Even though I rolled my eyes when I heard the name, I was excited at the news that Urban Turban would bring Indian cuisine back to downtown Orlando. By my recollection, there hasn’t been an Indian restaurant in the Central Business District since the mid nineteen nineties when Uday Kadam owned Bombay Bistro.
Why Indian cuisine been missing from downtown for so long is a mystery, given that most other cuisines are there. (No Vietnamese either, I believe, though at least it’s well represented nearby at Mills 50).
That said, I was hoping more from Urban Turban. Or maybe my expectations should have been tempered based on the name.
This is a fast food restaurant with a somewhat limited menu – four vegetarian dishes and four chicken, plus a special of the day. The food is dished up by a worker from steam-table trays on the other side of a plexiglass divider at the ordering counter. Meals come with a choice of white or brown basmati rice and a rather sad looking salad that includes greens, carrots, radishes and celery.
I had the chicken tikka masala, which was mostly a thin and undistinguished sauce. Not much chicken there.
My lunch companion’s vegetable korma had more substance in terms of the vegetables but the gravy was also unremarkable.
The naan I ordered reminded me of pita bread. My friend had the potato-stuffed samosas, which the menu described as Indian empanadas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen empanadas described as Spanish samosas.
Another curious statement from the restaurant’s website: “Our Indian kitchen is like a chemistry lab.”
There is a pleasant but spartan dining area with granite tables for dining in.
Urban Turban opened in November and it’s possible that it is still finding its way. I hope it does. It would be nice to have a good, reliable – and recommendable – Indian restaurant in downtown again.
Urban Turban is at 100 E. Pine St., Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-930-2311.