Madras Palace

$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

NOTE: The restaurant serves a daily lunch buffet.

The new Madras Palace in Gaithersburg also takes its menu lead from Udupi Palace, Woodlands, et al. It has a slightly more polished look, though not much more atmosphere; it used to be a Shakey's, and the skeleton is still visible. The service is a little tentative, but more outgoing, even if they aren't very good at recipe information.

The cooking is a little less assured than at Woodlands or Udupi Palace; the dosa dough was a little too heavy and not very sour, some of the dipping sauces less potent and the coconut in the mixed vegetable curry overwhelming. Some of the curries are listed as "North Indian style," though the flavor seems similar to that of the south
Indian versions. (It definitely doesn't live up to Madras's spicy reputation, but then its clientele is more mixed/Americanized.)

But the samosas are very good, flaky and crunchy at the corners, and the vegetable uthapam is a real find: a lentil-rice mash lightly fermented, spiced and fried; broken up and served with braised vegetables like a very thick stew. Madras Palace cooks with vegetable
oil; like Woodlands, it serves no alcohol but offers a variety of fruit and yogurt drinks. Lunch buffets are $6.95 during the week, $7.95 weekends.

-- Eve Zibart