Bay Area Reviews
Summary: Come here for vegetarian dishes only, meat dishes are low quality. Expensive restaurant
It had been many years since I'd been to Viceroy, the Indian restaurant at the corner of University and Shattuck in Berkeley. On that occasion, Lola and I had shared a singularly bad meal, marked by the presence of cheap short rice instead of its basmati cousin. Through the years, I continued to hear bad things about Viceroy which is why I was surprised when my friend Rainee suggested we had lunch there one day (July 2006) we were visiting Berkeley with our brood.
I was reluctant at first, but I figured that no matter how bad it was, I'd get to write about it (that thought consoles me through many a bad - and expensive - meal). And that's exactly what this meal turned out to be for me: bad and expensive.
The buffet lunch is $9 - though apparently they charge per plate. I used two for my meal, and got charged for two buffets. I didn't complain as none of the kids - and we had five with us - were charged for their meals (or perhaps that extra charge was supposed to be for all of them), but with that, two soft drinks at $2 each and two sweet lassies at $3 each, I ended up spending $36 after tax and tip! Not what I had in mind for a lunch with the kids. That said, if you feed your kids out of your plate and all share one drink (no refills) lunch there needn't be expensive.
If you are not a vegetarian, chances are it'll still be bad, however. I'd never had a more insipid, boring, tasteless chicken as the tandoori chicken served at Viceroy. I suspect that the chicken was just dyed with red food coloring, rather than actually marinated in any kind of spice mixture. I could not understand, otherwise, how the chicken could have so little flavor - and be tough and bony to boot. On the plus side, my kids liked it (with no spice in sight, what wasn't there for them to like?).
The curries themselves - one was a butter chicken, the other one might have been a korma - weren't bad. The butter chicken curry was too thin, almost like a soup, but the other one was quite good. The chicken it came with, however, was once again bony and difficult to eat. It did, however, remind me of the curries I ate in India - boneless chicken seems to be an Americanization - but I wasn't particularly fond of them. The lamb kebabs were OK; these are never my favorite, and the naan was good when eaten hot. It became hard and chewy as soon as it cooled down. The rice - both in regular and "lemon" varieties - was sticky and short grained, definitely not what you are looking for when going out for Indian food (though using Basmati rice is also an Americanization, most middle-class restaurants in India can't afford to serve it to its patrons).
Given this, you'd be justified in asking how Viceroy stays in business - but apparently, at least according to Rainee and Desiree, who also had lunch with us - their vegetarian entrees are amazing. Desiree in particular sang the praises of the chickpea entree, but while she agreed that the chicken entrees were horrible, she thought all the vegetarian ones were very good.
So I guess you should go to Viceroy if you're a vegetarian and avoid it if you are not.
Viceroy Indian Cusine
21 Shattuck Sq.