The Place: Daawat Indian Cuisine; 239 S. Links Ave., Sarasota; (941) 366-4433.
The Fare: This ambitious Indian restaurant and wine bar has taken over the charming cottage at the northwest corner of the Towles Court arts district once occupied by Canvas Cafe. The extensive menu features specialties from the subcontinent ranging from tandoori dishes done in the traditional clay oven to curries, vindaloos, bhunas, vegetarian dishes and a mouthwatering array of traditional Indian breads like naan and tandoori roti. A short but well-chosen list of wines by the glass and bottle is a welcome touch.
The Drill: Dinner is served every day and lunch is offered Monday through Saturday. We’re focusing here on weekday lunch, specifically the specials. Dine in one of two small rooms or outside on a welcoming porch or patio. For takeout, call ahead and get a 10 percent discount!
The Bottom Line: The weekday lunch specials are a really good deal, offering a reduced portion main dish plus soup or salad, rice, naan and the day’s vegetable. They’re divided into four categories, each offering four choices. Chicken specials are $8.95 each and range from a mild but robust chicken tikka masala to a fiery vindaloo. Lamb specials are $9.95, including a superb bhuna featuring tender chunks of meat simmered with fresh tomatoes, onion, ginger, garlic and spices. Seafood specials—two curries and two bhunas, with your choice of shrimp or fresh fish—are $10.95. Vegetarian specials are $7.95 and include one of my all-time favorites, saag paneer, which pairs cubes of homemade “cottage cheese” with fresh spinach in a spicy sauce.