Food & Drink: Spice Splendor

New Indian joint in Sausalito is naan pareil

Sartaj India Café by Lotus in Sausalito is the newest addition to Surinder Sroa’s collection of North Bay restaurants. After spending more than a year making multiple improvements to the space, Sroa has reopened the longtime Sartaj India Café on Caledonia Street with a pared-down menu of North Indian favorites.

Sroa spends most of his time at his flagship restaurant, Lotus Cuisine on Fourth Street in San Rafael, which he opened in 1998. Family members help out at the other outposts and as Sroa has gotten older, he has shifted his menus to a leaner model. “I’m going in the direction of reducing the size of my menus and offering more seasonal specials,” Sroa says. He’s committed, he says, to incorporating as much organic meat and vegetables as possible into his carefully sourced menus.

Much like the Sroa-owned Café Lotus in Fairfax, Sartaj focuses on curries—chicken, seafood, lamb and vegetable versions all show up on the menu. The chicken tikka masala is a favorite, as is the saag paneer made with organic spinach. Tandoori or sizzling grilled kebabs are also available, and naan is offered in eight flavors (several are gluten-free).

The bright reds and greens that adorn the exterior at Sartaj extend to the interior, which can host nearly 39 diners at a time. A few tables spill out to the sidewalk, and soon (they are waiting for the liquor license), beer and wine will be available in addition to the yogurt lassi and chai currently offered.

Sausalito residents can once again enjoy the satisfying flavors of cardamom, curry, cilantro and more, rendered locally. For travelers to Sausalito’s Caledonia Street, with its upscale corner market and high-caliber restaurants, it shouldn’t take much arm-twisting to coax a visit to this new Indian eatery.

Sartaj India Café by Lotus, 43 Caledonia St., Sausalito; 415/332-7103;

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