Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro can be a pain to get to. If you’re heading North on Simms the journey will necessarily require a u-turn and some further confusion in order to reach the place. Only after several trips will the uncertainty and exasperation cool. The place is clearly visible from the highway, but as you draw closer the labyrinth of frontage roads and parking lots make the restaurant seem like an island unto itself. Remain undaunted — for what is kept inside is worth the voyage. The newly opened locale in Golden may very well have some of the best Indian and Nepalese food not only in the metro area but in Colorado at large. While finding the place can be something of a hassle — a novelty since the advent of Google Maps — the cuisine merits every possible inconvenience.
Durbar originally opened in Winter Park, only expanding to the Front Range within the past eight months. The large, brightly-lit interior still provides an impressive intimacy for such a big space. The deep red walls, cozy booths and glimmering candles give the place a certain romantic flair. Many spices waft through the air —immediately disarming diners, lulling them into a state of satisfaction before the plates hit the table.
Durbar succeeds largely due to the great attention to detail present in every part of the operation. The water pitchers are full of orange and mint and crunchy papadum hits the table but a few moments after sitting down. The menu is stacked with traditional classics, but the devotion to perfect spicing transforms the dishes into truly memorable iterations.
The list consists of appetizers, soups, salads, bread, tandoori sizzlers, entrees and desserts. The rosemary pesto naan ($5) is a revelation. The brilliantly-seasoned bread is exceptional on its own, but the flavors are not overpowering. The naan still is perfect for dipping — the pesto and rosemary nicely augment the entrees already robust character. Despite the myriad flavors, nothing ever seems chaotic. This goes for much of the menu — the vibrant dishes are dazzling in their complexity and refinement, expertly balancing a wide array of ingredients.
The samosa chat ($7) is the classic pastry drenched in tamarind, mint and yogurt sauces then topped with onions and chickpeas. This dish is not to be missed — each bite is distinct, the blended sauces adjust in a drastically different way each time.
Entrees include curry, vindaloo, saag, kadai, korma and tikka masala and can be enjoyed with chicken, lamb, scallop and shrimp, fish and shrimp. The chicken tikka masala ($16) is a connoisseurs rendition. A well-stocked vegetarian section rounds out the list with dishes like dal darka ($12) — an aromatic garbanzo bean stew — and mixed veggie curry ($14). Spice level can be ordered to taste, but be warned, the medium is already not trifling.
The drink list features draft and bottled beer, wine and cocktails. The list is fairly thorough on all fronts, but the cocktails are where it really shines. The curry spiced bloody mary ($7) is everything you’d hope it would be and the chai martini ($8) — a chilled combination of Finlandia vodka and chai — is both elegant and extraordinary.
While Indian food might not be Denver’s most elusive cuisine, Durbar is truly something special. With any luck, the young restaurant will flourish. Fortunately for Denver diners, we now don’t have to go all the way to Winter Park to enjoy this tremendously good menu.
Durbar Bistro is located at 4705 6th Ave., Golden. It is open every day from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. then again from 5 – 9:30 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.