Spend a delightful "Night"

Jan. 16, 2009, midnight | By Alisa Lu | 12 years ago

Classy Indian restaurant is perfect for the price

In the heart of suburbia, there are only a few restaurants that have great food, a fantastic atmosphere and impeccable service. For every good restaurant, there are five unimpressive chains like Buca di Beppo or Baja Fresh. In Kentlands Shopping Center, one of the few outstanding restaurants is Tandoori Nights. Nestled between a Bally's Total Fitness and a yet-to-be-opened barbeque joint, Tandoori Nights manages to serve delicious food while offering a warm atmosphere and attentive, polite waiters.

Photo: A basket of popad, thin lentil flour wafers, arrives with a trio of colorful sauces.

From the very beginning, Tandoori Nights sets a warm and accommodating tone with its welcoming hostess and candlelit tables. Servers immediately bring baskets of tasty popad, thin lentil flour wafers reminiscent of taco shells, accompanied by a trio of diverse sauces arranged on a sophisticated plate. The popad is easy to nibble while waiting for the courses to arrive and doesn't fill up patrons' stomachs - a very good thing considering the mouth-watering food that awaits.

Before the first dish is even bought out, the aroma and sizzling sounds from neighboring tables easily elicit drool and high expectations. From poultry to lamb to seafood to vegetarian, Tandoori Nights does it all and does it well, although a few tweaks here and there could bring the dishes closer to utter perfection.

The restaurant's signature dishes are produced by the clay tandoor oven. Arranged on a hotplate with onions and carrots, the chicken tikka arrives sizzling and fresh out of the oven. The boneless pieces of chicken are tender and flavorful from the yogurt and spices rub, albeit a bit dry.

The tandoori fish, the chicken tikka's counterpart is baked to perfection. The fish meat easily falls off its bones and melts in the mouth to create a symphony with the flavorful spices, capturing the aromatic taste and smell of the oven and rub.

Photo: The tandoori fish is baked to perfection in a tandoor oven.

But even without the aid of the tandoor oven, Tandoori Nights still manages to churn out savory dishes. The lamb Vindaloo arrives in a porcelain boat with a warning about its spiciness. Chunks of tender, melt-in-your-mouth lamb and hunks of perfectly cooked potatoes swim in a sea of spices in a fragrant red sauce. Though not as spicy as warned, the dish is spicy enough enough to burn a tongue that is not used to fiery foods .

Tandoori Nights boasts a huge menu of not only meat dishes, but vegetarian ones as well. From potatoes stuffed with cheese and simmered with a tasty sauce to stir fried vegetables sautéed with spices, the vegetarian dishes are numerous and varied.

To compliment the food, the service could not be better. Servers give helpful hints when choosing dishes on aspects ranging from the ingredients to the spiciness of the dishes. The kitchen cooks the food in a respectable amount of time and creates a minimalist but tasty presentation. Waiters pop up just before they are flagged down to refill a glass of water, a basket of popad or a bowl of the complimentary rice.

The warm atmosphere and classy feel completes the fantastic restaurant. Dim lighting casts a romantic and warm glow over the restaurant but allows enough light for patrons to see across the small but cozy dining room. People can easily chat across the table but the noise level is just enough to eliminate stuffiness and allow for comfortable conversation.

Photo: The lamb Vindaloo arrives with a warning about its spiciness.

Of course, money is a huge factor in restaurant choice in today's economy. While the price is steeper than more casual chain restaurants, the money is well worth the ambiance and the care that is put into the experience. Chicken entries are around $12.95, while lamb is slightly more expensive with an average price of around $13.95. Seafood entrees are the most expensive with an average price of $17.95, while vegetarian entrees are the cheapest with an average price of $8.95. Although the restaurant is worth every penny, perhaps the restaurant should be saved for special occasions to prevent bankruptcy, as patrons will want to come back again and again.

Tandoori Nights is located on 106 Market Square in Kentlands, about 20 min. from Blair in light traffic. It is open 11:30 a.m. - 2:30.p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. - 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Alisa Lu. Alisa is an (almost) junior in the magnet, which is not a good thing, since it means she will be looking like a zombie for the next few years. While not obsessing over school, she can be found on fictionpress.com reading sappy stories and then … More »

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