Thursday, July 18, 2013

Merzi Food Review

Naan Bowl with Tandisserie Chicken

Last night marked my second visit to Merzi, Penn Quarter's fashionable fast food Indian eatery (think Chipotle but with Indian food and more choices.) My first time was a disaster, a quick bite with my brother before a Lakers-Wizards game last December. I promised never to return, but thankfully I've cooled down since. What a difference seven months can make: My dinner at Merzi was fantastic, unfortunately cut short by a needed dash down the street for a movie screening.

I arrived a few minutes before 7, and lined up behind three customers. The crew at Merzi are polite and proficient at moving things along. I placed an order for a Naan Bowl with Tandisserie Chicken ($7.77.) A naan bowl is basically a piece of flatbread placed in a bowl/plate and covered in toppings. I chose potatoes over chick peas, and was given a full size boneless breast of Tandoori-flavored chicken to place on top. Cover that with hot masala (onion-tomato with hot chilies and traditional Indian herbs & spices, before a second associate took over, and added Merzi's delicious cucumber-tomato mix with a sprinkle of salsa for good measure. Finally, the cashier processed my order (topped off with a $1.79 fountain drink.) Each associate was nicer than the one before. Hats off for superb customer service.

I took a seat at the final table before the restrooms. The dining area is spotless, and even the condiments and cutlery are clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Bravo! A quick wash of the hands confirmed a clean, individual bathroom. So far, everything's up to par and then some.

View from 7th Street

I went back to my seat and dove into one seriously good-looking plate of food. I started with a knife and fork; but it's a lot easier to cut up the chicken and eat it as a sandwich (albeit a loaded and soon to be messy one.) Luckily, I brought plenty of napkins with me... because my meal got plenty messy. Messy and delicious. Tons of flavor (hot and spicy is the way to go with masala) and plenty of texture from the potatoes, chicken and cucumbers made this impromptu sandwich one of the best I've ever had. It ranks right up there with Cava Mezze Grill as best in town. Great naan bread too (nice and chewy.)

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I was in a rush to eat (duty calls) and I had to leave a bite or two on my plate. I literally felt a pang of guilt as I dumped the contents of my tray into the trash collector. I can't wait to go back, with time to linger... and take my brother too.