First-time restaurateur Nasir Khan has opened Wild Cook’s Indian Grill on Hillsborough Street, in the building previously occupied for 23 years by India Mahal. If the name doesn’t tip you off that Khan’s inaugural venture is not just another Indian restaurant, then the street sign - a howling wolf atop a crescent moon - ought to do the trick.
For starters, Khan - a native of Pakistan who worked in restaurants in Spain and Greece before coming to the Triangle, where he worked for Whole Foods for the past two and a half years - is passionate about using quality ingredients. That applies to everything from meats (including an entire menu category devoted to goat) and seafood to spices. Khan buys fresh produce daily and favors organic for his varied offering of vegetarian appetizers, entrees and lunch specials. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian thali samplers are available, and a lunch buffet includes salad, fresh fruit and dessert for $8.50.
A modest but thoughtfully chosen wine list is a welcome change of pace from the Indian restaurant norm, too, with a selection spanning the globe from Washington Riesling to Spanish Garnacha. All wines except the sparklers are available by the glass, and are priced to encourage exploring.
As soon as Khan gets the new-restaurant wrinkles ironed out, he plans to show that his wild streak goes beyond traditional Indian fare. He’s already developing a list of Mediterranean salads and a daily changing selection of “Indian-style Western” dishes.