I'm always glad to see a new Indian restaurant open in the area. Especially since I lost my go-to favorite, Memories of India on Turkey Lake Road in the Restaurant Row district.
The newest, Royal Indian Cuisine, is a long way from the Bay Hill Plaza area — it opened recently in Casselberry — and it may not fill the figurative space left by Memories, but its food is good, and the staff is exceptionally welcoming and accommodating.
As with most area Indian restaurants, Royal, rather than focusing on the cuisine of one region, features dishes throughout the vast country. So there are tandoor dishes, biriyanis, meat entrees as well as vegetarian, and seafood specialties from the coastal region.
I started with an appetizer of palak bhaji, flattened fritters of spinach coated in chickpea batter and deep fried. (Actually, I started with a basket of complimentary papadum served with the usual triumvirate of chutneys — onion, mint and tamarind — that I ate too much of.) The bhaji had a slightly spicy note in the batter, and just the right amount of saltiness to complement the spinach. I nearly ate all eight of them — they were especially tasty with a bit of the mint chutney.
For my entree I selected the Royal lamb curry. Although it bears the name of the restaurant, it was a simple basic lamb curry, and there's nothing wrong with that. It was, as it should be, served with medium spiciness — not too hot, not too mild — but with myriad layers of spicing — cumin, coriander, garlic — that all played well together. The lamb was sufficiently tender, and the curry was delicious spooned over the fluffy basmati rice.
Good, too, when scooped up with some of the cheese naan that I also ordered. The tandoor-cooked bread actually had discernable cheese inside, something not always apparent.
Royal occupies a former Pizza Hut hut that has been home to other restaurants. I seem to remember this being a Brick and Fire location at one time. The decor is simple — requisite India scapes on the wall — and traditional country music (India being the country) plays in the background. There isn't anything special about the place, but it's comfortable and tidy.
And the staff couldn't have been friendlier. Then again, I was the only guest the evening I visited, save for a person who came in for a takeout order. But Royal is new, and it will find its audience among Casselberrians looking for good Indian cuisine and gracious hosts.
Royal Indian Cuisine is at 1410 State Road 436 (north of Howell Branch Road), Casselberry. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Lunch features a buffet. The phone number is 407-681-7542. (Note: the website may not be operational at this time.)