I was recently on an Indian kick and met a friend downtown for lunch at the buffet at Charkha. Charkha is located on W. 9th in the space formerly housing the Waterstreet Grill. It is a family owned and operated business that recently opened in May 2012. My best friend, who is Indian, highly recommended the lunch buffet as a good value with good food. The lunch buffet is offered from 11:30 to 2:30 Monday through Saturday. They offer a wide variety of selections, including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, with more than 8 different main courses, a salad bar, appetizers and desserts for only $9.95. The selection changes daily.
Getting there was a little frustrating due to the city repaving W. 9th. Not only was the street torn up, but there was no on-street parking available. My friend and I parked in the Bingham’s paid lot across the street and played Frogger with the lunchtime traffic while crossing the street. One friend ended up not joining us because she was so frustrated with the lack of parking (she had to go somewhere else downtown after lunch and would have to pay for parking a second time, which she wasn’t willing to do).
The day we went they featured tandoori chicken, saag paneer, a curry dish, some lentil and chickpea dishes, and goat biryani. I had never tried goat before, but I’m willing to try anything once (as long as it isn’t an organ or the thought of it doesn’t gross me out – like chicken feet). It wasn’t bad. It tasted a bit like gamey beef and paired well with the spiced rice. One of my main complaints about Indian buffets is that the rice is often dried out. It wasn’t the case here. The rice was light and fluffy even though we arrived there at the tail end of the lunch rush.
The desserts included Kheer (Basmati rice cooked in sweetened milk) and what I think was Gulab Jamun (a tiny, sweet doughnut hole-like pastry in a sugar syrup).
The buffet is all you can eat, but we only managed one full plate, a second trip to just get one or two more things and then a small dessert. I still felt I easily got my money’s worth.
I ordered my usual mango juice and chai. The mango juice is served in a copper cup, which kept it cold. The chai was once again pretty bland. I’m starting to wonder if it’s me or if my best friend’s mother simply has ruined me for any other chai.
I found Charkha to be a lovely space with good food and an excellently priced lunch buffet. I look forward to eating there again soon.
1265 W 9th St
Cleveland, OH 44113