Indian Express

The hype: Everyone knows Michelin-starred The Song of India, but how many have chanced upon the establishment’s casual dining eatery on Racecourse Road? They may be lacking a coveted star, but the finesse and imagination that goes into the menu of familiar eats here is no less worthy.

The vibe: The cosy second concept blends in seamlessly with the row of Indian eateries lining Racecourse Road, and is certainly more welcoming if you find the white double doors of its parent establishment intimidating. A neat little bar section stands at attention in the corner if you need tipples.

The food: A clear step away from fine dining, the menu headed up by executive chef Umed Singh (trained under Michelin-starred chef Manjunath Mural) is all about comforting, homestyle North Indian dishes.

Dive right in with the Kashmiri Lamb Wazwan ($14)—marinated tender lamb rack that falls easily off the bone, right onto the plate it’s served on; a curry version is available in the Lamb Shank ($16). Indian Express seems to have a knack for handling lamb, but if you need options, the Tandoori Mixed Grill Platter ($19) of lamb kebab, chicken and fish is a good sharing plate. For a taste of authentic North Indian street snacks, order the Punjabi Samosa ($7) or Papdi Chaat ($7), a popular vegetarian Indian-style nacho.

On to the curries, which in our books should be how every North Indian restaurant is evaluated by. The classic Butter Chicken ($14), decadently creamy, doesn’t disappoint, but it’s the Muglai Fish Curry ($12) and Prawn Masaledar ($18) that surprisingly outshine the former. Both surfacing the intricate spice blends of the curry without eclipsing the flavour of the respective meats, they make great dips for the Assorted Naan ($2.50-$3). For Palak Paneer ($10) fans, the rendition here is more cottage cheese than spinach; it can easily work as a standalone side.

The cuisine may typically favour sweet desserts, but the wintertime pudding Carrot Halwa ($4.50) is a pleasant rule-breaker made of ghee, milk and sugar. You’ll be shocked at how quickly the bowl of stringy dessert goes.

The drinks: There’s your usual Lassi ($4) in a handful of flavours, plus warm Masala Tea ($3) to aid with the food coma after. Or go nuts with the affordably priced bar menu, that includes beers, wines at $28 a bottle, and spirits like Jack Daniels ($7) and Macallan 12 Years ($12).

Why you’ll be back: With prices comparable to your regular coffeeshop eateries, it wouldn’t make sense to pay for anything less than the quality here. Thanks to the guiding hand of Chef Mural, Indian Express proves that you can deliver flavour and class without the Michelin-starred price tag