Exceptional Indian eats
Even with the arrival of the new Central Library and the Cowles Center, the Augies–Brass Rail–Gay 90s end of Hennepin Avenue has retained plenty of the area’s old Skid Row grit. In that context, Copper Pot, in the Lumber Exchange Building, feels like an especially welcome oasis. The cozy space has soft lighting, soothing Indian music, a friendly staff, and a menu worth having to detour around some boob relieving himself in the middle of the sidewalk. Copper Pot offers Indian standards such as tandoori chicken and saag paneer, as well as a lunch buffet, but distinguishes itself with dinner specialties rarely seen on local menus. Two seafood starters, for example, are pricier than samosas, but worth sampling. Meen varuval—fish fillets marinated in a paste of lemon juice, ginger, garlic, and fresh-ground spices—punches up typically bland fish fry. Blue crab smothered in coconut milk is coastal India’s answer to clam chowder. Bagara Baingan stews plum-size eggplants in a rich, chili-kissed peanut sauce. And Tellicherry Duck is a mod French-Indian fusion, offering slices of tender breast in peppery gravy. Just a few blocks away, the short-lived Om attempted to elevate local notions of Indian cuisine, but it reached too far, too fast. If Copper Pot can overcome its location, its timing may prove better.