An Indian Buffet at lunch time, this might make you think that the food quality would be less. Even I did not expect too much at first. Maybe it would surpass the quality of Chinese buffets, but would it reach restaurant quality for only $11?
I could only find out by trying it out.
Entering Jackson Diner I noticed they have a color theme of red and brown. The outside of the restaurant is misleading. While it seems cheap with plastic looking red doors and signs promoting their Indian Buffet, the inside is full of rich browns and little red accents. The buffet is to your right, the bar to our right. Along the walls you see chimes, sculptures, and other cultural art pieces. Looking closer to these pieces you can see how much work went into their tiny metallic details or wood cut images. The buffet is an interesting experience in itself. Lining the wall are insets containing cultural artworks. A glistening green almost mosaic centers the buffet section with art pieces and statues in square insets to it’s left and right. The owner Mr. Singh is a sweet man. He explained how he purchased all the pieces personally from India. In a bustling place like this I felt that the artwork could be overlooked. Coming from a family of artists and craft dabblers, the delicate details caught my eye.
While picking your buffet dishes to the background music of Bollywood songs and people chatting, mostly Indian but there are plenty of non- Indian customers as well; they have grouped the dishes from a straight line towards the entrance, the first half being vegetarian and the latter half being the meat section. At the very end is salad and rice pudding. A very simple, thoughtful and efficient presentation.
The best thing about a buffet is that if you do not know what to get you can just settle for a little bit of everything. First plate was rice, with tandoori chicken, chicken tiki marsala, cabbage, Curry Pakoda, and salad. They also give you unlimited naan and water. As colorful as the plate was it all surprisingly balanced each other out.
The Naan was soft and just a little crispy at the edges. Just the way I like it. No cheap pita bread-like substances here.
The curry and chicken tiki marsala worked well with the rice. I would have liked a little bit of each on my fork and then follow it with a bit of cabbage. The cabbage was plain but had a slight flavor, as cabbage should. It balanced out the powerful flavors from the chicken dishes.
While people always say to me that they love Chicken Tiki Marsala what won me over was the Tandoori chicken. The deep red color led me to think it would be spicy but the level of spice was just enough to tease your tongue but not burn it. The chicken was tender and I could almost peel sections of it off because it was that well cooked. There was a bone in the center which usually turns me off but the bone was soft and broken. It was easy to take out and added to the chicken’s well cooked testament. I have gone to Italian restaurants that charge $15 dollars per dish (that being cheap) and was given dry unlovable chicken. For $11 I could have this Tandoori chicken all I wanted. Jackson Diner really impressed me.
The rice pudding was the last thing I had to try. I could find nothing wrong with it. Inside they had grapes and cashews, which added a very sweet touch.
The summary of my visit to Jackson Diner and trying out their $11 buffet: Great food. Great price. Lovely art pieces. Sweet Owner. I’m definitely coming back.
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Sophia, Rochester Institute of Technology
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