I live in a small town but grew up in a big city. In Syracuse on business, I went looking for a local Indian restaurant. I was hoping for nicely prepared inexpensive food and expecting the typical mediocre atmosphere and menu with numbered entrees to help the western client avoid pronouncing the Anglicized Indian names. I pretty much got what I expected.
The entrance to the place is dirty and dismal; you climb a staircase not sure if you're going to a restaurant or some grubby rental housing. Don't be afraid! This is a poor testament to the place itself. The restaurant space is tidy enough, but very plainly maintained. I wasn't sure if there actually was a restroom ... there's really just one big room. The menu is classic Indian food in America, with all of the usual choices, including pakoras as appetizers, vegetarian, chicken and lamb entrees, nan, garlic nan, etc. The alcoholic selection includes a couple of indian beers, Bud, etc. and a small set of wines by the glass.
Papadams came first, gratis and without asking. I ordered fish pakoras for an appetizer, which were hot, plain, and satisfying. As an entree I ordered Chicken Sag Masala, and chose "medium" from the offering of mild, medium and hot. They didn't rush the preparation, and the rice and masala was very nice, with a pleasantly balanced sauce, lots of chicken, and relatively mild spice given my choice.
Service was decent, slightly awkward with an accent, and polite. Would I go back? Absolutely. Was I happy? Absolutely. Was I blown away? Not in the least. Personally, I was very much satisfied, with my expectations met.