We heard rumors that there was an Indian restaurant in Eden Prairie that was doing good work, and in spite of its location in a strip mall near a massive (and growing) business park, we decided to check it out.
That turned out to be a good decision. It’s not much to look at, but Bay Leaf Indian Cuisine is putting its efforts into its food, and who can argue with that?
Bay Leaf’s dinner menu is extensive, but it seemed that the best way to get a feel for what they’re doing was to try the midday Business Lunch ($10, plus $1 for lamb entrees). It’s a heaping platter of food that includes white rice, an appetizer, two curries, beans or lentils, biryani, raita, and dessert. Ordering two of these platters gave us the chance to try nearly everything being offered the day we visited. The staff was helpful and friendly, willing to take time to explain the dishes to customers who were unfamiliar with Indian food.
Across the board, we were pleased with the quality of the food, especially considering that at the lunch hour, it’s served in a setup like an Asian fast-food counter at a shopping mall food court. The meats were nicely cooked, not overdone and dry, and the sauces were all flavorful, tasting fresh and homemade. Bay Leaf roasts and blends its own spices, and the cooks are generous with flavorings. There was nothing we tried that we judged to be spicy-hot enough for most diners, although a couple of dishes did have a slow-burning aftertaste. Servers told us that when people come for the evening menu service, they can ask to have the heat turned up or down.
While we liked everything, there were three standouts. The Chicken 65 (left photo below, upper left dish) packed the most heat of the dishes we tried, although again, not overwhelmingly. The bright-red yogurt sauce is a powerful concoction of fresh curry leaves, garlic, and various chilies, and the chicken bites were tender and juicy. It would be fun to order this from the menu and ask them to spike the spice level.
Another chicken dish, Butter Chicken (left photo below, center left dish), was also a clear favorite, a comfort food if ever there was one. The decadent butter-tomato-yogurt sauce was generously flavored with a garam masala that gave off just the tiniest bit of afterburn.
Finally, the lamb curry (right photo above, upper right dish) certainly did not taste like something seasoned out of a jar, and the lamb itself had a flavor more akin to beef. It lacked the fully earthy, somewhat gamy flavor lamb can sometimes have. There was plenty of ginger and garlic, with notes of coriander and cumin.
Bay Leaf has acquired the space next door and plans to expand in 2017. Given how busy it was on a weekday at lunchtime, that seems smart.
Bay Leaf Indian Cuisine, 6403 City West Pkwy, Eden Prairie, MN 55344; 952.426.0215; Mon-Thu 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Sat 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Sun 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.