With the opening of Lehja (11800 W. Broad St., 364-1111), Short Pump is fast becoming a hub for Indian eateries, joining nearby Anokha and Malabar. The owners of Nawab Indian Cuisine, a group of four restaurants in Hampton Roads, are behind the new establishment in Short Pump Town Center.
Lehja, meaning "style" in Hindi, reflects the restaurant's eye-catching interior. Deep-orange walls hand-painted with a red-and-gold design warm the space, while a zebra-print floor ties together the white tables and chairs and the contrasting black-and-gray banquette and booth seating.
In keeping with the décor, executive chef Mel Oza (pictured above left with managing partner Sandeep Baweja) has created a contemporary menu for Lehja, setting it apart from the Nawab group's other efforts. A balance between traditional and modern, the menu will change seasonally, he says. It incorporates flavors and spices from various regions of India, as well as foods such as kale that are not traditionally Indian. "It's designed to be a good, mainstream restaurant that happens to serve Indian food," Oza says. In early April, he was still fine-tuning the menu, but Oza listed Paneer Tikka Salad as an example of a Lehja dish, and he said he plans to offer slow-cooked biryani on the weekends.
Entrée prices range from $15 to $20, with appetizers starting at $5. The restaurant's lounge serves cocktails as well as a diverse selection of wine kept in a glass-enclosed cellar. An outdoor patio will include an open fire pit for colder months and a water display during the summer.