301 North Harrison Street
(609) 688-9400
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
(609) 688-9404
contact@crossculturerestaurant.com
contact@CrossCultureRestaurant.com
301 North Harrison Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
(609) 688-9400
(609) 688-9404
contact@crossculturerestaurant.com
contact@CrossCultureRestaurant.com
Home > Publication Summary > Restaurant Review-The atmosphere is fresh and modern while the kitchen aims to please
Restaurant Review-The atmosphere is fresh and modern while the kitchen aims to please
Published on 09/18/2011


Restaurant Review

Cross Culture

The atmosphere is fresh and modern while the kitchen aims to please

 

Cross Culture, the newest dining addition to the Princeton Shopping Center, is sister restaurant to Palace of Asia, the oldest Indian restaurant in the area (established in 1985). Palace of Asia, located in Lawrence, is arguably the place that set the standard for local Indian food way back when and it is still regarded as somewhat of a benchmark for longtime area residents.

            Cross Culture is a departure from the opulent décor and large traditional Indian menu found at Palace of Asia. Instead, the young restaurant spins a personality of it’s own that feels fresh and modern. Cross Culture sports a minimalist décor with dim lighting, amber hues and Indian-themed paintings. A simple tile wall behind the front desk and a slate-inspired floor, make an understated and upscale backdrop.

            The handsome menu is scaled down in size and augmented with unexpected twists on Indian classics. Salmon, a fish that is rarely found on Indian menus, makes a big splash here. Fish Tandoor ($11.95) features salmon instead of the usual white fish. It is marinated in herbs and spices and cooked in the Tandoor oven, producing the ultimate in taste and texture. While Cross Culture’s traditional Samosa ($4.95) filled with potatoes and peas, is always a hit, the Chicken Samosa ($5.95) makes a bigger impression. It is a friendly adaptation of the classic, filled with a lively ground chicken mixture and served with two sauces for dipping: sweet tamarind and a kicked-up mint and coriander that can enhance many appetizers.

            Tandoori Specialties are a highlight here. The Mixed Grill (&20.95) brings a sizzling plate of chicken, lamb, shrimp and fish; each perfectly cooked and highly seasoned. When it comes to curries, there’s bit more explaining to do. Freshness and high-quality ingredients are the common threads for all the food at Cross Culture. Everything is made-to-order and that really comes through at table. In fact, Cross Culture does not do an all-you-can-eat buffet at any time of the day. They said management is sensitive to the needs of its clientele, so much so, that the food is often toned down to suit the average customer.

            Owner P J Singh explains that if the customer does not request a certain degree of spiciness, then the kitchen’s default number on a scale of 1 to 10, (one being least spicy and 10 being most spicy), is a 2 or 3. There is one problem with this theory; the server does not ask about heat preference when taking the order, so unless can be disappointing for some. Such was the case in quite a few of the dishes we tried.

            Daal makhani (&10.95), lamb rogan josh ($17.95), and lamb saagwala ($18.95) were particularly meek. A shame since I usually find all the dishes, especially the lentils (daal), very compelling. While the meat in all the lamb dishes was tender and inviting, the most successful out of the ones we sampled was the ever popular, Lamb Korma ($17.95) in its creamy, nutty sauce. Tomato-based chicken-curry ($14.95) with ginger and garlic was enjoyable as was palak paneer ($14.95) featuring Indian cheese in a spinach sauce that mimics saagwala. Baingan bharta ($12.95), eggplant roasted in the tandoor and incorporated in a tomato-based curry, was nicely done and emerged as the vegetarian favorite.

            At Cross Culture, naan, ($2.50) is made without the usual brush of butter on the outside, resulting in a driver version. While this health-conscious naan still functions competently as the blank canvas for the myriad of exotic flavors that embellish it, there is an irresistibility that is missing. (Unbeknownst to most customers, the buttery kind can be requested.) In contrast, the puri ($3.50), deep-fried balloon-puffed breads, are naughty, but very nice.

            The dessert selection is a mix of Indian classics and a few American-friendly safety nets. Gulab Jamun ($4.95), featuring warm milk and cheese balls that sit in an uber sweet syrup is the norm. Mango Sundae ($5.95) is pleasantly driven by mangoes, ice cream and whipped cream.

            Here, the culture is one that aims to please. The kitchen is happy to tailor to taste. And though we felt a little rushed to place our order on a busy evening, which could have merely been the result of attentiveness, we were able to enjoy our whole meal at a very comfortable pace. This family-owned and operated restaurant definitely makes hospitality a priority.

            In the end, the best way to experience Cross Culture is at least twice. Visit once to gauge the spice level at the default setting and again to get it right for your palate. After that, the sky’s the limit. Given its location, pedigree, modern flair, and proficient kitchen, Cross Culture could very well become that go-to Indian restaurant for many Princeton locals.

-By Antoinette Buckley