Taste of India – Simply Southern

By on 26 January, 2015 in Food, Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews with 0 Comments

Sometimes, it can take a little effort to break out of routines. We recently found ourselves somewhat stumped by the simple question of where we should go for lunch. But a little brainstorming led us to two different options that aren’t brand new for the city, but were new to us. Although the two are quite different from each other, the important similarity is that both are tasty and offer quality dining options and reasonable prices. Both have earned their way into the regular rotation of our lunch options.

The most likely of the two to become a cornerstone of lunch is Simply Southern. That’s mostly because of location. Located across the street from the old Montgomery Mall, Simply Southern is right in our geographic wheelhouse. Obviously, convenience will vary for everyone, but it’s excellent for us. Add to that the fact that the food is tasty and affordable, and this restaurant is an easy one to recommend.

Housed in a former chain (maybe a Chili’s), the layout is a little unusual. You walk in and are almost immediately in line for a buffet. A server fills your plate with items you select, and unfortunately they put your food into styrofoam clam shells instead of actual plates. They may be trying to save money on dishwashing, but food this good deserves real plates and metal flatware. This may be a temporary thing.

The food is typical southern staples of the “meat and three” variety. The ribs were going fast and looked incredibly soft and succulent. We went with veggie plates, of course, which were incredibly cheap, even with drinks. We each opted for an identical plate consisting of an okra/tomato combo, some green beans, some cabbage, and some of Montgomery’s very best mac and cheese. Let’s be honest: The mac and cheese may be among the best in the state and/or entire Southeast. Our only difference of opinion was whether to select cornbread or roll. We didn’t pick the squash casserole, but that looked good too.

The okra/tomato mix may have been the highlight. It was almost like a stew, the flavors blending perfectly, everything tasting bright in a way that suggested freshness and the cooks avoided the dangerous trap of some okra mixes — where everything cooks together for too long and becomes a big mushy undifferentiated mess. The Simply Southern okra/tomato mix was more of a perfect symphony, and would be a welcome addition to any meal at our house.

Two other elements suggest a bit of caution before heading to Simply Southern. First, be sure to check to make sure they’re open. They have a Facebook page, but it doesn’t appear to be kept up-to-date with information on the rotating menu. Second, as is typical of so many southern “meat and threes,” it’s also worth noting that not all of the vegetables are vegetarian, as we discovered when we found what appeared to be corned beef in our cabbage. We’re of the sort that just picks around that kind of thing most of the time, but it’s worth noting if that’s an issue for you.

Simply Southern was not our only recent discovery. Our other one would be a more regular part of our culinary scene, but Taste of India is a bit far away. Nonetheless, for an affordable and tasty Indian buffet, it’s worth a drive to the other side of town, especially if you can couple it with a few other errands for efficiency’s sake. We’ve long been fans of India Palace (usually preferring their menu items to their buffet), but we thought it would be worth it to try out Taste of India while we found ourselves way out in the distant provinces of Chantilly Road. One interesting thing is that there is a drive-through Goodwill donations place in the same shopping center, so we were able to drop off some gently used clothes on our way.

The people operating Taste of India were genuinely nice and welcoming. The buffet had a lot of options for vegetarians and carnivores alike, with an accompanying salad/dessert bar offering an astonishingly spicy kind of pickle in addition to the usual chutneys. The food was really good, not bland or overcooked (even though, at 1:00 or so, we had passed “peak buffet” time). It’s always a sign of a good place when they bring out some fresh naan bread to punch up the things that have been lingering under the heat lamps on the buffet. The highlight was the vegetable korma, though the naan was excellent. We’d like to come and try eating off the menu sometime, but it’s pretty far away – maybe on a trip back from Opelika or Atlanta, we’d call ahead for some pickup.

All in all, we’re hoping to try new-to-us places in 2015 and hope that more places come to town offering genuine vegetarian options as our city continues to grow and diversify. Experimentation and adventuring are fun parts of the dining-out experience, and we’re glad for variety and options. So far, we’re 2-for-2.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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