I have this theory about food. The further east you go, the better it gets. If this is true, then Old Town Alexandria, despite the recent influx of award winning chefs, is really hurting by a lack of restaurants featuring cuisines from India.
Doing her part to remedy the situation is Monisha Chakrobortty, owner of Chakra Cafe. Located next to Balducci’s at the corner of S. Washington and Franklin, this new restaurant held its grand opening this part Saturday. I ate there this week and can say I will be back.
In a region where returning expats appreciate ethnic foods, Chakrobortty has created a culinary destination that will please those who love Indian cuisine. There’s enjoyment on several levels. First of all, isn’t it great these doors have finally swung open after a three-year absence following Farrah Olivia’s departure?
The menu features traditional Indian fare, as well as a lineup of items from Bengal, the region where Chakrobortty’s parents grew up. In fact, she likes to call her food, “Bengali-Indian fusion.”
The menu has plenty to choose from. Customers arriving with UNC or DUKE pasted on the rear of their SUV will be delighted to know Chakra serves hush-puppies, deep fried and flavored in a way Bubba never knew but will enjoy if he tries them.
Same for the Ghugni. Many of us might mispronounce it (“Goog-nee”), but not to worry. If you like chickpeas, onions, beef and cumin, you’ll love this dish. The Butter Nut Squash with five Bengali spices is also a palette pleaser, and our favorite so far is the Keema Samosa. Best finger food ever, and these are tasty and crispy.
My only disappointment from my initial visit was the Corn Hash. I had visions of something like my Mom’s fried corn, but this is simply kernels cooked in a broth that does work once you realize it is not hash.
So we welcome this new restaurant to Old Town. If you like, we can discuss my theory over coffee and muffins. Chakra serves those too.