First things first: Hari's is not a bistro. It's a completely misguided Indian restaurant next to the popular Rao's Coffee. Let's begin with the atmosphere. It would be difficult to make a room look more uninviting than Hari's. There are brown walls, industrial chairs, and a couple of strange, haphazard decorations like emaciated peacock feathers (at least they toned down the pink, sequined disaster that was New India, the previous inhabitant). Worse yet, the place is often uncomfortably hot.
And unless you're scared of Indian food and thus fancy blandness, you'll likely find most of the food uncomfortably bad. Hari's does hit one high point, however: the eggplant bhurta, with ginger and tomatoes. It's warm, soft, soothing, and unlike so many other options, competently spiced. Not so for the aloo mutter, which is described on the menu as'' pieces of potatoes and peas cooked in delicate spices. " We would describe it as'' pieces of mealy, overcooked potatoes and tasteless chickpeas in a sauce without any perceptible flavor." A vegetable pakora is wet with grease, overpowering any vegetable taste. Chicken shahjahani sounds good ("ginger garlic in a rich cream tomato sauce"), but the chicken tastes boiled and unseasoned, and the bland tomato-based sauce doesn't help at all. And dishes at Hari's with different names seem to feature many of the same ingredients, spices, and tastes; this can be a problem at American Indian restaurants generally, but here it's even more absurd, especially when the basic
taste is so boring. Mango chutney helps matters somewhat, but it's steeply priced. Hari's also tries its hand at "Mediterranean wraps" including falafel (this should set off warning bells from the start), with scarcely better results. Along the same lines, dishes like chicken fingers and a salad with ranch dressing cast serious doubt upon Hari's tagline of "Authentic Indian Cuisine." With ranch dressing? And then there is coconut soup, another bad idea.
The prices aren't even particularly low for Indian - most non-vegetarian mains clump around $11-12 for comparatively small portions. An all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is more reasonable. The service is perfectly friendly and welcoming, and we feel a bit bad trashing the place, but our duty is ultimately to our readers. Maybe Hari's is just in the wrong business. And speaking of business, there doesn't seem to be much of it; with this food and decor, it's no wonder that the place is often empty.