You know what the Twin Cities desperately needs? An exciting Indian restaurant. Aside from a few Hyderabadi restaurants that have opened lately, the Twin Cities—Indian dining scene has seemed really dull lately. You’ve got your northern-everything restaurants, with the chicken tandoori, shrimp jalfrezi, and tamarind chutney out of jars; and then you’ve got your southern-vegetarian restaurants, with lentil everything—and tamarind chutney out of jars. Sure, there’s the tiny, scrappy Kabobs, which actually specializes in Hyderabadi cuisine. For that matter, there’s Hyderabad House in northeast Minneapolis. But deep in my heart, I feel that Indian food is one of the world’s best cuisines, and we’re kind of missing out around here.
That all may be on the verge of changing. Why? Because Dancing Ganesha is scheduled to open April 29 in the old Willie’s Wine Bar spot (at the southern end of downtown Minneapolis, not far from Loring Park). The owners and consulting chefs tell me that Dancing Ganesha is going to be the Twin Cities first upscale, contemporary, ingredient-first Indian restaurant. That consulting chef is Twin Cities legend Heather Jansz, who ran St. Paul’s dearly departed Curry Leaf during the 1990s. The owner is Santal Vishwantha, who also owns Nala Pak, the Columbia Heights restaurant that many people believe offers the best southern-vegetarian Indian cuisine in Minnesota (and that many still refer to by its former name, Udupi).
So, what did they tell me? That Dancing Ganesha will have cocktails, a full bar, and a fine-dining Indian chef, a man who has been working in Texas, but previously worked in Singapore. That one Sunday a month, Heather Jansz may do a Sri Lankan night, which would mean that Twin Citians would have access to a real rijsttafel for the first time in, what, a decade? (If you are longing for rijsttafel right this second, you can arrange for Heather to cater one in your home. That’s what she’s been doing all these years: catering—and teaching private-cooking classes in people’s homes. She does some for groups of mothers and school-age kids that sound particularly interesting. Find more information at heatherjansz.com.)
But back to the restaurant. “We’re trying to have a different menu than the Bombay Bistros and New Delhi [restaurants] have,” Santal Vishwantha tells me. “Those people who want to stay in the chicken-tandoori comfort zone will find some familiar items, but for the explorers there will be another set of products.” Well, it’s about time. I’m sick of all this tamarind chutney in a jar.
Of course, forecasted restaurant openings are notoriously variable. Vishwantha tells me the best way to know when the spot is open will be to watch their website: www.dancingganesharestaurant.com.
1100 Harmon Place, Minneapolis