I remember a wonderful restaurant called Memories of India that still lights the corners of my mind. It was part of Restaurant Row, though it officially resided in Bay Hill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road. It closed last year and will soon become a Grafitti Junktion.
Memories of India was my perennial pick for best Indian. It had its quality dips, as most places do from time to time, and a second restaurant that it opened in Lake Mary never quite rose to the same good food and service found at the original.
Now Memories of India has returned to south Orlando, and while it is still off of Sand Lake Road, it is several miles to the east, and so no longer a Restaurant Row resident. It fronts Orange Blossom Trail and sits in a group of businesses in front of Florida Mall in the same place as Sushi House.
Unfortunately, this Memories of India has more in common with its Lake Mary namesake than the original from Turkey Lake Road. The people were exceedingly nice and welcoming, though I was annoyed that the server tried to talk me out of (and succeeded) ordering a lunch thali, pushing the buffet instead. I gave up the lamb korma that I would have ordered for the opportunity to taste a variety of dishes from those on display.
If the conceit of offering a lunch buffet is to showcase what the kitchen can do with the rest of the menu, the dishes proffered here were disappointing. Each dish was as bland as the next, offering only different textures in the meats and vegetables in the gravies. The myriad spices that are the hallmark of Indian cooking were flat instead of multilayered. I did experience some sweat producing heat from a tray labeled "Spicy Vindaloo Sauce," which apparently is tantamount to putting a bottle of Sriracha on a table for the diner to sauce at will.
Chana masala, mutter paneer, tadka dal, curried goat — none of it was as transformative as the food that was offered at the old Memories of India.
The surroundings, too, are a bit more utilitarian and less a comfortably casual ambience.
Not at all the way they were.
Memories of India is at 8204 Crystal Clear Lane, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-370-3277.