Next time you're craving a bowl of flavorful, spicy and creamy curry, a new restaurant in downtown Spokane has you covered.
The Mango Tree Kitchen + Tap House, which opened in the former Hills' Restaurant location in mid-May, serves a diverse offering of traditional Indian food, along with some American-Indian fusion dishes.
For those familiar with the Alberta-based chain's Coeur d'Alene location, opened last year, the food menu in downtown Spokane is identical, says regional operations manager Casey Garland.
The five-year-old regional chain, started in Medicine Hat, Alberta, by India native Rakesh Kaushal, mostly serves northern Indian cuisine, such as curries, samosas (savory stuffed and fried pastries) and naan bread.
Curry bowls, served with a side of basmati rice and plain naan bread, make up the bulk of the Mango Tree's entree section with 18 options ($15 each), ranging from familiar butter chicken, coconut chicken and tikka masala to vegetarian options like aloo ghobi (potato and cauliflower in onion sauce), bhindi masala (okra and onions in tomato sauce) and channa masala (chickpeas in tomato sauce).
There's also a portion of the menu devoted to grilled entrees ($15-$17), such as bone-in chicken marinated for three days, along with fish, steak, prawns, lamb chop and beef kebab. Each of those dishes come with rice, a small house salad and butter sauce.
Western and Indian ingredients collide in Mango Tree's take on the classic hamburger; the Indian Kitchen Burger ($12) is topped with lettuce, tomato, fried onions, mint and tamarind chutney. In the appetizer section, there's also wings ($12), butter chicken poutine ($13) and "naanchos" ($14).
Flatbreads made on naan also fuse American and Indian traditions. There's one with cheese ($10) and another with pepperoni ($11), which Garland says are great options for kids.
"We wanted people who enjoy Indian food to come in and enjoy it, but we feel like we can service [less experienced diners] as well."
For diners more familiar with Indian food, Garland suggests the veggie kofta ($15), with traditional Indian cheese sauce and vegetable rolls in a creamy tomato sauce. For those wanting to try something other than a traditional curry with meat, he recommends the daal makhani, a stew-like curry with black lentils in a buttery sauce.
When it comes to heat, the Mango Tree lets customers dictate how spicy they want a dish, starting with no spice (level 0) and going up to the spiciest (level 5). If that's not enough, guests can request a side of chile paste to customize at the table.
"Rakesh wanted to scale things back a bit because [many] people aren't used to that style of cooking, and he didn't want to make it so hot that it's turning people off to it," Garland says.
"Most of the curries, the tweaks we've done are on the spice level, and not just heat, but how much of certain Indian spices. For an inexperienced palate it can become overwhelming," he adds.
The Mango Tree also serves several rice dishes, including biryani rice with veggies ($14) or protein ($15-$17). Naan bread is also made with additional flavors (garlic, butter, vegetable, chicken, cheese and coconut; $2-$5); and there's whole-wheat roti bread ($2). A handful of salads and traditional Indian drinks (lassi, Indian coffee, masala tea) round out the menu.
The taphouse element of the Mango Tree is showcased with a selection of mostly regional craft beer and wine. While the Coeur d'Alene location doesn't serve liquor, the new downtown spot did maintain a license to serve spirits, although a house cocktail menu is still forthcoming.
Perhaps one of the best times to sample the Mango Tree's Indian fare is during lunch, from 11 am to 3 pm Monday through Saturday, when the restaurant offers a $13 lunch special that's quite a bargain. Dishes included in the special vary by day, but there's always one vegetarian option, Garland says. Customers can choose two of the three featured daily curries, which are each served as half-size portions of the regular menu, with a side of rice, naan and a small salad. ♦
The Mango Tree Indian Kitchen + Tap House • 401 W. Main • Open Sun-Thu 11 am-9 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm • themangotreerestaurants.com • 242-3943