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When eating with friends, I make it a rule not to judge food too harshly. I’m there for the company, after all. Seems that reaching across the table to sample, then trash your pal’s carefully thought-out lunch tends to make people a little uncomfortable. Don’t ask me why.

That rule gets thrown out the window when I’m with other serious eaters.  We snatch crumbs off each others’ plates, order as many items off the menu as we can afford and dish snarky critiques amongst ourselves.

So it’s a rare restaurant that gets a unanimous forks-up. But Petaluma’s spanking-new Himalayan Kabob and Curry House got our tongues wagging — and not just with Frances’ blazing-hot curry.

The spot on Western Ave., is a bit unfortunate, having seen the recent demise of two previous tenants, Three Blocks Off and the short-lived Vino Grigio. There’s a bit of deja-vu all over again, as fixtures (and even the etched glass door that stills says 3BO) remains pretty much the same.

With so few good Indian restaurants in P-town, however, the lengthy menu of mostly familiar curries, naan and tandoori may lead this reincarnation to a more permanent stay.

Less adventurous eaters get a solid introduction to the holy triumvirate of approachable Indian foods — chicken tikka masala, palak paneer (cheese in spinach) and vegetable curry at Himalayan. Dishes are well-spiced and rich with big chunks of meat and other goodies.

momo.jpgAlso worth a try are more exotic Himalayan specialties including daal and momos — soft dumplings filled with meat and vegetables. The restaurant nods to the non-ethnic-inclined lunch crowd with California-style salads and simple kabobs, as well.

Despite unfortunate cheap-o signage out front, the restaurant remains white-napkin casual inside. Prices are in line with higher-end curry houses in the region (Pamposh, Kabob and Curry and Sizzling Tandoor come to mind) with most meat entrees hitting the $10-$13 range. In the early weeks, service is still spotty, ranging from slow to doting.

There’s little else to complain about, however –even at a table of serious eaters. Seems this location’s karma is about to change.

Himalayan Kabob and Curry House, 220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707.775.4717.

PS. BiteClub hears that Star of India in the McDowell shopping center has closed, to be replaced by a new Indian eatery. LMK if you know more.