It takes a lot of guts - or madness - to open an Indian restaurant on the south side of Barry Road in the Northland, given that on the north side of the street, in the Zona Rosa shopping center, is the glamorous and popular Swagat Indian restaurant. But a year ago, two entrepreneurs did, in fact, open a second Indian venue, called Saffron, at 8140 N.W. Prairie View Road in the shopping strip behind the Motel 6, best known as the location of Dirk's Sports Bar & Grill (home of the $5.99 Monday-night burger special).
Saffron closed earlier this year, but the illuminated sign (and much of the interior decor) is still in place. You can almost detect the word Saffron behind the lightweight banner that the new owner of the restaurant has tied over the old sign.
Moti Mahal Authentic Indian Cuisine opened two weeks ago; it has no connection to the international chain, Moti Mahal Delux. But it does have a connection to the local Korma Sutra restaurants; Moti Mahal owner Jorabar "Jay" Shokar is a partner in the Westport location of Korma Sutra.
"I'm thinking that we'll have to do something about that," says Shokar, who also explained to me that the name Moti Mohar has a meaning, but he wasn't sure what it was. "Perhaps if you go online," he said, helpfully.
Moti Mahal offers a menu similar to the one served at the Korma Sutra restaurants. It also serves two kinds of family-style dinners, one vegetarian and the other with meat, for parties of two or more (the dinner for four people, which features nine different dishes, is priced at $78.95).
One of the criticisms of the old Saffron - that servers bring out ice water and rarely ask patrons for a beverage order - seems to still be an issue in this new incarnation of the restaurant, even though Moti Mahal offers chai, lassi drinks, coffee and soda (and has applied for a license to serve Indian wine and beer). And there is still a lunch buffet here (it's somewhat more elaborate than the Saffron version), served daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served every day from 5 to 9:30 p.m.