630 Church St.
There is such a thing as a free lunch. Really. I saw a sign in the window of Mt. Everest, Evanston’s only Indian/Nepalese restaurant, offering a free lunch buffet for charity, so I decided to give it a go. I was not surprised to find that the restaurant was packed to the brim with hungry students and local residents when I arrived at 2:30. However, they were seating everyone together at communal tables, as to speed the turnover. I ended up sharing a table with a nice couple and their very cute (and gastronomically-adventuresome) 1-year old daughter. Mt. Everest’s dining room is comfortable and low-key with wooden tables and soft lighting – the buffet is tucked away unobtrusively in an alcove in the corner.
When seated, we made a beeline to the buffet, which I had never tried, but is normally priced at $9. I passed on the limp salad bar and went straight to the hearty grub. There was a nice spread even at 2:30, a satisfying mix of Indian and Nepalese items:
Tandoori Chicken – Generally good flavor, but the chicken was rather dried out and a little mild for my tastes. Chicken Makhani – The creamy tomato sauce with butter was delicious, and wonderful to sop up with naan. However, there was little chicken swimming in the creamy sauce. Palak Paneer – Spinach with cubes of fresh cheese and a ginger sauce. The sauce was tasty and the cheese tender. Mixed Vegetable Pakora – The pakora consisted of lightly battered and fried potatoes, carrots and peppers, which would appeal to any fans of tempura. For dessert there was Carrot Kheer– An unusual rice pudding concoction with carrots. This sweet orange-colored dish was the favorite of the youngest diner.
Aloo and Bodi – potatoes and green beans sauteed onion and tomatoes. According to the menu, this dish contains “traditional Nepalese spices,” I could taste ginger, paprika and some lime. This dish was tasty and had a different flavor profile from the usual Indian offerings. Khasi Ko Masu (Goat meat) – I’m not much a fan of goat meat, so I did not particularly like this dish. I thought I’d try it to broaden my horizons, but still not a fan of goat.
There was a large basket of Naan on the table (something the restaurant usually charges extra for, a bugaboo of mine), so I was extra happy. After donating some money to the Nepalese children’s fund, I said goodbye to my dining companions, pleased with my meal. Mt. Everest does a pretty good job with Indian favorites and offers some unusual Nepalese dishes. My one complaint is that perhaps some of the dishes were a bit too mild, but I’m sure the kitchen would spice up your order if you asked. But really, who doesn’t like a free lunch (for a good cause)?