Introducing: Aravind, an authentic south Indian restaurant in Greektown
Set in the midst of gyro-heavy Greektown, new Indian restaurant Aravind is something of an anomaly. It stands out by serving Keralan and southern cuisine (the curry-and-cream dishes of northern India are way more common downtown) and for utilizing Ontario-sourced ingredients when possible. Aravind, which opened last month, is not a bargain joint by any means—mains here range from $14 to $21—but owners hope the local ingredients, dedication to service and the concise, VQA-heavy wine list make up for it.
Aravind Kozhikott, who co-owns the eponymous spot with his family, has been a member of Marc Thuet’s team for the past few years; he helped train ex-cons during season one of Conviction Kitchen. For the time being, Kozhikott’s parents are heading up the kitchen, giving a homemade aspect to such standard Keralan creations as masala dosas, stuffed with potato and onion masala ($14), and saag paneer, doused in a purée of spinach, kale and broccoli ($16). Aravind also does a banana leaf–wrapped Ontario whole fish (pictured, $21). With only seafood and vegetarian options on the menu, it’s a piscivore’s playground.
Formerly the site of Mong Kut Thai (don’t worry, it just moved down the street), Aravind is still getting its footing. Kozhikott says new artwork and a new sign are on the way, as are some expanded menu options. Still, attention to detail abounds: nearly everything is made in house, from the paneer to the dosa rice crêpes to the coriander-infused vodka that Kozhikott uses in his Cochin caesar. Instead of tap water, customers are given mild, cumin-infused, digestion-aiding herbal water, ubiquitous in Keralan households.
As incongruous as Aravind may seem in Greektown, it’s probably a welcome addition for fans of Indian food. The trek to find authentic South Indian in Toronto can be a long one.
Aravind, 596 Danforth Ave. (at Gough Ave.), 647-346-2766.