to you to create a mess out of the tidy.

                  The shrimp pakora burst with garlic and a reminder of ocean waves upon your first bite. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the batter did wonders to really highlight it’s deliciousness. If you’re expecting this to be crispy, don’t set your expectations too high. Pakoras are made using chickpea batter which usually tends to not be as crunchy as other batters but instead serves as an enhancement of the underlying taste. This is the case here and, with some of the garlic tamarind chutney, is a great bite to whet your appetite.

                  The samosa is pre-cut and both halves are left together when it comes but the presentation could have been kicked up a notch by showcasing the cross-section above right out of the kitchen. Seeing the layers of the samosa is delightful and the inviting color of the butter chicken would have done wonders if properly showcased. The shell itself is crispy and the chicken inside is tender however, it wasn’t creamy enough for me. I understand they don’t want to potentially lose that crispyness of the samosa but if the dish is coming out immediately after being cooked, that should hopefully not be a factor. The bed of chickpea masala had balanced seasoning but somewhat overpowered the chicken, probably due to the lack of extra sauce on it. That being said, this was still a delight to eat and tasted amazing. In my book if your only critique is that there wasn’t ENOUGH of something, you’re doing something right!

                  The last item was the chicken shooters — innovatively housed in puri (or mini baskets as they call them) and stuffed to the brim with flavour. I’m not sure what type of seasoning was used on the chicken but it was absolutely delicious as an overall package. The chef’s sauce was a tad sweet and using the provided chutney didn’t help with that. This would have been the perfect appetizer in my book if the chicken had been spicy with the chef’s sauce to balance it out with it’s sweetness. Next time I go, I would still order this item over any of the other three.

Main

Smoked Chicken Tikka ($25.75) and Chicken Masala ($24.75) with Garlic Naan ($7.50)

Smoked Chicken Layered in Udaipuri Spices and Yogurt, Chicken tossed with Peppers, Onions and Ground Spices

                  Surprisingly light in spice, the yogurt in this dish masterfully brings down the level of hotness to a dull roar. The green contrast from the peppers adds depth to soething that’s reminiscent of india (even though I’ve never been there!), with the smells and look being exactly what I want out of indian food. The naan accompanying it was crispy on the bottom and nice and doughy on the top, able to fully support any amount of food on it while still mainting it’s crunch. The garlic was a little underpowering but it’s still one of the best looking and portioned naans I have had.

                  Service sizes are humongous here — usually I’m able to finish whatever is put in front of me but only put a small dent into this bowl. Meanwhile the chicken tikka was succulent and juicy, the chef did a fantastic job not to dry out the chicken. In retrospect, I should have got a different type of protein in one of the dishes as it was really a chicken overload. Luckily, it was all cooked to perfection and was extremely tender.

Dessert

Chocolate Coconut Naan ($12.00) FREE

Naan Bread, Belgium Chocolate, Coconut, Strawberry Syrup

                  The already fantastic naan gets changed and the additions were heavenly! Thick heavy chocolate with light coconut goes well with the doughy naan. It’s a fantastic concoction that elevates an already great side. Be warned, this is a really heavy and filling dessert so make sure to leave lots of room for it. There’s not a lot to say here, partly because I kept eating it! Guru’s entire dessert menu looks fabulous and I’ll definitely need to find excuses to go back and try the rest of them if something as simple as this was that divine.

Final Thoughts

                  Guru gives a unique twist to indian dining you don’t usually see; more expensive, relaxed atmosphere, exceptional service and fantastic food — all rolled up into one convenient little building. Yes the prices are higher than typical indian fare however, Guru is anything but typical. A chef’s table or something of that nature would do wonders to showcase what Guru has to offer however, in the meantime, the concise menu does wonders to really highlight the vastly different flavours involved in indian cuisine and you will still have trouble picking something out. Whether wanting a classic in butter chicken or something new and fresh like the butter chicken samosas, there is something for everybody here.

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

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