Nirvana continues to be one of my favourite spots for Northern Indian food in the Toronto area — and now, the restaurant is looking for additional locations.
Indeed, Nirvana is looking to franchise, concentrating in the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding cities (with the exception of Mississauga, where it already operates). The restaurant will also consider Southern Ontario cities outside Greater Toronto. Full-service restaurants will be considered, as will express units.
For fans of Indian food, this is good news, since the food has been consistently excellent at my repeated visits to Nirvana’s flagship restaurant. My most recent meal was no exception.
We start with aloo gobhi, the classic dish of cauliflower and potatoes in masala gravy, zapped with slivered fresh ginger. Nirvana’s tandoor oven is reliably good, and on this night, we try plump shrimp sherdil, smoky and flavourful, and delicate fish tikka deep red from its marinade.
Hakka-style chili chicken, ordered ‘dry’ (without sauce), is fragrant with chilies, bell peppers, garlic and onions. For the first time ever, we try crab curry, and to its great credit, the kitchen removes the meat from the shell, making it so much easier to eat. The meat is tender and succulent and bathes in a rich, deeply flavoured gravy.
A classic north Indian dish, mutter paneer is a sumptuous combination of paneer (cottage cheese) and green peas cooked with Indian spices. Similarly, baingan bhartha, tandoor-roasted eggplant mashed and cooked with tomatoes, onions, green peas and green chilies, is smooth and luxurious.
For dessert, we opt for thick and refreshing mango lassi, the classic blended yogurt drink, the perfect way to end this spicy feast.
Along with the superb food, another constant at Nirvana is the genial and polished service delivered by a professional staff overseen by general manager Karan Bajwa.
A glassed-in tandoor kitchen highlights a spacious, high-ceilinged room.
The restaurant, which seats 220 people, is available for group buyout. A private room seats 40.
Nirvana also offers meeting and event catering (featuring a portable, charcoal-fired tandoor oven) for up to 1,000 people.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,200 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.