944 Ludlow Avenue
Dusmesh is located in a converted house (the old Indian Palace restaurant) across the street from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and the menu offers a wide selection of North Indian haute cuisine made from the finest and freshest ingredients. The sweet, comforting aroma of Nag Champa greets visitors at the front door; a first indication of good things to come. Diners are greeted promptly by friendly staff, and even first-timers are welcomed as old friends. It's very refreshing.
As with most local Indian buffets, there are several vegetarian dishes alongside meat-based dishes. The difference with Dusmesh is in what they offer - on the day we visited the vegetarian offerings included aloo gijjar (a gorgeously tasty potato-carrot dish laced with coriander and onion), and egg bhurji (scrambled egg masala). I haven't seen these at other local buffets, but more importantly both had a complexity of flavor not found elsewhere around town.
Another difference between Dusmesh and other local Indian restaurants is their light-handed use of chillies, letting the other ingredients shine. That isn't to say that none of Dusmesh's offering are fiery, but most dishes are gentle and pleasing. Steve and I were both astonished by the depth of flavor in the navratan korma (meaning "nine jewels," it's nine vegetables in a lightly spiced cream sauce). The interplay between the coriander, turmeric and garam masala with the cream and vegetables was a symphony for the tongue. I've had mixed veg korma plenty of times, but here this dish is taken to a completely different level. By far is the best I've ever tasted.
I tried every vegetarian offering on the buffet bar (although not all of them photographed well enough to be shown), and my only quibble is that the temperature of two of the dishes was tepid at best, possibly due to faulty warmers on the bar. Considering just how phenomenally good the food is at Dusmesh, this is an issue they should sort out sharpish.
The lunch buffet is daily from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and runs $8. Dinner service runs until 10 p.m. and vegetarian fare is well represented; the restaurant offers 24 dedicated vegetarian dinner entrées, as well as a number of veg appetizers, soups and tandooris.
The desserts at Dusmesh should not be overlooked. Alongside buffet staples like kheer (rice pudding) and fresh fruit, on the day we visited there was also a lovely grated carrot pudding. This delicately sweet dessert meshes carrot with cardamon, sugar, milk and ghee (clarified butter) for a taste similar to baked sweet potatoes slathered in butter and brown sugar. Oh my, I could have eaten the entire tray.