Overall impression: In the almost three years since they opened Copper Chimney, owners Gurvinder and Jasmine Oberoi have gained quite a reputation for their Indian restaurant. It's built on fresh, made-to-order authentic cuisine, top-notch service and a dining room that takes it cues from high-end restaurants instead of so many other Indian restaurants. This isn't an all-you-can-eat buffet, and its prices reflect that fact. It's the kind of Indian restaurant you visit for special occasions.
Ambience: Tucked into a corner of a busy plaza, Copper Chimney is next door to a Russian delicatessen, so lots of Russian is spoken in the restaurant. Every time I come here, the Oberois are at the door, welcoming guests and keeping any eye on the dining room. Tables are covered in white linens. Low-slung sofas were added a year ago. It can be hard not to not watch the scenes from Bollywood musicals on a big screen in the corner. Chandeliers cast a faint blue light. Dishes are presented on oversize white plates and bowls.
Starters: Mulligatawny soup ($8) and Chimney salad with tandoori chicken, mixed greens, nuts and pomegranate dressing ($11) start the menu. But I much prefer the potato-and-green-pea-filled samosas ($6) and the potato pancakes ($8), stuffed with deliciously seasoned paneer.
Entree excellence: The menu is mainly North and South Indian. But one section is devoted to the mash-up of Indian and Chinese cuisine. This is a busy kitchen, so we understand when the South Indian dosa ($15) arrives much later than most of the other food we order. This crispy, fermented rice crepe dosa is stuffed with spicy potato and served with coconut-curry sambal. It's a delicious mess to eat. Murgh makhani ($19) combines tender chicken breast simmered in buttery tomato sauce with a faint flavor of cashews. Rogan josh ($19) is curried lamb with almonds. The sauce is much more deeply flavored than other curries. Chana masala ($12) is a satisfying vegetarian dish with chickpeas in a tomato-onion sauce. I was disappointed in the thin dal tadka ($10), but the flavor was incredible when we dipped garlic naan ($5) into the soupy mixture. The showstopping dish at Copper Chimney is biryani ($14-$19): basmati rice casseroles filled with the meat or fish of your choice. The vegetarian biryani is my favorite. Food can be prepared from mild to very hot.
Service: Outstanding. Water glasses are automatically refilled. Dirty plates are promptly removed.
Liquid assets: King Fisher beer ($7) is served in ice-cold glasses.
Expanding: The Oberois will celebrate the third anniversary of Copper Chimney in December by opening a second location in downtown Miami. The Sunny Isles Beach 250-seater will remain, but the new restaurant will seat 700 people in close to 13,000 square feet.
RK Plaza, 18090 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs, boosters, menu items on request
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lotCopyright © 2015, South Florida