I can only give Mantra on the Hill the highest of compliments. And that's saying a lot because I really like to whine about Mt. Adams.
The experience at this restaurant was truly top-notch (and not in that yelp-overused sense of the term). The service was nearly flawless, right down to the wine service. Oh yeah, bottles are priced at retail with only a $10 corkage.
The food was phenomenal and well-priced. We ate everything. And we had ordered a lot. I'm going to have to pace myself next time.
Another indicator of a fantastic restaurant is that I kept thinking about what out-of-town guests I want to bring here. It's hard to believe there's a place like this in Cincinnati.
I can only hope that the food, wine and service continue to operate at this high level. It's a new restaurant and they may just have their A game going right now. Keep it up, mantra!
Now for the recos. All of these dishes I tried and loved: papri chaat salad (not exactly like a typical papri chaat, but completely delicious), Imli Baingan (eggplant chips with holy-goodness-that-date-sauce-is-amazing sauce), Basil & Garlic naan, Roti, Paunch Puran paneer, Tarka Daal (a little soupy, but great flavor), Kabuli Channa.
And the winning dish of the night... far and away the most tasty, the most memorable: Crispy Charchari. It's the okra dish and you need to do yourself a favor and try it.
Visited Mantra on the Hill in Mt Adams on first night open. This is takes over Daveed's location and exceeds all expectation of contemporary Indian. Fantastic, small setting - with Paula Wiggins art on the wall I noted. Staff was excited and while working out the kinks - fantastic for opening. My wife and I slant vegan with our diets - so we were excited with many options. The cold cucumber amuse bouche was really nice start. The Mulligatawny is a spicy lentil soup - and it was phenomenal. The Mantra Salad looked a bit small - but really had a lot of flavor for a "house salad". We then had Roti and Mango Chutney. For entree I had the Bagara Baingan - which is baby eggplant. Seemed the chef was going a little light on Indian spices to get a broader reach. For me, I would like it kicked up a bit more. However, my wife's Gobi Charchari - which is cauliflower was great! They serve a basmati rice separate and the entree in hammered tins - that made a really nice appearance.
It looks like a very cool late night menu - for those finishing at Playhouse in the Park, Blind Lemon, Monk's Cove or The Chapter later in the evening! Great addition with some variety to Mount Adams.
Yajan Upadhyaya is BACK with Mantra on the Hill. His use of spice and flavors is magical. We left the restaurant by making our next reservation - what better compliment than that? We started out dinner with Papra Chat. My wife could have made this her meal alone. Our entrees included Jhinga Peri Peri Kebab, Chicken Vindaloo and Tarka Dal. Our bread selection was Garlic Basil Naan. We had a hard time not selecting Murgh Daniwal ... next time. Each dish brings with it a 'seasoning surprise' - as mentioned before, the chef's command of flavors is second to none. We were not disappointed with any of our selections. This restaurant opening is like finding a long lost friend. Go there and Enjoy!