This small, family-run Indian restaurant fronts onto an industrial stretch of Dundas Street in Whitby, tucked in the eastern corner of an uninspiring strip mall. But location doesn’t deter the customers who flock to both sit down and take out meals during the Saturday evening of our visit. In fact, at one point the line-up for take out was nearly out the door, and all of the tables were occupied!
And once our starter arrived, it was obvious why Signature is such a hot spot. We chose the Chef’s Platter for 2 ($9.99), which came with vegetable samosas, onion bhaji (similar to an onion fritter), aloo tikki (a potato patty) and vegetable pakora (battered and deep fried vegetable bits), with hot green chili chutney and sweeter tamarind sauce for dipping.
With so much of the starter having been dropped into the fryer, there’s always the very real possibility of receiving an overcooked, over-oily appetizer. But the onion bhajis and pakoras were crisp without being heavy, the aloo tikki was light and flavourful. My one issue were the tiny servings of chutney and tamarind sauce that accompanied the plate. Both were delicious, particularly the green chutney which was smooth and green, with a pleasant, not searing, amount of heat from the chillies. More next time, please!
For those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, eat-in meals tend to take quite a while to get from the kitchen to the table. Our meal at Signature took two hours, from start to finish, at the height of the Saturday night dining hour. But was the wait worth it? Absolutely.
We ordered malai kofta, potato and cheese dumplings in a tomato and cream sauce, chicken tikka masala (chicken in masala sauce with bell peppers and onions), and shrimp madras, black tiger shrimp in spicy curry sauce. Neglecting to indicate a preferred level of heat, the dishes were on the mild side, and I would have preferred slightly spicier. But the meal was delicious: Rich, hearty, chicken was cooked until tender, smothered in masala sauce; plump tiger shrimp were delicately cooked in a flavourful tomato curry sauce: and the malai kofta dumplings were fluffy, mild, and bathed in tomato cream. A side order of rice and fragrant, perfectly cooked garlic naan was on hand to soak up the extra sauce.
Signature Indian Cuisine is located at 1121 Dundas Street East in Whitby. Total cost, including tax, 2 glasses of house wine and tip, was $78.