A college buddy who occasionally appears on our doorstep arrived this weekend to attend a show down at Navy Pier. Last night we decided to go off to what has been, for nearly 30 years, my favorite Indian place, Standard India up on Belmont. I'd been worried as they had been "closed for remodeling" a few months ago, and had been surprised and relieved when they did, in fact, re-open. Unfortunately, in retrospect, it would have been almost better had they not. The old fellow who ran the place (who I'd first made acquaintance with back in the 80's when they had a location down in my neighborhood) had been having some health issues, but had been seemingly in much better shape the last time we'd been in ... but it turns out that he died soon after (we were last there the end of September, and the fellow that was running things there tonight indicated that he had passed away about 3 months ago). This, of course, explains the closing. I can only guess that the restaurant was sold by his family (the fellow running things tonight was a non-Indian guy in his 20's), as (except for the lay-out and decor), nothing was the same, even the buffet was set up oddly. The worst part was that the old Standard India had fabulous food, with every dish being a beautifully executed example of its kind, and tonight ... well, it was like being in some place that had heard of Indian cuisine, and maybe seen it on TV, but had no feeling for it. If the food at the old place was consistently an A-/B+ the food tonight was in the C- to D- range. There was one dish on the buffet that was plausibly like its previous version, and the only other thing that was not seriously degraded was the soup, which was different and far less interesting/complex than its predecessor. On top of this, it appears that there is no longer anybody who can run a Tandoori oven there, as both the Tandoori Chicken and the freshly-made breads had disappeared (the breads replaced by grocery-store imitations of the real thing). Dish after dish lacked depth, subtlety, and even competence (most of the bean and dal dishes ended up looking like refried beans rather than things in sauce). Very sad. I'm certain that the old guy would have been mortified at having this parody of Indian food being served in his name. To add insult to injury, the price of the now far-lesser buffet (in both options and quality) had been jacked up as well. All this and no gulab jamnun!
As you may have noticed, I've been falling behind a bit in passing along new The Job Stalker posts in here ... the one over there ===> is Friday's big dump of links. I have a new review/interview (well, you saw the review in here yesterday) going up tomorrow, so give this a clicky-clicky and look for that upcoming.