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Mantra on the Hill Review

March 24, 2013

Well, can’t have a great experience at all restaurants, I guess. When I first heard about Mantra on the Hill, I got very excited. Contemporary Indian Cuisine, in Mt. Adams…yes, please. We made reservations, drove up to Mt Adams, and hit up Alive One first (which was a good bar…nice selection of craft beers, I recommend it). Once it was time to walk over, we arrived on time, and got seated quickly. It was a pretty nice looking place, with a pretty cool ambiance. However, the good mostly ended there. We ordered some naan to start off with. The cheese naan did not have cheese baked into it, but cheddar cheese melted on it. The naan itself was not bad, but neither is frozen naan from Kroger. It was maybe 1/10 of the taste and quality of Akash’s naan. We ordered two entrees…Sali Boti (lamb, apricot, tomato-onion stew, and potato straws) and Aam Aur Murgh (fresh mangoes, fennel seed poweder, cardamom, curry leaves, chicken, and lite almond gravy). Before I even get to those, however, the largest concern was the rice that came with them…no spice at all to it. Just plain bismati rice. EVERY Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to has had rice with spices…I have no idea why they served plain rice with this type of food. It makes no sense. Back to the entrees. The Lamb dish was pretty good, spicy and pretty flavorful. Not great, but pretty good. Honestly, I’d rather have almost any traditional Indian dish than this one. It was good, but not better than it’s source materials. Not even close to Akash (http://wp.me/p3jVIR-u), which is my favorite local Indian establishment. That’s the problem. If you are going to make something contemporary/updated/gourmet/whatever, you need to give me a reason to choose it and pay more. It just wasn’t special. The chicken dish on the other hand was not very good at all…I can’t believe a chef would put this on his menu. The flavors didn’t go together and I was really disappointed. It’s too bad, there’s a lot of potential with taking old flavors and making them contemporary (see Abigail Street, Nada/Frontera Grill, etc). I hate to fully judge a place on one meal, but I don’t really see a reason to try it again anytime soon when there are so many other choices in Cincinnati.
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From → Upscale Urban

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