Sitar Restaurant, Holetown, St James
Holetown is one of those prime tourist areas in Barbados. And there’s a reason for that. In a small area, there are shops and restaurants tightly packed for visitors’ enjoyment. I am sure the shopping is great, but the real reason I like it is the abundance of eating options. You can just drive along and find somewhere nice to eat. Although generally, I’d recommend calling for a reservation. They seem to like it in most places.
Sitar is located somewhere in a pair of side streets of the main road, amid other restaurants, a couple bars, karaoke and otherwise and there are always people on the street looking very much as if they’re enjoying themselves. The restaurants are in quaint narrow houses and you can’t quite tell what it’s going to be like from the outside.
Sitar, an Indian restaurant, is small, with good food. I’ve only been once so far, but I will go again, time permitting. I am not quite sure about the service – people were friendly, but the service was a bit slow considering there were only a couple other tables there. But I did like the food. I had veggie samosas (nice, hot crispy, but low light and the one picture I had is too blurry). And then Matar Paneer, Pilau Rice and some Garlic and Onion Nan. I don’t think I have had Matar Paneer before, although I always like Paneer. The Nan was very good. Light, a bit crispy on the outside and nice flavour.
The serving sizes are decent and the price is not too bad. Another reason to like this part of Holetown, the food is fairly affordable. I noticed the dish they served the Matar Paneer in looks JUST like the ones that Rasam in Trinidad uses. Must be a Caribbean Indian restaurant supply store. But the plates were cool and different. Colour. Nice.
Update (18 May 2007): I have visited Sitar at least three more times since this post. They know us now. Seriously. Everyone came over to say hello. I thought I could post a bit more on the food and prices.
Appetizers – The samosas really are consistently good – flaky, hot and flavourful and served in 3s. Not very spicy for those who worry. And the slightly sweet red sauce they serve with it is a good compliment. I have also had the ground split pea patties (like Trini kachorie, can’t remember the name they use) which are also good – crispy and well seasoned. You get 3 of these per order.
Nan – The nan at Sitar is light and thin and just the right amount of crispy on the outside. Very very nice. The Aloo Nan (with a layer of seasoned potato in the middle) is a particular favourite. Word of caution – 2 people can comfortably eat 1 order of nan with your main course.
Side Orders – Sitar’s rice dishes are made from basmati rice and are nice. I have not tried the biriyani (which would be a main course) and only 2 types of the rice, but Ithink they do a good job. I don’t think they are necessarily spectacular, but if you like rice, you won’t be disappointed. I have also had some of the vegetable sides, like the Aloo Gobi (pictured on the left), which is a mixture of potato, cauliflower and other vegetables, cooked in a mixture of spices like turmeric and cumin. I think the actual flavour may vary with the chef and spices used, but I love the 2 main ingredients, so I ordered it, but I found the taste of the fresh coriander leaves to be somewhat overpowering. I usually like coriander/cilantro, but not as much as chadon beni/culantro from T&T. This dish had too much of the slightly grassy/woody taste that cilantro/coriander can sometimes contain.
Curries – I have tried quite a few of the curries and come to the conclusion that I don’t really like the overly creamy Indian curries. I think I prefer the ones that are tomato based at Sitar. The Vindaloo is good and I think I would like to try the Jalfrezzi if I get a chance to visit again (my time in Barbados is almost up). The last time I had the Kerala Fish Curry, which seems to be just some spices (usual suspects like turmeric, ground coriander, cumin) and some yoghurt. It was a nice balance to the fish, with a hint of tangyness from the yoghurt. One of my friends orders the Chicken Korma every time, and loves it. I am not sure I like Kormas, so go with her recommendation As mentioned above, the Matar Paneer is quite nice. And the lamb curries are apparently well cooked and seasoned.
Desserts – Sitar offers 2 Indian desserts – Gulab Jamoon and Kulfi. Indian Gulab Jamoon is of course not Trini Gulab Jamoon; Indian Gulab Jamoon is more like Trini Rasgullah – fried balls of milk in a spiced sugar syrup. Sitar’s Gulab Jamoon (pictured on the left) is very good, but a little too much syrup for me. Plus they top it with whipped cream and a cherry (why??). The Kulfi, Indian icecream, is dense and condensed milky sweet, with nuts, ginger and spices. Mmm. But also topped with whipped cream and cherries…
You can also end the meal with a very nice Masala Chai.
I kept the bill (if only I could find it) and Sitar is relatively reasonable in terms of price (it’s still Barbados). A 3 course meal, plus coffee or chai and soft drink came up to BD $90 (US $45). And we still had take home bags of curry and nan.
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