Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Restaurant News

Gateway to India No. 2 in Bay Pines is as good as Sarasota sister

ST. PETERSBURG

Sam Kumar had four restaurants in his native Sydney, Australia, before he found himself heading over the Sunshine Skyway feeling like he was home. He relocated to Florida and opened Gateway to India on Hillview Street in Sarasota five years ago. Unlike a lot of Indian restaurants in the area, the spot was atmospheric and a bit hip, with a lively soundtrack (sometimes Bollywood, sometimes American pop), lavish tapestries draped from the ceiling and moody twinkling chandeliers.

It makes it on to most lists of "best Indian in Sarasota," partly because the restaurant is accommodating of vegetarians, gluten-free-ers and others with restricted diets, and partly because the broad menu is well executed and fairly priced. In the beginning of October, Sam and wife Beeta opened Gateway to India No. 2 in a lovely space on Bay Pines Boulevard that used to house Lanna Thai, which moved to Park Street.

It is cozy and sumptuously decorated, again with the hip soundtrack, and a nearly identical menu to its elder sibling an hour south. At lunchtime, there is a buffet, $10.99 Monday to Saturday, $12.99 on Sunday when the kitchen steps it up a little, offering interesting Indian street foods and some southern Indian specialties. The other six days, you'll usually find five vegetarian curries (one spinach, one mild korma; usually two mild and two a little spicier), one goat dish, chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, some kind of biryani or vegetarian pulao, and a couple of desserts, one hot and one cold. There are pakoras and chutneys and pappadam and naan, all the accoutrements to enliven an already fairly exciting meal.

Ordering straight off the menu, a few things become apparent: The kitchen likes layered flavors and creamy richness, seldom blowing the doors off with spice. The chicken korma ($14.99) is illustrative, the chicken breast chunks simmered in a cashew-sweetened creamy sauce, chicken Madras ($13.99) gets a similar treatment but with a coconut milk-based sauce and more savory spicing. Even the Goan-style lamb vindaloo ($15.99), with its slightly acidic vinegar and red chili flavoring is more nuanced than incendiary.

On a couple of visits, things emanating from the tandoor never disappointed: From a assorted tandoori platter ($19.99) with a couple of tender New Zealand lamb chops, bone-in thigh-drum chicken and swaths of boneless breast meat, and a few fat shrimp; to a variety of breads like the whole wheat paratha stuffed with potato ($2.99) or simple cilantro- and garlic-flecked naan ($2.99). The skewered lamb kabobs ($15.99), elegantly spiced, are also given attentive treatment in the tandoor, the resulting skewers juicy and smoky.

The Kumars are a dynamic presence in the dining room, urging their small staff to deftly attend to empty plates and to-go boxes. At meal's end, they may present you with a gratis gulab jamun ($4.25), among the more perplexing of Indian desserts. Bobbing in a cardamom-scented sugar syrup, the doughnut hole-like ball is actually a fried dumpling of Indian cottage cheese. The house rice pudding ($3.99), studded with nuts and raisins and with a subtle rosewater flavor, may be more accessible, as is the refreshing mango/yogurt lassi ($3.99).

Partly because this restaurant so closely follows the formula of the established one in Sarasota, Gateway to India doesn't feel like a new restaurant. It functions smoothly and already seems to have a loyal following. And while the menu will be very familiar to Indian-food veterans, its accessible approach to the classics will certainly prove an inviting gateway to rookies.

Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

   
Comments
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Published: 12/12/17
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

TAMPA Just a block away from CW’s Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city’s oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "...
Published: 12/11/17
Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

Food news: Byblos reopens in South Tampa, Arab food festival this weekend

REOPENING: BYBLOSYou know that hour before people show up for a dinner party where you think, "Holy smokes, I’ll never be ready in time. What was I thinking?" Nearly every restaurant opening, or reopening, is like that. I scooted by Byblos, a long-st...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

Florida Trend’s annual Golden Spoon awards were announced last week, honoring Florida’s best restaurants. Although Florida Trend serves the state’s business community, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17
Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Free iced coffee Monday as Dunkin’ Donuts offers #CupOfThanksFlorida

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving thanks to Floridians with a free small iced coffee on Monday.The #CupOfThanksFlorida promotion is aimed at thanking customers for weathering Hurricane Irma as some locations had to close or change their hours, according to br...
Published: 12/04/17
Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

Restaurant review: Clear Sky on Cleveland Global Bistro tries to cover every food on the planet

CLEARWATERAll three of the Clear Sky restaurants read like the work of someone who’s been paying attention to what folks want.Co-owner Dan Shouvlin has got the proper curriculum vitae (a background in TGI Friday’s, Chi Chi’s, Olive Garden and then a ...
Published: 11/30/17
Updated: 12/04/17
This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

This week’s food news: Clearwater Beach Uncorked, happy 25th birthday to Guppy’s

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: GUPPY’STwenty-five years for a restaurant is a stupendous achievement in an industry with a two-thirds failure rate. So let’s bake a cake for Guppy’s on the Beach, or at least go there and eat cake. It opened its doors at 1701 Gulf Bl...
Published: 11/29/17
Lolita's Wine Market in St. Pete is tasty, but good luck deciphering your bill

Lolita's Wine Market in St. Pete is tasty, but good luck deciphering your bill

So much charm packed into so little space. Lolita’s Wine Market is the latest in a string of endearing cheese-and-charcuterie-centric restaurants to open in St. Petersburg. It’s a tiny, adorable thing. There are grape-purple flower boxes...
Updated one month ago
Dining news: More poke coming, Frogman Feast raises money for SEALs and Gold Star families

Dining news: More poke coming, Frogman Feast raises money for SEALs and Gold Star families

FUNDRAISER: FROGMAN FEASTLast year, the first celebrity chef charity event called Frogman Feast raised more than $12,000 for Navy SEALs and their Gold Star families. Ken Bowen is spearheading the effort again this year from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 3 Da...
Updated one month ago