I Can’t Always be an Asshole: I Fell in Love With Tandoor

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Tandoor, The Indian Grill
729 East 3300 South, SLC, UT. 84109
Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m; 5 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m; 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Reviewed Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008 and Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008.

Because of my unhealthy obsession with spicy food and being married to a vegetarian, Indian food has long been a staple in restaurant choices for me. I long ago found favorite dishes and favorite spots, so when a friend of mine told me he had a new favorite Indian place, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to stray from my usual routine and give the place a try.

Photo: David Newkirk

Located at 729 East 3300 South, in the space that used to house Bombay Express, Tandoor, The Indian Grill has slipped under my radar for far too long. In many ways, the restaurant is unremarkable. Set in a suburban strip-mall, the decor is sparse, with only the lighting fixtures and white linens to “class the place up.” The tables seem almost awkward in their placement, set at slightly crooked angles in a wide open room.

Also, like many similar restaurants, Tandoor offers a lunch buffet ($9.99) and claims to serve both Northern and Southern Indian Cuisine, but the similarities end there. Unlike most of their cohorts, they actually do serve both Northern and Southern food. Instead of having a menu consisting of mostly Northern gravies and just paying lip-service to the South with a few entrees, Tandoor offers six varieties of Dosa—a crepe generally made from lentil or rice flour—and has a handful of other Southern items scattered throughout the menu. That’s not to say that they neglected the Northern curries—I would dare say they have an even better selection of choices from the north than most of the other Indian places in town.

In the two visits I’ve made to Tandoor, I feel like I’ve barely started to explore the menu. The Keema Dosa ($9.95), a Dosa stuffed with minced meat and peas and served with lentil soup and chutney, was particularly good, as was the Hyderbadi Bagara Baigan ($10.95)—four miniature eggplants stuffed with a peanut-and-sesame-seed paste and served in a bright orange curry. The Aloo Gobi ($9.95), cauliflower and potatoes in a curry of ginger, spices and tomatoes, could be the best I have tried and the Kadai Lamb ($12.95) was tender and rich. But it is the Pumpkin Masala ($9.95) that has topped my list so far. It was almost sweet, but balanced with a deep, buttery spice and was perfectly complemented by a side of Garlic Naan ($2.95), a tandoor oven-baked leavened white bread topped with chopped garlic. There is a limited beer and wine menu, including one of my favorite local brews, Squatters India Pale Ale.

The service was friendly, if a bit slow, and attentive yet unobtrusive. The servers on both visits seemed genuinely warm and helpful.

I know that you, as SLUG readers, have become used to me ranting and raving and spewing obscenities as well as disgusting comparisons to feces. I know that even when I like a restaurant, I manage to be otherwise self-deprecating or find some tirade or soapbox to climb on, and for those of you that have been looking for that in this article, I apologize. I am not sure if it was the holiday season, or the friendly staff at Tandoor, or the fact that this place should be four times as busy as I have seen it, but I fell in love with this restaurant. So for those of you that miss the asshole in me, fuck off!