Editor’s Note: This was originally published in the April 2010 issue.
At last, an Indian restaurant where you don’t feel like an outcast. At many culinary outlets representing the Indian subcontinent, the service is a little on the cool side. OK, on the cold side. Well honestly, sometimes downright surly. But at Shaan they actually seem like they’re glad you’re there. You get smiles (real, not forced), complimentary papadums, and a complimentary dessert. Did these guys go to customer service school or what? Shaan is in a strip mall, which is usually a sign that an Indian restaurant is a notch less pretentious than its freestanding counterparts. The divey-ness here really creeps up on you. It’s touches like the black velvet painting of Shiva that let you know just how wonderfully cultures can clash. Prices tend to run a touch below average and the food—the traditional Northern Indian fare you find most everywhere—is on par with most Indian places in town. The vindaloo and chicken tikka get a lot of nods of approval; the naan is hot from the tandoor, as you’d expect; and the homemade paneer is excellent. Note: The complimentary papadums will blow your head off, which may be why they bring the associated sauces to you with a sly smile. Don’t get me wrong, I expect surliness at an Indian place just as much as the next guy, which is why I was a little put off by the warmth at Shaan. But you’ll get used to it. It’s nice that friendliness ain’t foreign here.
Shaan, 3880 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 533-3100