Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mehndi and SM23

Valentine’s Day for two single girls is a great opportunity to go out for a fancy dinner, movie, and drinks. Last Saturday my friend Janessa and I decided to treat ourselves to a fantastic meal at Mehndi, an Indian restaurant in Morristown, New Jersey, followed by cocktails at SM23. Mehndi had been recommended by my friend Randy who is from the area (see my post on blackened tilapia tacos for more Randy awesomeness), and I’m so glad she gave me the heads up! Mehndi was some of the best Indian food I’ve had in a while, and the classy atmosphere was just what we needed for a single girls Valentine’s celebration.

For appetizers we ordered Maachli Koliwada and the Makkai and Papadum. The Maachli Koliwada was deep-fried tilapia with cracked spices and a lentil marinade. They were kind of like fancy fish sticks with a little extra kick. Nice and tasty.

The Makkai and Papadum was corn, okra, green chili, onion, and tomato with lentil crisp. The makkai reminded me of a salsa dip with different veggies in it. It wasn't spicy unless you got one of the dried chilies, and then it was really spicy! Now I enjoy high levels of spiciness, but you probably shouldn't eat a whole chili unless you really love heat. The crispy lentil papadum was perfect for scooping up the makkai.

And no Indian meal is complete without some delicious Indian bread. We tried the rosemary naan. I’d never tried naan with rosemary on it, but it was pretty great.

We split an entrée and opted for the Bhuna Gosht, which came with pan-roasted lamb, bay leaf, green cardamom, cinnamon stick, ginger, and garlic paste. I absolutely love lamb, so it’s usually what I ordered when I go out for Indian food. They just know how to do it right. The lamb was nice and tender and the curried sauce was quite delightful. Janessa had never tried lamb before, and I think this dish was the perfect introduction to the wonderful world of lamb meat. It was served with rice and two types of chutney.

Mendhi also has beautifully crafted cocktails. It is connected with SM23, which is a swanky bar located right next door that makes all the drinks for Mehndi. I ordered an Asian Influence, which was composed of Belvedere vodka, lychees, apple juice, ginger, elderflower cordial, and kaffir lime leaves. Janessa ordered the Gin Gin Mule with Plymouth gin, ginger beer, fresh mint, lime juice, and simple syrup. We realized later that our drinks had been accidentally switched, and I’d ended up with the Gin Gin Mule and she got the Asian Influence, but we were happier with the cocktails we ended up with anyways, so it was all good.

Gin Gin Mule

Asian Influence

The atmosphere was beautiful and the food and drinks were delicious, but the only weird thing about the evening is that our server gave us each a little hug at the end of the night. I’ve never had a server hug me before, so it was a little strange—not necessarily awkward just out of the ordinary. Who know…maybe it’s a Jersey thing?

After seeing a truly awful movie (The Roommate), we stopped back at SM23 to check out the bar. This time I tried the English Garden with Plymouth gin, elderflower cordial, cucumbers, apple juice, and simple syrup. I also got an Apple Chili Cucumber cocktail with Belvedere vodka, apples, apple juice, cucumber, elderflower cordial, lemon juice, and chili. I enjoyed the light, floweriness of the English Garden, but the Apple Chili Cucumber was probably my favorite of the night. Spicy drinks are always interesting, and this one had the perfect level of spice for a cocktail. The coolness of the apple and cucumber also added a nice balance to the spiciness of the chili. 
English Garden

Apple Chili Cucumber

Mehndi and SM23 are great places for a nice night out when you want to treat yourself to some quality Indian food followed by some creative cocktails at a truly classy bar in north Jersey.

Mehndi on Urbanspoon


  1. Wait... you shouldn't eat the whole chili pepper? See... you should have posted this blog BEFORE we went there.

    It was a GREAT night out though. So glad we did it.

  2. the Apple Chili Cucumber martini is my favorite one too!!!!!!! excellent choice :) glad that you finally made it to Mendhi! now you have to try Ming II :)