Restaurant Review: Sapphire Indian Cuisine
Sapphire Indian Cuisine sits at a familiar address in a familiar strip mall. On the north end, Kenny Centre is renown for a host of international eating options ranging from a Japanese bakery to a Chinese hot pot place. Sapphire occupies the particular address within the shopping center that has also housed other Indian operations, to wit, Curry & Dosa, Cinnamon Indian Grille, and Sher E Punjab.
Because none of those places are here anymore, it might be worth questioning whether or not the location itself is jinxed. That’d be a shame for Sapphire, as it puts out a worthy spread.
Besides, it’s doing things differently from its predecessors. For starters, it’s got extensive branding. Vibrant blue seat jackets cover every chair and booth seat, with lettering announcing that the name of the joint is, in fact, Sapphire. More to its credit, the quality has been high in the food department.
Especially notable is Sapphire’s way with vegetables, creating arrays of flavors and textures that come alive on its menu. An early favorite is the Channa Saag ($9.99). Saag things have been reflexive personal favorites at Indian restaurants, because spinach is such a healthy thing, and it’s doubly nice when it comes in a package that makes you want to roll your face in it.
Such is the case when spinach is mixed with chickpeas in the Channa Saag. They bobble in a sea of dense, dark, minced greens that also seem to be infused with the legumes, giving the spinach a creamier quality and a heftier weight on the fork. The dish also hosts a sneaky latent heat; it accents the combo rather than defines it.
Potatoes make an appearance in Jerra Aloo ($9.99), soft, reddish and baptized in a cumin based sauce, they make an excellent foil for the Channa Saag.
Add to the mix cottage cheese meatless meatballs. Or rather, Malai Kofta ($10.95). The menu uses the term “cottage cheese,” a frequent reference to paneer, to describe the croquettes. While meatless, the ingredients take on a qualities reminiscent of a meatball: firm and flavorful and dotted with diced veggies. Served in a pleasantly garlicky, savory sauce and assembled with the other vegetable dishes, it’s an excellent showcase for the diversity available in meatless dining. It also leaves you satisfied and filled.
Meat’s on the menu, though. If you want to do something more omnivore, that’s totally an option at Sapphire. There’s seafood, lamb, a few goat items, and chicken. Something familiar on the lines of Chicken Tikka Masala ($12.95) is nicely executed, pairing tender chicken grilled in a tandoori oven with a rich, creamy tomato sauce.
Rounding out the meal are appetizers and the bread. The heavy Pakora ($4.95) were on the grease-sodden side, so maybe a different appetizer next time. The Naan ($2.50) is prototypically addictive, though: toasty flavor in a warm, soft and comforting flatbread package.
Service is at once hospitable and casual. The house is a little slow on the water refills, but that’s not a huge gripe. In general, pro-active diners can remedy that sort of thing with a request. You can find Sapphire at 1140 Kenny Centre Mall.
For more information, visit www.sapphirecolumbusoh.com.
Photos by Walker Evans.