Indian lunch at Amber Cafe in Mountain View, CA

The “Amber” name is synonymous with sophisticated Indian dining in the Bay Area. From their iconic Amber Restaurant in Santana Row (review coming soon) to their new Amber Dhara in Palo Alto (erstwhile Junoon), Amber has captured the fascination and wallets of Bay Area folks for a few years now. Surprisingly I had not visited their Amber Cafe in Mountain View until last Sunday and here is my review of the same.

We went there on a lazy Sunday afternoon when the place was more than half empty. We had heard a lot about this place and wanted to experience it for ourselves. The menu offered intriguing choices to say the least. We had a hard time choosing between the Indian street food, typical lunch fare and some exotic choices. We went with a combination of everything. We ordered a safe aloo paratha with raita for the little guy. For my wife we ordered a Chilli vegan tofu burrito. Famished, I ordered a veggie frankie and a chilli tofu organic quinoa dosa. We also ordered a lemon mango sherbet.

The food took a while to arrive and that was a disappointing start to the lunch. To make Indian street food for a half empty restaurant should not have taken so long. Once the food arrived, the anticipation abated pretty quickly to be replaced with overall disappointment. Where do I start- the burrito was totally without any spice. If I were in Whole Foods, that would be understandable. But in an Indian place where spice is the key, this was disappointing. The burrito and my frankie arrived with a corn salad where it felt like the corn was from a pack of frozen vegetables microwaved before serving. My frankie was listless and the vegetables inside didnt feel like they were cooked very well. The quinoa dosa was the kicker. When I order dosa at a restaurant as I have been all my life, I expect that the filling is inside. Here, the chilli tofu part came in a separate cup and the quinoa dosa came just by itself. The dosa was fine but I was expecting more. The lemon mango sherbet and aloo parathas were the saving grace of the whole affair.

Overall, it was a big disappointment for us. We had great expectations of fancy Indian food in an urban contemporary setting. It might have been just a bad day at the office for the chef because I hear good things about the place from a lot of friends. Or maybe we picked the wrong dishes. Whatever be the reason, it came up short.

Rating:

Ambiance: 9/10. The place looks contemporary and stylish.

Service: 7.5/10. Service was slow given the number of people at the restaurant at that time.

Food: 7/10. The food was a disappointment to us.

Price: 8/10. Price was reasonable and on par with similar places around town.

Restroom: N/A

Overall: 7.5/10. Color us disappointed. Would love to hear better stories about the place.