Amol India • 354 Ludlow Avenue • Cincinnati, OH 45220 • (513) 961-3600
One afternoon last week we found ourselves in Clifton looking to try a new restaurant. As we drove down Ludlow Street, we found ourselves entering Little India—an inexplainable collection of Indian restaurants and an Indian market all within a block of each other. I love Indian food, but haven’t tried any yet in Cincinnati, so off we went into Amol India.
Amol India is located between Habanero and the Indian market that all share the same parking lot off Ludlow Street. You can enter either from Ludlow Street, where the front of the restaurant is, or from the parking lot. Our first impression of the restaurant was a warm one—by which I mean the hallway at the back entrance made us wonder whether the restaurant was actually air conditioned. Fortunately, as we made our way to a table, the front of the house felt much cooler and we decided they must have just been having trouble with the A/C because it was 90+ degrees outside.
Like almost every Indian restaurant I’ve ever visited, Amol India has a large lunch buffet spread with a collection of traditional meat, veggie, and bread dishes including Saag Paneer, Chicken Tandoori, Chicken Curry and Vindaloo, Vegetable Samosas, Naan, and more. I was impressed by the number of options and couldn’t wait to see how they tasted.
Fortunately, there was no wait at all for lunch—in fact, the restaurant seemed pretty empty even at 1pm—and my stomach was not disappointed. Each dish I tried was full of flavor, well cooked, and still warm (something many buffets just can’t handle). The chicken Curry and Chicken Vindaloo had plenty of kick to them, and the Naan was fresh out of the oven.
While the food was up to snuff, the service left a little to be desired. We quickly got the impression that our server was not too happy to be working in this restaurant. We half wondered whether this was a typical family-run establishment and the daughter-cum-hostess didn’t exactly wake up one morning dying to be a server. That said, given it was a lunch buffet, there wasn’t much work for the servers to do, and they did a fine job of keeping our water glasses full. The buffet was reasonable at about $9 per person.
We enjoyed the food and variety for our first visit, but given the other Indian (and other foreign) cuisine in the immediate area, we’ll probably try other places before frequenting Amol again.
Bored with bringing leftovers and sandwiches for lunch at work every day, we decided on a change of pace and a longer lunch break. We were already in Clifton, so we figured that we’d try out one of the (many) ethnic restaurants on Ludlow. We chose Indian food, and ended up at Amol India mainly because I turned into the Habanero parking lot, and they share the lot.
Our first impression of Amol India was less than positive: on a 90 degree day, the air conditioning did not seem to be working. It was uncomfortably hot, but only in the back of the restaurant, where the buffet was set up. In the front, where we were sitting, it was a bit warmer than is typical, but it was not unpleasant.
We took a look at the menu, and it was a fairly standard Indian restaurant menu: a large vegetarian section, lots of options, and reasonably priced. But we knew we were going for the lunch buffet, as did just about everyone else in the restaurant. Their lunch buffet was $8.50 for all-you-can-eat, and it had Naan, flavored rice, four vegetarian dishes, four carnivorous dishes, two soups, and some fruit and yogurt sauces for dessert. I was impressed!
The Naan was good. They brought out a new batch just before one of my trips to the buffet, and the fresh from the oven ones were fantastic. I’m usually a big fan of flavored Naan, but these plain ones were good enough for me. I also had good servings of the Coley Masala (chick peas in a red sauce) and Saag Pneer (cheese cubes in a creamy spinach sauce). Both had a little bit of an after-kick, but nothing too spicy. The spinach sauce was very good on its own, but I wish there had been more cheese cubes. My first trip to the buffet, I thought I was just getting the bottom of the pot, and that other people had picked out the cheese, but right after they refilled it (my second trip to the buffet), there really wasn’t much more cheese. It was good anyway.
I was certainly stuffed by the time I left! I wouldn’t say this was the absolute best Indian food I’ve ever had, but it was a buffet with lots of selection, and the food was certainly good. The service was fine on the surface—our water glasses were constantly refilled, and empty plates would be removed before you returned from the buffet (again), but the waitresses did not seem so happy to be there. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt—they were working in a lightly air conditioned restaurant, and it was quite warm in parts—but smiling or greeting customers would be a nice improvement. Nonetheless, the food was good, it was convenient, and I’m sure we’ll be back to check out what’s on the buffet another day!