Annapurna: a taste of India with a pinch of tackiness
I am not an Indian food enthusiast. I can take it or leave it. Luckily, for those who love Indian food, there are quite a few options (by Brno standards). Annapurna is the most popular, by virtue of their killer location. It’s fair to say they are the most conveniently located Indian joint in town.
While convenience is a great start, the real star is their menu. They have fantastic food. I have been there five or six times and have sampled dozens of dishes. They are always satisfying.
Last week a group of us went there for my friend Tatiana’s birthday. They put us at a 12-person table on a little dais in the back. Apparently, the two options for lighting were ‘air raid blackout” or “blinding interrogation lights”. We opted for the romantic darkness. But more about that later.
We ordered a bunch of onion bajis and naan breads to start off the meal. Both of these are home runs. You must start your meal there with the onion baji. The dips are great, with a mild choice and bold spicy one. I always go for garlic naan when I’m in Annapurna.
For me, the biggest pull to go to Annapurna are the spices. My friends can tell you how much I love hot food. Annapurna is a rare oasis in this spice desert I call home. Invariably, I go for one of the hottest choices on the menu. This time, it is lamb fal. The meat was savory, the sauce tangy and there was serious heat in that dish. I also tried some chicken madras that tasted great. If you have a sweet tooth, order the mango lassi as a drink or dessert.
So why don’t I love Annapurna? They have a powerful 1-2 punch of horrid service and embarrassingly bad décor. After making your way through their convoluted entrance (in their defense, old buildings don’t give you many options), you make your way into the main dining hall. It reminds me of a bad summer camp dining hall.
Seemingly every time I go there, the service gets worse. I know that a large table is not the easiest “cover” but they made us feel unwelcome there. The waitress would pout every time we asked for another drink or dish.
After waiting 20 minutes for my water and lassi, I finally went up to the bar where I saw them sitting for ten minutes and took it myself. The service and décor is so bad it becomes a fun sideshow to eating there. Maybe that’s what the owners planned.
At the end of the day, though, Annapurna is a good choice to satisfy your Indian itch. The food never disappoints, there is a varied menu and the prices are very fair. If you are on a budget, beware of the great fixings. I love naan bread, lassis and rice, but they add up. The main dishes are fairly priced, but you can end up spending just as much on the extras as the main dish.