Some restaurant locations just seem star-crossed. A new place opens up at the spot, seems to do well for a time, then closes, the building stands vacant for an extended period, and after a few years you’re trying to remember how many restaurants have actually operated in the space. So it is with a building at the corner of Spring and High in downtown Columbus, which once was a Wendy’s, and at one point was a nice tapas-type place with a bar and outdoor seating. Hey, has it been anything else?
Well, now the building houses Haveli Bistro, an Indian restaurant. Hope springs eternal!
JV and I visited the HB yesterday for lunch. The place was jammed with a lot of people who were angling for the buffet, and we had to wait briefly to be seated. It seems that diners have two options — a lunch buffet, upstairs, or ordering from a very limited lunch menu, downstairs. Because of the wait for the buffet, we chose the downstairs option, which allows you to choose from a non-vegetarian platter, a vegetarian platter, and a biryani platter. The specific items on your plate depend upon what’s being served that day, as disclosed on a typed sheet at the front counter, and it doesn’t appear that you can choose your spice level. (At least, we weren’t offered that option.)
JV and I went for the non-vegetarian platter, which turned out to be two chicken dishes, a chicken “lollipop,” rice, and two pieces of naan, with a dessert. The food was served on a kind of cafeteria platter that reminded us of the Swanson frozen dinners of days gone by, except that the platter was plastic instead of foil. (No “TV trays” in sight, however!) I’m not sure of the specific names of chicken dishes, but they were good and served at a moderate spice level, and the chicken lollipop was tasty and not overly breaded. I finished them all. The dessert was a kind of vermicelli disk soaked in a sweet liquid. I’m not a dessert guy so I tried a bite and decided I’d pass on the rest.
Lunch at Haveli Bistro isn’t really comparable to lunch at Indian Oven, with its full menu and terrific service, and my allegiance to IO as the best Indian restaurant in town, and one of the best Columbus restaurants, period, is unyielding. Nevertheless, the Haveli Bistro is a nice option for people downtown who have a taste for some ethnic food. Will the HB be able to exorcise the ghosts of restaurants past? Stay tuned.