(Florence, SC) When thinking of Asian food what types usually come to mind? Maybe Chinese, Japanese, Thai or possiblyKorean?
How about Indian? Yes, while part of Asia, the sub-continent is often overlooked as a source of great food.
Apart from its nation of origin, Great Britain has long seen the attractiveness of Indian dishes, especially the spices that flavor everything from Butter Chicken to Lamb Jalfrezi. The origin of that specific foodie love affair is obvious, but perhaps not the fact that the Western appetite for Indian is spreading to the United States. Well, I’m here to say it has actually arived in Florence, South Carolina and I’m excited about it!
Recently, my family and I visited one of the newest eateries in Florence — Chutnee Fine Indian Cuisine. Our visit was a weekday and just before Christmas. While the interior of Chutney is somewhat sparse, it is peppered with themed decor that heightens one’s anticipation of the taste odyssey that is to come. Make a note that Chutnee offers buffets at lunchtime and menu-only dining at night. As it was lunchtime, the buffet was ready and waiting. The scents in the air drew us in unrelentingly, as we barely stopped long enough to identify our table.
On this date, the buffet included Tandoori Chicken, Mulai Kafka, Lamb Chili Foy, Navrattan Korma, Methi Chicken, Peas Pulao and Dal Tadka. If you’re unfamiliar with these items you might be saying, “Huh?” Don’t fret, it’s not that difficult to decipher.
Dal Tadka, for example, is Punjabi in origin and is simply mixed lentils with garlic, cumin seeds and mild mild spices. Tandoori Chicken is probably even more familiar to most people, as its yogurt-marinated, seasoned chicken roasted in a special clay oven called a tandoori. Both are amazingly good and seasoned mildly. Chutnee’s buffet includes all mild dishes, but extra heat is available upon request. Each dining table is presented with a basket of Naan upon arrival. Naan is a freshly made flatbread that’s also fired in the tandoori oven.
One of our new favorites has to be the Navrattan Korma, which is actualy a side dish. Nope, no dull, dried-up roasted potatoes in these steam trays. With a Mughal origin, it is not hot at all. Instead it is creamy and slightly sweet. “Navaratan,” I’m told means nine gems and “Korma” means a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock, and yogurt or cream. Sound rich enough for you? It was delicious alongside the Methi Chicken and the Lamb Chili Foy. I’m not sure that all of these dishes were made to be enjoyed together, but with a buffet everything is up for grabs. That said, we enjoyed every single thing we tasted.
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the palette created by the buffet line. We commented on the colors in the dishes to our hosts more than once. No blah browns or beiges to be found. The vivid reds and yellows simply jumped from the plate. The greens and oranges, again the colors and not the foods, are vivid in my mind even now.
Overall, what’s our review? A big thumbs-up, or maybe a Three Gas Pump “Road Trip” on our unique restaurant rating scale.
Indian cuisine may be new to many here in the Pee Dee, but it will not be for long if Chutnee has the influence it deserves. Colorful, flavorful and (even) adventurous, Chutnee is welcome respite from a world full of hamburgers, chicken fingers and garden salads with honey mustard dressing.
Chutnee is located at 137 East Palmetto Street in Florence, South Carolina. The telephone number is (843) 662-4666. Hours are 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, then 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Lunch buffets are available daily for $9.95 per person; $11.95 on weekends. Dinner entrees range from $9.95 to 17.95.
Category: Restaurant Reviews
About the AuthorKevin Barron is a husband, father, self-described geek, and enthusiastic founder of PeeDeeFoodie.com. He also hosts its companion podcast, the Pee Dee Food Show, which can be found on iTunes and the blog. Learn more about Kevin under the Contributors tab above.
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Kristi and I love Indian cuisine and were excited when Chutnee opened. We've only eaten there for lunch and had their buffet. We we both very impressed! A bit pricier than some of the other all-you-can-eat buffets around town, but the food was delicious and VERY vegetarian friendly, a requirement for my continued patronage of any restaurant. The owner makes the rounds of the dining room speaking with everybody, another nicety not often experienced in a buffet setting. We'll definitely be returning and look forward to a dinner experience there.
My wife and I recently discovered the cuisine of India and were looking with great anticipation to the opening of Chutnee. We were not disappointed. The owners and staff are very friendly and helpful if you are not familiar with Indian food. The only downside to this restaurant is that I work directly accross the street froom it.
i went to chutnee and the food wasnt that great.....i think they need to change their cook or smthing..... be honest with ya... dont go their. go to india place they have much better food than chutnee
My husband and I always celebrate a late Christmas with each other in January every year. We go to dinner then exchange gifts. This year we decided to visit Chutnee because we had heard great things about it. The food was to die for!!! The owners came to our table more than once to make sure everything was to our liking. They even helped us pick out our entree. The only problem we had was the owners were doing more of the serving than the waitresses were. We saw our waitress once and that was when she came to take our order. After that, she ignored us. The owners more than made up for the slack waitresses. We will be back to Chutnee in the near future!! On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it an overall 8.
Great food and service. Staff was very friendly and seemed happy to answer our questions. We went early for lunch to beat the cross town traffic and the lunch rush. The place was clean, the food on the buffet was hot and delicious. We had a very interesting and tasty dessert, but my favorite is the naan (bread). I will definitely go again.
My husband and I have eaten here twice and it is excellent!I had never eaten any Indian food before and the waiter ordered for us both times.I will be back for more of this great food!
I had a different lunch experience at Chutnee's... We also went at lunch time and were disappointed with the amount of food available. The buffet kept running out of the main entrees. The food also wasn't hot, mildly warm would be a better word. For the $9.95 lunch buffet price I expected more.