But vindaloo is generally hotter and sharper than its sibling, and here it was markedly gingery, too. (Vindaloo comes from Goa, once a Portuguese colony, and, as the name implies, wine was a long-ago ingredient. In these postcolonial days, some kind of mild vinegar is generally used.)
As so often is the case in Indian restaurants, vegetarian offerings are strong and varied enough to banish any vagrant yearnings for meat. The only one of these dishes we found wanting was, surprisingly, the palak paneer ($11), lightly spiced spinach cooked with chunks of cheese. The spicing here consisted mostly of nutmeg, which really didn't have the wattage to compete with chana masala ($9), chickpeas cooked in a spicy tomato-curry sauce. Somewhere between these two extremes lay the mattar kurchan ($10 at lunch, with a disk of poori), cubes of cheese cooked with green peas in a moderately athletic tomato sauce. The sauced cheese would have been excellent spooned over the poori to make a kind of pizza, but I didn't think of that in time. And it would have been tricky to eat.
How about dessert after all that? We stuck to the ice creams and were well satisfied: two scoops of peach-colored lucuma ($5) and a plate of kulfi ($6), flavored with saffron, cardamom, pistachio, and rosewater, shaped into a sausage, frozen, and sliced like a banana.
As we were getting up to leave, the disputatious person seated to my right said, "It's good, but not as good as Metro Kathmandu." I felt obliged politely! to dispute this diss. Roti is quite as good in its way as Metro Kathmandu, and that's saying something. (It's also indisputably better-looking, and that's saying something else.) The death of Tallula was a real loss but, as Roti proves, not an unredeemed one.
Dinner: Sun.Thurs., 510:30 p.m.; Fri.Sat., 511 p.m.
Lunch: Tues.Sat., 11:30 a.m.2 p.m.
53 West Portal, SF
Beer and wine
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