Darjeeling unlimited: India Palace

India Palace has shuffled sideways in its strip center at Fredericksburg and Wurzbach, and it’s now all pimped-out in pink. There also may be more sundry images of that other palace, the Taj Mahal, than previously. But regardless of whether you’re a partisan of pink, the change has been for the better. Visually.

The buffet line, however, that quintessential get-in/get-out-fast invention dear to all Indian restaurants, did not get the message. Which is not to say that the food lacks the freshness of the new digs; steam table containers are changed regularly, and nothing seems really tired. Well, maybe the tandoori chicken. But neither is there spark or verve, normally among the qualities that distinguish Indian cuisine.

The potato samosas we think of as appetizers aren’t abnormally soggy, but they are solely spud-filled, lacking any detectable spice or even the color contributed by the green peas mentioned on the menu. A boiled egg curry looked promising, but tasted bland. Beef meatballs? Boring — as was a chicken curry. A vegetable biryani appeared Americanized in its choice of vegetables and seemed shy on saffron and nuts. There was a good dish with baby eggplants and potato, as well as a fresh and crisp cabbage masala — though those were its salient virtues. A dal dish was quite decent. (It’s tough to go really wrong with lentils, though a one-dimensional yellow lentil soup attempted to do so.) Saag paneer, the classic dish that makes creamed spinach almost acceptable by adding housemade farmer’s cheese cubes, fulfilled its role as comfort food admirably.

Indian desserts, with the exception of the pistachio-flavored kulfi and the Palace’s frozen mango malawa with almonds, have never made much of an impression, and the dessert portion of the buffet fell right in line with that assessment; there was a very sweet rice pudding, mango custard, and an OK semolina cake. Everything, in other words, needs more Bollywood bling — more pink on the plate. Symbolically speaking.

India Palace

8747 Fredericksburg Rd. #100

(210) 692-5262

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