By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 25, 2016 at 3:01 PM

The former Aura restaurant at the Park East Hotel, located at 1011 N. Astor St. and closed about six months ago, has been re-concepted and will reopen next week as Durbar Restaurant and Lounge.

According to co-owner Rick (Harjeet) Walia, who owns the hotel and restaurant with his brother Jay (Ajit), the restaurant is currently in its soft opening phase, but it will officially open to the public with its full menu on Thursday, March 31.

Semi-private dining areas carry the Indian theme throughout the restaurant with colorful ornate decor, framed textiles and mirrored walls.

A bar and lounge features a rectangular bar with a brightly lit, color-changing effervescent water feature along the bottom of the bar. Lounge and table seating are also available.

Walia notes that, beginning in the next few weeks, Durbar will also feature weekly entertainment, primarily in the form of DJs, on Friday and Saturday evenings after 10 p.m.


Durbar’s menu will focus on upscale fusion cuisine, pulling inspiration from both American, International and Indian fare, presented in a fine dining environment.

The dinner menu will feature appetizers including tandoori shrimp ($15) and lamb seekh kebabs ($15) cooked in a traditional clay oven. Other featured starters will include spicy King crab legs served with housemade spicy chile caviar, cream cheese and lemon ($24); samosa stuffed with peas and potatoes served with yogurt tamarind sauce ($7); and pakora fish featuring marinated and fried fish with egg, lemon, ginger, garlic and Indian spices ($10).

A sushi menu will include a variety of rolls including the California, spicy tuna, spicy salmon and spicy shrimp, along with a shrimp tempura and vegetable rolls (priced $8-11).  

Entrees will include offerings like butter chicken curry ($25), lamb curry ($29), curried seafood pasta ($29), butter sea scallops served with couscous and vegetables ($34), and filet mignon brushed with cream cheese, grilled and served alongside curried mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables ($34).

Beginning March 31, Durbar Restaurant and Lounge will be open for dinner daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Starting Monday, April 4, the restaurant will also offer a daily lunch buffet between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.