A new restaurant aims to prove that Indian cuisine and culinary excellence can go hand in hand.
Mike Dhillon, a self-confessed “foodie,” said Indian Spice Train, 7165 Liberty Centre Drive, is geared toward those with a discerning palate.
“We want the customer to come here and have a full experience of fine dining,” Dhillon said. “We’re not doing any buffets. We want a food connoisseur who can come in and enjoy the different spices because most of the Indian restaurants here are doing buffets, they’re reheating the food and the spices get mellowed down.”
The restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus features a wide array of choices, including appetizers, meat entrees, vegetarian entrees, Tandoori selections, breads/naans, chefs special creation and both veg and non-veg lunch rolls. Halal meats, gluten-free options and vegan dishes are all available.
Spice levels can be adjusted anywhere on a scale of 1 to 10, and dishes are prepared fresh from the highest-quality ingredients, he said.
The bar’s wine and single-malt Scotch lists features options rarely found at Indian restaurants, and are set to grow even further in the coming months, Dhillon said.
Besides its upscale menu, Indian Spice Train also is hoping to attract a dedicated clientele via attentive service and upscale ambience. Framed prints throughout the restaurant feature British Indian Army cavalry regiments as a tribute by Dhillon to his family’s four generations in the British and Indian armies.
The restaurant has removed traces of its predecessor, Antonio’s Ristorante Italianio, by revamping the kitchen, replacing dining room furniture and lighting, upgrading the sound system, and adding decorative, red draperies.
A private dining area is available for special occasions and business meetings, while a fenced-in patio is planned for warmer months.
While most Indian restaurants wouldn’t bother to have an executive chef, Dhillon said he hired Rip Sidhu for that role due to his success at Bombay Brazier, a well-reviewed Montgomery restaurant Sidhu opened in 2000.
“A fine dining establishment needs an executive chef who understands the food, who can do things differently,” Dhillon said. “It’s not like you’re cooking at home. It’s the presentation, it’s the food and it’s a combination of basically all your senses.
“There are 34 different kinds of spices we use and every small spice can make things taste so differently.”
Sidhu said he cooks his dishes the true Indian way, with yogurt and not cream, and gives special care to each menu item.
He aims to make Indian Spice Train a destination restaurant for those wanting a complete fine dining experience, “not the cheap way out.”
“Food has to be cherished,” he said. “It’s not a bale of hay that you throw on the ground and all the cows come running.”
Dhillon and Sidhu said the upcoming openings of the $350 million mega retail Liberty Center less than a mile away and the four-story Home2 Suites by Hilton next door played a key role in their decision to purchase the property.
“This is an extremely developing area and there is a big need for restaurants,” Sidhu said.
Danielle Newman, of Liberty Twp., said she’s well familiar with Sidhu’s cooking skills from Bombay Brazier and as of Monday had already made six trips to dine at Indian Spice Train.
“It’s a much richer flavor (than other Indian restaurants) and he’s just such a fantastic cook,” Newman said. “It’s just different from all the other Indian (restaurants) in Cincinnati.”
For more information, call 513-777-7800 or visit www.indianspicetrain.com.