I remembered seeing something about a new Pakistani restaurant on Hillcroft and when I saw the Grand Opening banner for Haveli I went in to check it out. As I approached, I was wistfully remembering Sabri Nihari in the opposite corner of this u-shaped, double decker mall in Little India. Sabri was my first Pakistani restaurant and I still remember the Beef Nihari and the huge wedges of naan glazed with ghee which blew me away on my first visit.
Haveli is in a space larger than Sabri that used to be a nite club and is a bit more upscale.
The official name (per the website and as printed on the take-out menu) is a little misleading: Haveli is a buffet 7 days a week. The food looked better than I remember the buffet at Sabri and I dug in. Everything on the hot station was labeled and I got around to trying a little of most of the dishes. In the 11 o’clock position on the plate are small pieces of Tawa Chicken and Grill Fish. I took some Palak Paneer with toasted paneer, one of the best dishes that day and one of the best versions I’ve had, and some plain white rice, discovering on another visit the Chicken Biryani was a much better option. I also got an onion pakora, the spiciest thing I had that day. The Tandoori Chicken thigh was on the dry side; Frontier Chicken, looking like a Pakistani version of chicken fajitas with onions and bell peppers, was a much better option. (I did not take any pictures of my second visit).
I put some of the Beef Haleem in one of the cups provided for the Chicken Corn Soup, which I skipped. The Haleem was excellent.
Then I moved on to the salad/chilled station of the buffet, crowded in the corner of the room. With some mango pickle I picked up what I thought would be an idli, though I guess that would have been out of place on a Pakistani buffet. It turned out to be a sweet, chilled, and oozing simple syrup. Among the salads I took a simple diced cucumber, carrot and onion salad and what turned out to be, I suppose, a version of Raita with pieces of eggplant, onion, and either chilli pod (de-seeded and devoid of heat) or a pod from one of the pulses in chilled yogurt. I could have eaten a whole plate of just this. There was also a chilled chickpea salad with tomatoes, onions and cilantro that was very good and another sweet which was forgettable plus other salads and chutneys on this station. Unfortunately nothing on the chilled station was labeled, absolutely nothing at all, and I didn’t get the names of any of these
I have also tried Tawa Gosht which turned out to be excellent, better than the small sample of the Beef Nihari I tried. It didn’t look very appetizing so I had passed on it until the end and I wish I had had room for more.
I skipped a korma and a jalfrezi dish plus Butter Chicken, as I recall. I went for seconds on the Palak Paneer, Haleem, Frontier Chicken, Onion Pakora and Raita but only taking very small portions of (almost) everything.
There is a self-serve beverage station with Coke products and several tea options.
If you’re lucky you may score one of the covered spaces in the tunnel right in front of the door. Having a shaded parking spot in the middle of the day in a Houston summer is almost reason enough to go by itself.
I don’t go for buffets much anymore but they are a convenient way to try out new cuisines or restaurants or just to pig out, which I don't like to do. I still visit Fadi’s and Vishala and I think Haveli will also be an ongoing option. I’ll certainly give it a few more tries to see if my first impressions hold up.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
King's Chicken, known for its Pakistani dishes, naan, and fried chicken, has abandoned it's longtime place on Beechut just west of Wilcrest and moved way out on Highway 6, just north of Westheimer. It's now a sit-down restaurant.
The new name at the Beechnut location is Scarlotti's Eatery and Catering but except for a sign in the window advertising a 2 piece chicken deal, there's no indication what kind of food is served.
Johnathan's Grill Pampanga's in the International Food Court at the Viet Hoa Center on the West Belt at Beechnut is now La Fernandina's Grill Pampanga's. There are still just the two Filipino places side-by-side in the food court (the other is Pinoy Fast Food).
Haveli is a new Pakistani restaurant at 5901 Hillcroft. It's a buffet 7 days a week in a former nightclub space.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
The Frenchy's Fried Chicken on the Beltway at West Bellfort is open for business. Frenchy's has been adding locations all over town.
Acacia Food Market, the ambitious and impressive Turkish market on Wilcrest at the Southwest Freeway has closed. Since Istanbul Market on Hillcroft had closed after Acacia opened, there is not a dedicated Turkish grocery store in Houston that I know of. Best place to get things like soujouk, ajvar and lokum is probably Phoenicia on Westheimer.
Edit to add: Another option - Makkah Mart, 10560 Synott @ West Bellfort, Sugar Land
Lotus Seafood Market, 8550 S. Braeswood at Gessner got a rave review in Houstonia Magazine. It's rare for any place in our part of town to even be noticed by the foodie media. Dining in accommodations are very basic. The tales of long lines are true and the parking lot is usually crammed; it's best to call in an order and get it to go. Lotus Seafood Market on Facebook. There are pictures of the menu.
Ruchi's Taqueria on Gessner between 59 and Beechnut has become Jabastian's.
Edit to add:
I drove by the former Sheba Cafe location, 6521 Bissonnet @ Hillcroft, and saw the 'Open' sign lighted in the window again. I found a Facebook page. It's now called Habesha Cafe, an Eritrean restaurant, and apparently it's been open all along. The sign in the window says it's open 7 days a week. They must neglect to turn on the Open sign many days!
Panaderia y Pupuseria La Sultana has moved into the space formerly occupied by Panaderia Mexicana & Colombiana, 6039 Bissonnet. La Sultana was for a long time located in the center at Beechnut and Bissonnet that has been razed for an Aldi. It also housed a Central American grocery store at the former location but I don't know if that's the case here.
Mido, the Turkish/Middle Eastern sandwich shop at 6905 Bissonnet has closed.