There was a nice crowd at the restaurant at noon, which is a good thing at a buffet as you hope the trays are turning over fairly rapidly. The restaurant is decorated nicely, and is clean. I'm not an aficionado of Indian food, but I do enjoy it. Indian food, for me, is kind of like Chinese food anymore - when I eat it it is usually part of a buffet. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I haven't done any "research" on it, but it seems like offering the buffet was a good way of helping introduce people to Indian food in a much safer and experimental way. Indian food is by far the most popular ethnic food in England (interesting article here), and while I've not travelled there, I wonder if the lunch time Indian buffet is as omni-present there as here? I kind of doubt it, as I think the buffet is more of an American thing.
Anyhow, going in, my preference was for Indian Garden location downtown, and their fantastic Butter Chicken. We've also been over to the India Palace location on Lafayette Road, north of the mall, and they offer a Sunday evening buffet, which has been nice to take friends to introduce them to Indian food when a weekday lunch doesn't fit. India Palace is also very good, and I like their curried goat quite a bit.
The service at Amber is fantastic. Three sips from your water glass and it is refilled. A plate is emptied and it seems before you can even rest your fork and consider another buffet pass the plate is ferried away behind the kitchen doors. The food was also very good. It was in line with what you'd expect, a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, all of good quality and nice variety. On a personal level, I would have liked to have seen some of my favorite items like Aloo Gobi or the Matar Paneer (they did have out the Palak Paneer - spinch). A new item that I'd not had before that I really enjoyed was Amber's Garlic Chicken, which was fried chicken pieces in a spicy sauce loaded with garlic made soft from being sauteed. I'd have also liked to have had a biranyi dish on the buffet, but they did have a "brown" rice as well as a white rice. The naan at Amber is served warm directly to your table, which is very nice, and you have a choice of regular or garlic (why would one not ever pick garlic?).
Overall, it was a very good experience. The lunch, with only water to drink, was a bit over $9. And, since a pita combo at Pita Pit is over $9, I'd say this is good value (All U Can Eat!). I think I still prefer India Garden, but it is also where I've gone the most often.
The verdict: 3.5 belly rubs (out of 5) - traditional, great service, solid execution.
And, it is true. I've completely made up for the caloric output from RAIN. I weighed 3 pound more on Tuesday night than before we started the ride. Guess I need to get back on the bike.