Recent hightlights from our food writers

Swad Tandoori

150 State St., New London

(860) 439-1809,

For years, the small space at the corner of State and Green streets in downtown New London was occupied by Northern India — a reliable destination for indigenous cuisine. After too long as an unsettled property, Swad Tandoori, with many Northern India kitchen and front of the house folks back, has opened.

Virtually everything on a menu reliant on standard fare is well prepared and delicious. To start, an order of Paneer Pakora ($4.95), happy squares of battered and deep-fried cottage cheese, are irresistible. Really, just get three or four orders and deal with your cardiologist later.

But that would preclude a scrumptious trip through Entrée Land. Two faves serve as just an introduction to the possibilities. Paneer Makhani ($6.95 lunch, $10.95 dinner) incorporates chewy cubes of onion, cheese and fresh herbs into a luxuriant and piquant tomato sauce. And Chicken Madras ($7.95 lunch, $12.95 dinner) seduces with large hunks of tender, boneless breast in a rich curry sauce boasting hints of coconut. Both these dishes, served over toothsome basmati rice and utilizing any of a number of the restaurants spongy and wonderful naans, are tremendous — and representative of the menu at large.

— Rick Koster

Himalaya Café

1456 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook

(860) 304-4530

Just the other day, I invoked my review of Himalaya Café in Old Saybrook during a discussion with a vegetarian colleague about excellent Indian fare in Connecticut. I directed him to Himalaya's paneer tikka ($8.50), with instructions to savor the layers of flavor that emerge from these grilled chunks of rustic cheese. Simplicity at its best. Pair the paneer with the tasty sesame naan ($4) and you've got a light dinner of champions — the perfect sort of thing to nosh on from a seat at Himalaya's cozy, chic bar.

Were my colleague an omnivore, I would have recommended the Chef's Special Lamb Curry next, a medley of spice accents and savory, almost beefy flavor ($13.95) that became our favorite dish over a two-dinner sampling.

For those who prefer to keep it basic, Himalaya Cafe offers standbys like Chicken Tikka Masala ($14.95) and chicken and lamb biriyani dishes ($13.95 and $14.95, respectively), among others.

With its great décor and friendly staff, I will gladly again recommend this eatery to any fan of fine Indian cuisine.

— Marisa Nadolny

Penny Lane Pub

150 Main St., Old Saybrook

(860) 348-9646

Penny Lane Pub in Old Saybrook combines the familiar with the creative in a cozy, relaxed environment reminiscent of a classic British tavern. Recommended appetizers include the tri-colored tortilla chips with a sharp and tasty spinach and artichoke cheese dip ($12.99), the supremely crispy Bond Street onion rings with a pinch of spice savory chipotle aioli ($7.99), and a chunky, bacon included, New England clam chowder ($5.99 for a cup; $6.99 for a bowl).

For dinner, the Newcastle free-range roasted chicken ($20.99) is among several stellar and clearly labeled gluten-free options; the moist half bird comes in a roasted garlic lemon sauce with sautéed spinach and smashed cauliflower side as mashed potato substitute. The scallop Shakespeare ($24.99) is the most eye-catching seafood entree on the menu, with pan seared scallops, basmati rice, corn suboise, and a mix of peppers, wild mushrooms, onion, and corn with a finish of basil oil. Vegetarians will likely enjoy the polenta and grilled vegetable melt ($19.99) — a generous serving of polenta topped with a panoply of smoky grilled veggies and melted cheese.

— Alex Nunes


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