“What is taking them so blasted long?!” fumed the Professor. Yes, the bespectacled lecturer was dining with us again. He may come across a bit pedantic at times, but the man knows his food. And he is particularly keen on Indian cuisine. Problem was, the kitchen was either having problems, or just taking their sweet time. It had been 45 long minutes since we’d placed our order, and only the samosas and beer had arrived.
Actually, the samosas were a fantastic diversion from the long wait. Served in the chaat style, two generous samosas are heavily topped in a mélange of tender chickpeas and cilantro purée and spiced chutney. But while it had been ordered “mild” to accommodate everyone at the table, the dish packed a spiced punch that had us swallowing a lot of beer (good thing the drafts are larger pours).
The evening’s Urban Tandoor experience was a mixed bag, with both sides of the ledger heavily weighted. The decor is funky. Bollywood pulsates from a projection screen. The kitchen is semi open, giving it more of an unorthodox feel (establishments wishing to project a higher-end vibe have eschewed cloistered kitchens in favor of “transparency”). And while the Professor was unhappy with his butter chicken — “The spices are off. What is this, paprika?”— the rest of the table thoroughly enjoyed everything, ranging from the saag gosht with its tender lamb, to the tandoori chicken — an entire, marinated bird cooked expertly. But that chicken wasn’t supposed to be on the table; it had never been ordered. The dal was somehow forgotten by the kitchen, so we ended up with three chicken dishes when a chicken tikka also showed up.
But after waiting nearly an hour for this food to hit the table, we didn’t even consider sending anything back.
“Hope you give them hell in the review,” the Professor offered through gritted teeth. It was all a bit off-putting. When we’d first been seated, the dining room was maybe one third full, leaving little explanation for dinner’s delay. By the time of our departure, the room was nearly brimming. Good for establishment, but it left us wondering how backed-up the kitchen would become.
Between you and us, we actually disagreed with the Professor’s assessment of the food. He’s just too particular at times. (Don’t get him started soapboxing on bourbon styles.) We think that Urban Tandoor has immense potential. The vision is unique for the Springs (where else can you dine to Bollywood in an old Denny’s restaurant?). The atmosphere is funky fun. The menu is varied. And the execution is excellent. But per usual, it’s in the logistics of it all — making it all “tick” — that every restaurant must constantly be proactive in achieving. Urban Tandoor fell flat this night. But that won’t scare us away forever.