first impression | Turmeric is a bustling, flavorful spot that opened in the old Publico storefront in the Delmar Loop. Dominated by a large L-shaped bar, it serves a constant stream of happy diners and imbibers, treating them to Pan-Indian flavors that go way beyond the usual samosas, kormas and vindaloos. It’s got a fun vibe and reasonably priced dishes that will no doubt introduce diners to new and unusual foods. Another plus: lots of vegan and vegetarian options.

must try
» cheese & chilli kulcha$4; The pancake-like, stuffed flatbread tasted like it just popped out of the oven. It was soft and chewy and came dotted with bits of jalapeño.

» truffle masala dosa: $11; A thin sheet of lentil and rice flour slick with truffle oil was folded around scrumptious, curried potatoes with coriander seeds.

» cauliflower manchurian bezule: $10; This surprised me with its meaty deliciousness; the florets were breaded but not crisp-fried. Rather, they sat on a sweet-tangy sauce of Indian spices and could almost pass for white-meat chicken

» thinga masala: $15: A rich, slightly sweet red sauce is the base for plump shrimp.

» rack of new zealand lamb: $24; Three double chops crown a massive plate of pulao rice, sautéed spinach and plenty of rogan sauce (a slightly tangy, tomato-based cream). The chops were coated with mustard and a light breading and baked in the tandoor clay oven, making them soft and chewy and very different from grilled ones.

» pan-fried fillet of coconut sea bass: $26; The fillet sat on a massive serving of chickpea ragout, spiced cauliflower and mixed olives all topped with a sweet coconut ginger sauce—a sample of the flavor variety and complexity found here.

wash it down 
There’s plenty to choose from on the drink menu, including a selection of specialty cocktails with East Indian flavors. A Blackberry Whiskey Martini ($13) was good and boozy, with only the slightest hint of fruit (until you get to the end, where the mashed fruit congregated in a delicious, puréed pile).

This is a place that brings innovation to Indian cuisine. The menu is bountiful, and the dishes are packed with strong, exotic flavors. It also offers a lively bar scene, making it a two-fer. My only complaint is the wait staff wasn’t as knowledgeable about the menu as it should be.

6679 Delmar Blvd. | 314.899.9995

Pictured at top: Paneer Butter Marsala – homemade cottage cheese, tomato, clarified butter and fresh cream served with cumin and mint pulao and garlic naan

Photo: Bill Barrett