When trying to come up with words that describe Kiran's Restaurant and Bar, the food, the staff, the experience, and Chef Kiran Verma; it was a daunting task to say the least! Yeah, it would have been easy to just say, "It's amazing" or "It's really good". However, it was much more than just these few words; it was somehow more of a feeling - in an epic kind of way (oh yes, we did hit you with epic). As we thought about it longer we realized that the feeling it evoked could be liken to trying to describe the word love. Yes, we know that this sounds all kinds of cheesy, but it's true. Staying on that same cheesy bus, we finally figured out how and which words to describe it. Have you ever heard the country song by Tom T. Hall, "I Love"?
I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain
I love little country streams, sleep without dreams, Sunday school in May,
And I love you too
I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends, birds in the world, and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, and grass and I love you too
Well as hooky and cheesy as that song may be; it makes you feel a certain way - good, comfortable, familiar, warm, and dare we say fuzzy. That is the same thing that Kiran's Restaurant does as well! It is just comfortable, and feels real good; not your typical fine dining restaurant in that sense.
We have dined at Kiran's many times and can honestly say before our first few visits, we had not had much exposure to Indian food in general. With its use of spices, curry, herbs, a wide variety of vegetables, and the many "meat" options; it is really a wonderful thing to experience. In addition, Indian cuisine can be a delight to the average vegetarian as vegetables account for a fairly significant amount of the ingredients used in many of the dishes. In fact, Kiran's offers a "Vegetarian Feast" that includes Paneer Makhni (Handmade Cheese with Tomato and Cream Sauce), Bagare Bengan (Tandoor Roasted Eggplant), Besan Kadi (Vegetable Dumplings), English Cucumber Raita (Yogurt and Cucumber combined with Herbs and Spices), Saffron Rice Pulao (Rice with Saffron, Spices, Nuts and Dried Fruit) and Paratha (Indian Flatbread).
If you are starting out and want to try some traditional Indian dishes, we recommend Chef Kiran's Chicken Tikka Masala (Tandoori chicken breast cooked in a creamy tomato sauce). The name "Tandoori" comes from the clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared. We have been able to witness first hand the love that Chef Kiran puts into making her fresh Chicken Tikka Masala, including the hundreds of juicy roma tomatoes, yogurt and various spices that result in the creamy rich flavor and bright orange color of this amazing dish. Kiran's also offers other Tandoori dishes including Duck, Shrimp, or Lamb Tandoori (we love) which are all served with Mushroom and Apricot Biryani and Seasonal Vegetables. Another must try is the Biryani. At Kiran's, the Biryani (rice) is cooked with spices and saffron and can be paired with Lamb, Chicken, Shrimp, Wild Mushroom, or Vegetables. Once you really understand the types of ingredients used and gain knowledge on the terms, we are sure Kiran's will quickly become one of your favorites.
And if you are still not sure how to embark on your journey of being an Indian cuisine "virgin no more", we would also suggest trying the six course Tasting Menu. We really enjoyed this menu and it was an easy choice on our initial visit. It comes with a Soup Flight (with three wonderful handmade soups), a Crab Cake, your choice of Tandoori Texas Quail or Tandoori Prawn & Dry Pack Sea Scallop, a Handmade Sorbet to cleanse your palate, your choice of Tandoori New Zealand Rack of Lamb or Tandoori Sea Bass, and you can finish it off with either the Cardamom-Spiced Chocolate Molten Cake or the Trio of Crème Brulee (Saffron, Cardamom & Pistachio). You really can't go wrong with the tasting menu and it represents a wide variety of Indian cooking techniques, flavors, and spices.
In addition to the dining area, the bar is not to be missed. If you don't have the time to grab a full meal, you can always visit Greg at the bar. Ask him to serve up one of Kiran's martini's prepared with their own in-house infused vodkas. The Veranda menu will allow you to enjoy a few quick bites and sip on a few cocktails; and the conversation is always great. We recommend the Lamb Sliders, any of the Stuffed Naans, and the Fresh Pineapple Martini (Fresh Pineapples and Tahitian Vanilla Bean-infused Vodka). We promise you will be hooked on Naan after your first bite.
Chef Kiran shared a story about her younger years and how she came to decide that cooking was her passion. Growing up, having childish ideas of being a chef we not taken lightly and as a matter of fact, were not supported at all; you were supposed to be a doctor or a lawyer. Sneaking and cooking with members of the family's staff was a daily treat for Chef Kiran. As the years progressed and she developed her skills and became an amazing chef and restaurateur, her mother began to see that her daughter really had something special. What was previously shunned turned into a career that was respected. Chef Kiran's mother is no longer here and missed the opportunity to see her daughter open Kiran's. However, you will find her watching over Chef Kiran everyday via the photo that adorns the entrance. After your first visit to Kiran's, you too we see this passion and come to know why Chef Kiran is one of the most loved chefs in Houston.
Watching chef move from kitchen to table, as she greets and mingles with guests is refreshing to see. You immediately forget you are at a fine dining establishment, and for a few minutes are taken to what feels like a dinner party in her home. This is the magic of this place in our opinion. A restaurant that on any given day could be filled with power brokers, ladies that lunch, couples celebrating their anniversary, or guys having a quick drink at the bar all just mixing and mingling in the same space. It's where folks seem to have checked their pretentiousness and egos at the door, so they can enjoy this wonderful experience of great food and service.
~ Urban Swank