The Ultimate Dining Experience – The Blue Taj

DecorSpecial SeatingBubble Bar

Having visited The Blue Taj in the past, I know of its reputation, food, & ambiance so I was happy to revisit.  While it was not the restaurant we intended to dine at, it is where we ended up & I’m so glad.

Hidden in the back, behind Terrace Café, the restaurant is clearly in a great local…Ballantyne Village.  It has a large indoor and outdoor seating area that gets filled quickly, especially the night we dined.

They say the sign of a really good Indian restaurant is to see non Indian diners & that’s exactly the case when we ate there recently. 

With no reservations, we popped in right before the rush hour traffic that starts at 6:30 & were quickly seated.  While we wanted to start with drinks on the patio & then venture in, our host was quick to tell us that the restaurant fills up quickly so in we stayed.

From the minute you walk up to the entrance, you can tell this place has a great vibe & that the decorator painstaking was involved in selecting every detail of the place.  From the entrance door, to the floor to ceiling wine cellar, to the lights, & curtains….you feel you have arrived in India, chic India that is.  From the colorful etchings on the walls that break up the restaurant into two, to the tin looking ceiling and chandeliers…you know that everything was handpicked & certainly not cheap! 

And this carries over to the table ware &  chairs…though I must admit the chairs were a little heavy to moveJ  From red or blue appetizer plates to the colorful chairs, there is an explosion of color…red or mehndi color as we say everywhere.  In addition, certain areas have been adorned with subtle blue lighting peeping in the corners making it look almost clubesqe.

The menu is large but includes everything you may want to feast on…from vegetarian to all types of proteins.   

 We started off with drinks of course 😉  The drink menu has certainly changed since the last time I dined in.  Gone were the regular old plain jane drinks replaced with authentic Indian spiced drinks like Spice Village Chai, Merry Berry, Dizzy Mumbai, Kolkata relapse…just to name a few.  All made with some great smelling & tasting spices.  We sampled the Merry Berry (light & sweet), Dizzy Mumbai (strong whiskey & great tasting cumin), Spice Village Chai (vanilla vodka with all the spices & chai taste), and Mumbai Margarita (little sweet for me but so different than regular margarita).  The rest will have to be sampled at another time….epically the Kolkata relapse…only one of those and you’re done for the night!

The list of appetizers made it hard to pick just one so we went for the platter.  Moments later a hot dish arrived with 8 items to choose from….paneer/chutney fried pakoras, samosas, onion pakoras, raga petis, all served with a sweet tamarind chutney.  Yum…it was fully devoured!

And we had trouble determining entrees too….as there were 3 pages to choose from:  Vegetarian, Seafood/Chicken/Lamb classics, & Tawa/Roasted/Tandoori selections.  But this is where a great host/waiter becomes very important.  True restaurant workers sample the drinks and foods & are very well versed in the ingredients of a dish.  A Great restaurant worker can ask you what types of dishes you like & recommend something based on that & sometimes a dish completely off the menu!  And that’s exactly what happened with us….I wanted chicken but not the usual chicken tikka masala but I do like its gravy.  And a recommendation is made, chicken with a smooth sauce in methi & hot spices…sold!  And what’s your hot level I’m asked from scale of 1 to 5…..4 please!  And keep that water coming:)  My friend liked lamb & coconut….so the recommendation was finely cut lamb in a coconut gravy.    We also learned that our waiter helped create the drinks that ultimately made it onto the menu…bonus!

The food arrived quickly & was just magnificent!  The chicken dish was marvelous….and hot!  I was sweating into my third bite…just the way I like it 😉  The jasmine & cardamom rice were fluffy & tasteful…the aroma itself was delish.  And of course, you can’t eat Indian food without a basket full of Nan.  The proteins were both very tender & prepared carefully and the sauces were a flavorful explosion!  Not one dish was seen going back to the kitchen!   Oh…back to my food.  I really liked my hot chicken sauce a little better than the lamb sauce just because it was so spicy.  In fact, yogurt was needed to put out the fire in my mouth.  And authentic homemade yogurt it was….ahhh!

During the entire time at the restaurant, we had waiters check on us constantly, filling our water glass as soon as it was ½ empty or sooner.  And everything was brought out quickly…even when the restaurant was totally full. 

While we wanted dessert, there was just no space left in us….on the next visit we shall try!  On the way out, we dropped in to visit the Bubble Bar….a nicely displayed bar with its special Bubble Bar seat (see the pic).

Cost is a concern as it can be pricey but if you want everything perfect, it will cost you.  This is not your average Indian place….their food is truly a work of Art!

I can’t say enough good things about this place….wonderful service, great ambience/décor, phenomenal food, & truly a great dining experience worth having!

 Definitely check them out & make reservations if visiting on the weekends!

Address:        14815 Ballantyne Village Way, Charlotte, NC 28277

Phone:           (704) 369-5777

Hours:           Friday hours 11:30 am–2:30 pm, 5:00 pm–10:30 pm

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Terrace Café…oh what a let down!

Image Located in Piedmont Row in the heart of Southpark, I’ve often walked by the restaurant wondering what they served.  Can’t say it’s in the best location, to the side of the parking garage & looks like a hole in the wall.

But we girls thought we’d try something new for lunch & walked over for a quick bite.  And when you walk in, you’re pleasantly surprised at the size of the place – large open bar area with a 2nd floor for seating as well. 

We dined in the main dining room, on the 1st floor, which was a little small.  Numerous small tables placed everywhere so close that you could hear the other table’s conversation but you didn’t rub elbows …Thank Goodness!

Lunch was definitely crowed & as I looked around, all seemed to business professionals in the area chatting about work or working over lunch – the theme in the area.  The seating felt a little cool & odd at the same time.  Apparently the restaurant is built on a split level so when you’re dining in the main room, the side walk is on another level.  With large windows above, you get to see all the people walking by…like I said cool & a little odd too!

Service was certainly lacking but I can sympathize.  The waiter had lots of tables to cover.  The menu was a little lacking too even though it was my “meat” day.  I went with a chicken pasta dish:   Vegetarian Mushroom Pasta, minus the mushrooms with chicken tossed with mixed, asparagus tips, roasted red pepper, gruyere cheese, sherry wine and fresh thyme.  Gotta say it was sooo not worth the $15!  I even asked for hot sauce, which arrived by the time lunch was finished, to help it but no luck.  The whole dish was just so bland.  No amount of hot sauce or black peppers seemed to bring it to life L

Again, service was slow from getting our food to the check.  Note to self:  If I come here again, be ready for a long 2 hr meal.

 

The dinner & drinks menu definitely looked better!  And certainly the happy hour specials…that night was Martini Night – all Martinis for $5.  We’ll have to try that next time. 

Also, due to the location, no patio seating which is the best part about Piedmont Row restaurants.

They have another location in Ballantyne that has outdoor seating & larger menu and bar area.  While it’s in a good location in the middle of Ballantyne Village, it’s cursed by the building it’s in.  Many restaurants have come & gone in that place…let’s hope they survive!

Terrace offers an awesome Breakfast menu & serves until 2:30 – which is not common at restaurants other than IHOP or one of those places.  In fact, many people had ordered breakfast dishes for lunch the day we dined.  I may be talked into trying breakfast there again if I have 2 hrs to kill & ok with spending lots of $