2512 Hennepin Avenue
The air smelled like summer, and at the end of a lazy Sunday with hardly anything substantial in our refrigerator, we opted to enjoy dinner outside… and at someone else’s labor. Namaste fit the bill. Its online menu listed unique dishes, and its active neighborhood with a carefree vibe – just north of the heart of Uptown, looking out at a busy Hennepin Avenue – sealed the deal.
Our car found a spot just in front of the two-story house Namaste has turned into a charming venue. We walked through the house, with the open windows creating a welcomed draft past the simple-yet-chic tables, and up to the bar to announce our arrival. At our request, the waitress led us to a seat on the patio encircling the restaurant and its porch. Feeling relaxed, yet part of the warm evening’s activity along Hennepin, we hungrily placed our order: two entrees (both a spicy rating of 3 out of 5) and an iced Masala Chai to share.
Our chai arrived first, and we savored each icy sip. The tea, milk and spices were blended so we could taste the ideal amount of each part. Already I was sold on returning to Namaste, even just to order a similar summer afternoon pick-me-up.
Both entrees arrived in a small, but amply portioned dish next to a ramekin of white rice. Jim’s Squash Curry with Bison featured cubed local bison meat that had been cooked with sliced squash and smothered in a curry sauce with ginger, garlic, garam masala and bay leaves. My Coconut Spinach, noted as a vegetarian favorite by our waiter, featured sliced potato, tomato, and fresh spinach sautéed in a coconut curry mixture with cumin seeds, turmeric, ginger and garlic. We agreed: this was the best Asian – no, the best ethnic food – we’d ever had. Maybe we were just that hungry, but what’s more likely is that the talent and creativity in Namaste’s kitchen is really worth every award on its wall.
Forgetting its focus on serving the most local, natural and organic products, Namaste’s attention to the food’s every detail won us over. The bison was tender and well seasoned. The spinach was wilted without being soggy, and the spices of both dishes seemed measured to the granule. And aside from some slow service, which we accredited to the easy-going Uptown attitude, we were blown away.
The only question left is: how do you really say its name? (We’ve been corrected with several pronunciations, and everyone thinks they’re right! Guess this is one for the owners to solve … a great excuse for a future visit.)
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠♠
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠ 1/2
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠♠
Total bill, including tip: $43