I've been spending a lot of time this summer going to Stuttgart's various festivals and enjoying picnicking in the warm weather out in the Schlosspark. As a result, I've felt that my restaurant adventures have fallen to the wayside. It was with this feeling that I decided I had to tackle something on our growing "Restaurants to Try" list and chose Restaurant Vinayaga (recommended to me by Kaffee und Kuchen).
Ever since we moved to Stuttgart, we've kept our eye out for good Indian food. To be fair, I've never been to India, and so my understanding of Indian food is limited to what I've enjoyed in the States and the UK (both of which I think have been of rather high quality, though with little distinction between regional variations in cuisine). Up until now, we've generally stuck with Laxmy, which has been decent for takeaway, and in the past I've found Ganesha to be good, but not great.
With all this in mind, I was hesitantly optimistic when we entered the restaurant for dinner this past week. I did make a reservation, but it seemed not to have been necessary as the brightly decorated restaurant was busy but not packed for a Tuesday night. We were immediately seated at a table for two and shown menus. Already I could tell that the waiters were more attentive than the ones during our last dinner at Ganesha; they kindly gave us the time we needed to peruse the menu without rushing us or acting bored.
After ordering drinks, our waiter brought us some fresh, crunchy papadums and a sauce caddy with a homemade yogurt-mint sauce, tamarind sauce, a mango chutney, and another kind of spicy chutney. Like bread served at your table, it's something I've come not to really expect in Germany, but which I enjoy as a way of building anticipation for the meal to come. Soon thereafter, my appetizer of Onion Bhaji came out. Like at Ganesha, these were shaped like onion rings and not like the balls of fried onion shavings that I love from Laxmy. The quality of the chickpea breading was much better, though.
When we were finished, our waiter whisked away our empty appetizer plate and the papadum basket, and set a couple of warming platters on our table for our entrées. My husband's sizzling Mixed Grill came out first. It's a dish that I've never ordered, but something that he enjoyed on a recent trip to Birmingham in the UK. Vinayaga's mixed grill consisted of chicken, lamb, squid, and shrimp with a side of basmati rice and a tomato-based sauce. He found the chicken to be a bit dry and the squid not as fresh as in the UK (which makes sense given our inland location), but the flavor of both the grilled meats and the sauce were good.
For my entrée, I enjoyed the Chicken Bhindi or chicken with okra in a garlic, ginger, coconut milk, and curry sauce. The sauce had a lot of flavor and complexity, which was a nice contrast to the simple sauces at Laxmy that can sometimes verge on being overly sweet. I especially liked the okra, which was cooked perfectly soft but still with a slight crunch, and the fresh flavors of the ginger and curry leaves. I was also impressed by the level of spice; they advertised the dish as being scharf (hot), and unlike Ganesha, I could taste the heat.
Perhaps the best surprise, though, was the Garlic Naan. Finally, we've found a restaurant that can cook a decent naan that's both crispy in the middle for scooping up sauce and fluffy around the edges for sopping up the remainders on the plate. The bread was also sufficiently studded with fresh garlic to give a perfect balance of flavor.
All-in-all, there was some room for improvement. However, I enjoyed our meal and feel that this was one of the best Indian meals that we've had in a long time. I would like to go back to Vinayaga again to try more of their dishes, but until then, I feel confident enough to say that this is probably my new favorite in Stuttgart, and one that I plan to make our go-to for Indian cravings.
Restaurant Vinayaga is located in Stuttgart-Ost just a block from the Bergfriedhof U-Bahn station along the U4 and U9 lines. They feature a lunch buffet on weekdays for just 6,90€ from 11:30 to 14:00, and then open again for dinner from 17:00 to 23:00. They are also open for Saturday lunch and dinner at the same times and on Sundays from 12:00 until 23:00. Reservations can be made online or takeaway meals ordered over the phone, and they happily allow you to bring your dog.