Out East: A Sunday Field Trip

By on 9 December, 2015 in Food, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

IMG_4409Although we almost always write about doings in Midtown Montgomery, on Sunday we decided to take a trip all the way out to Chantilly Drive to investigate reports of a new Indian restaurant in the space where Taste of India used to be. Nothing beats a Sunday Indian buffet, so we were eager to see what Bay Leaf had to offer. They haven’t changed much in the way of decor since the Taste of India days, but the buffet was more expansive than we’d expected, with tons of vegetarian options and a seemingly endless supply of naan.

Once you get past the drab strip mall interior, the menu deserves the focus. There were some old favorites – dal, saag paneer, aloo gobhi – and a few things that were new to us, including some kind of potato cakes and a dessert called rasmalai (imagine sweetened discs of chana). We were a little disappointed to see that the buffet didn’t include samosas or pakoras, but we certainly didn’t leave hungry. The service was attentive without being intrusive, and we felt free to make a return trip to the buffet to make sure that we’d tried a little of everything.

We didn’t stay long enough to get a sense of how often the items on the buffet are replenished, but everything seemed to be fairly fresh. The value for the price was good, and we’re glad to know that the city’s managing to sustain multiple Indian restaurants, at least for now. Because it’s way out on the east side, it’s a bit out of the way for us, but even if it doesn’t make it into our regular restaurant rotation, it’s a fairly solid option for the times we make it out to Eastchase.

Afterward, we explored the supermarket next door – Renfroe’s Foodland. Pro tip: It’s always better to go to the grocery store when you’re full, versus when you go while you’re starving and end up breaking your bank account.

We’d heard lots of folks raving about the Renfroe’s meat department, and we’re always interested in supporting locally owned businesses (the family also operates the Super Foods over on McGehee), so we wanted to see what the fuss was about. We can’t vouch for the steaks (though there’s no end to people online who will), but the place itself is really large and nicely kept. There’s a local pharmacy (Adams) with a branch inside the store, and a number of locally made products for sale. It may be one of the cleanest grocery stores we’ve ever been in, with very wide aisles and lots of friendly staff. We got some Barber’s egg nog, because how can you resist egg nog at this time of year, and a few other staples. It’s interesting to think about the changing grocery landscape out East – as Whole Foods moves in, lots of people are speculating about whether Earthfare will make it. As those two chains prepare for high-end specialty food warfare, Renfroe’s has clearly staked out the “everyday grocery store” territory. It’s not that you can’t get fancy things there, it’s just that you could actually do a whole grocery trip at one store – something that’s hard to do at Earthfare and expensive at Whole Foods.

All in all, we’re happy to do most of our shopping in Midtown, but for the rare occasions when you want to venture out to the “other” side of town, it’s good to know what’s out there.

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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