I have found that in Cincinnati there are 2 kinds of people: Amol people and Ambar people. If you eat Indian food and live in Cincinnati (and probably frequent Amol) you know exactly what I mean. If not, read on...
On top of the main dishes, we typically get garlic naan - an Indian flatbread that is a bit crispy on the outside and then soft and chewy on the inside. This is actually one of the very few substantive reasons I recall appreciating Amol's food better than Ambar's - Ambar is all about the crispy naan (or at least they were 9 years ago). And finally, veggie pakora. Pakora are battered and fried fritters of vegetable (mostly spinach I think), and they bring you 3 chutneys to put on them. I usually load on the spicy onion, tangy/sweet tamarind, and refreshing coriander. They're all too good to pass on.
Amol has a great lunch buffet every day of the week, and plenty of other great dishes - but these are our regulars.
The Ingredients: Nothing notable on the ingredients in the restaurant. Jagdeep's, the grocery behind the restaurant has just about anything you might want so you can make what's on the menu. We've price checked many items on Jungle Jim's trips and they're comparable or better at Jagdeep's, without the drive to the burbs.
The Story, Setting, &Service: As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are Amol people and Ambar people. I have even been warned not to write this by friends because of the concern of starting a fight. You see, there is lore in town about the two warring Indian restaurant factions separated by only short fence posts. I have no idea if these rumors are true. I do know that the owner at Ambar was shot this past fall, and some immediately jumped to conclusions. For the purposes of this blog, let's just acknowledge there are at least widespread rumors.
In simple terms, the general Amol/Ambar split is this: Amol people tend to think of themselves as more down to earth (mostly, in my understanding, because they are going to restaurant that has nearly the same food for $1 less per entree and without a clean bathroom). I don't really know what Ambar people think, as I've never been one. As I mentioned above, I think it is mostly Amol people who believe a divide exists. Got a different opinion? Let me know.
Before I forget, you must know about the coupons. Near the back of Citybeat they have coupons for many of the Indian restaurants in town. I believe the current offer is a whopping $7 off your second entree at Amol. You must not miss this opportunity!
In other news, back when Jagdeep's grocery was still a laundromat that owned a much used Double Dragon arcade game, Amol India was an eclectic restaraunt called GJ's Gaslight. According to long time Clifton resident Dorothy Lauch, 90, GJ's "had a little of everything", as long as everything was hamburgers or Italian. When the restaurant became Amol, the booths remained, but the red brick wall was painted white and the signature faux gaslights were removed. A little history for all you foodies out there.
I believe I will be an Amol guy until the day I die. I've been to plenty of other places around town, and most of them are just fine. This is simply what I'm used to now, and I like being a regular. I know Sarah agrees, because when they picked up on who she was and started calling her by name, she told me with a very big smile.