Written by Laura Baranik
Before my first trip to Tandoor, I was warned by my dinner companion, who had already been there, that the restaurant´s food is excellent but the place is “ugly.” She was right on both counts.
Entering Tandoor is like stepping in to a cleaned-up, better-lit version of a mid-90s neighborhood herna, which I imagine is what used to be located here. There are no slot machines now, of course, but some vestiges of the previous ownership still remain: a complex bar construction of dark brown wood (complete with angled mirrors and plastic plants), beige wall-to-wall carpeting, an old TV bolted to the ceiling. The walls have been painted with a fresh coat of Barbie-house pink and baby blue, something an over-eager Daddy-to-be might have done while decorating a nursery for his new child, sex unknown.
But the place is spotlessly clean, and Tandoor isn´t pretending to be a five-star restaurant, anyway. You won´t find an entrée over 170 CZK, though from what I sampled, they would fit in just fine, if not better, with any of the meals at Prague´s more expensive Indian restaurants. Tandoor just feels like an honest place – they´re not hitting you over the head with sitars and jewelled elephants, trying to make up in quasi-authentic atmosphere what they lack in the kitchen. They´re serving you home-style Indian, in generous portions and with friendly service.
The chicken in my chicken tikka masala, for example, was accompanied by plenty of subtly spiced, coconut-tinged masala gravy. The sauce´s perfectly pureed consistency went well over a plate of fluffy basmati rice, and was just right to scoop up with bits of chewy, powdery-to-the-touch paratha bread.
My companion´s vegetable korma was equally satisfying, sweetened with coconut milk and full of crunchy veggies. I was pleased to note that the sauce seemed to be made with more yoghurt than cream, making it less heavy than other kormas I´ve tried. A side dish of saag aloo – steamed spinach and potatoes seasoned with chilli and cardamom – was pleasantly garlicky and did well to complement my otherwise vegetable-free tikka masala.
We´d been a little disappointed by the appetizers, not because they weren´t good, but because both the vegetable and meat samosas were unavailable (fans of Indian food are sure to notice, too, that perennial favorite naan is not on the menu).
I didn´t manage to sample any of the extra-spicy dishes Tandoor has on offer, such as the jal frezis or vindaloos, but I´ve been told that they don´t skimp on the chili – a welcome relief to Prague hotheads who´ve seen many an ethnic dish dulled by a local preference for milder food. I could have used a little more spice in my Indian tea (also known as masala chai) though, with its heavy sweetness overpowering any hint of chai´s traditional notes of cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.
Nevertheless, I´m sure to be back, in spite of the slightly vapid atmosphere; good ethnic cuisine is too rare in Prague not to. If you´re really dreading an evening in a converted herna, you can always have your food delivered, at a charge of 10 CZK a kilometer (with a 50 CZK minimum). Now that you´ve been warned, though, I think you´ll find it really isn´t that bad in there. It´s certainly nothing a great curry can´t make up for.
Konecchlumského 7, Prague 6 – Břevnov
Tel: 233 359 274
Open: Mon-Fri 11:00 – 23:00
Sat 12:00 – 23:00
Sun 17:00 – 23:00
Laura Baranik can be reached at email@example.com