WHAT: Om Restaurant
WHERE: 401 First Ave. N .
PRICE RANGE: $14-27
Friday's grand opening of Minneapolis' much-anticipated Om Restaurant proved a variety of truths. One is that the upscale environment is, perhaps, more for the white-shawled house-wife or dapper, bold-rimmed Gucci-spectacled young professional than, say, the 'Ramen Noodle' demographic that occupies Mesa Pizza on a given Friday.
Nonetheless, the sophisticated joint has a diverse menu of contemporary Indian Cuisine, coupled with a prime downtown location, across the street from Club Envy, a few blocks from the Target Center and First Avenue. Those with a significant other special enough to drop some downtown dough on will find Om to be a stellar choice.
The meals are courtesy of renowned chef Raghavan Iyer, who was born and raised in Bombay, has taught culinary theory all over the world and has published multiple award winning books concerning Indian cuisine, such as 2001’s “Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking” and last year’s “660 Curries.”
The two-story building has a bar on the main level, with some snug couches on which to enjoy drinks. The downstairs layer is a mystical Indian sanctuary in which workers, in their dark-as-night garments, move like spirits all across the space, putting a napkin under your glass before you can set it down, filling your water before it is half gone.
Om coalesces an assortment of cuisines from across India. The menu takes the consumer through a gamut of versatile and vibrant flavors that will kick your tongue in the mouth with spices and then tell it it's sorry with soothing sweets. Entrees come with a starter of Indian farfar, a deep fried noodle that essentially tastes like a classy Cheeto without the cheese, and comes with a savory spinach yogurt sauce.
The entrees range from $14-$27, and are worth every penny. Perhaps the best deal is in the delicious avocado stuffed chicken breast, with its palatable avocado inside a juicy eggplant-tomato sauce oozing out like cream from the middle of the perfectly tender chicken breast – for a mere $16. There is a menu of specialty cocktails, as well, one of which bears the name Karma, with the heavy amount of Jameson whiskey providing plenty of the good variety.
However, don’t let the name of the restaurant deceive you — this is no place to come and meditate. The only peace of mind you will receive at Om is in the unparalleled satisfaction that can only come from getting properly stuffed (what the Scandinavians call "oofta)." The only Nirvana that will be achieved is from the mystic aura of curry, which calls you in like a zombie from the sidewalk. Bad karma could only result from an angry digestive system, sore from being gluttonously stuffed with luscious Indian delights.
The grand opening was bustling with snazzy yuppies, well-off adults, and, oh yeah, former Twins All Star and current broadcaster for Fox Sports North, Ron Coomer. In his old age, 'Coom Dawg' has evidently found a new way to step up to the plate or, in his case, plates, and appeared to have enjoyed them very much.
In the end, Om Restaurant will not necessarily make consumers feel as if they have stepped into Mumbai, but rather into a worthy new restaurant in Minneapolis. It may not be food for Buddha, but it is good enough for Ron "Coom Dawg" Coomer. And that will suffice.
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