Tandoor Restaurant, Marietta GA

I’m still reeling from the closure of Moksha. I must be; there’s no other explanation for this grim lack of satisfaction in the unavailability of really good, reasonably-priced Indian food in the area. Now this obviously is the sort of thing that I could have rectified already, had I put my mind to it, and I did find Desi Spice, which is pretty good, but the honest fact is that my great enjoyment of a few Indian dishes has been consistently tempered with the persistent awfulness of the restaurants that serve them. I don’t wish to list a walk of shame, but I think you’ve all eaten at the kinds of places that turn my eyebrows. I’m talking about the ones that feature the cloth napkins and nice tablecloths under the clear plastic, with the ill-fitting tuxedos totally failing to turn a server’s disagreeable and bored demeanor into anything classy. If Atlanta’s got one too many of anything, it’s the Indian equivalents of those damn fool China-This and China-That places. I’ve really, really got to be in some more kind of mood for rogan josh to put up with that burning mediocrity of presentation.

Moksha was really nice, but it was genuinely upscale and not plastic, with gorgeous interiors brightly lit by huge windows letting in the light and a super staff of smiling and helpful servers. Heck, even the gents’ was classy. I wanted to know where the heck they bought that sink so I could install it in my own home.

There is nothing in Tandoor’s decor that I want in my home, but the experience is so many leagues preferable to the surly artificiality of the typical Indian restaurant in the region that it scores highly on my scale. The food’s all right. It’s just okay, really, but it’s priced very well and they don’t make any pretension about it. Why can’t more places be like this?

At any rate, the decor in this place is pretty darn downmarket, which is a very nice breath of fresh relief or something like that. It’s in a strip mall on Powers Ferry Road which looks like it should have been a good location once upon a time, but it’s struggling. Despite the high-end car dealer on one end, most of the spaces are vacant. In fact, the storefronts that sandwich Tandoor are both closed up.

Tandoor’s prices are very nice, but you have to navigate the menu in odd ways to make things work. They have some “combo meals” to save money and give guests a broader choice of flavors, but these come with some restrictions. The $8.99 combo comes with a vegetable dish, one curried meat, rice and naan. I found this a little restrictive, sorry to say. Based on Chloe Morris’s excellent review of this place (link dead, but where it was described, with some hyperbole, as “the best Indian/Pakistani food in the city”), I was looking forward to trying the chicken boti. Unfortunately, this dish does not qualify as one of the meats that you can get in this combo.

Hoping to maximize my dollar’s worth, I asked for the girl at the register to recommend another chicken entree. She suggested that I might enjoy the chicken karahi instead. Unfortunately (again), difficulty understanding each other meant that my request for “boneless” was not made clear. I’ve since learned that karahi is typically prepared bone-in, as this meal was. It was, indeed, quite tasty and in a very good, thick, spicy, brown sauce. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind is all.

I did get to try Chow Down’s suggestion of palak paneer, a dish that I may have only had once before. This was indeed very nice and creamy and a rich, natural green color, without any artificial additives. I won’t swear that I’d order it every time, but it was a good change from my usual routine.

It was not completely satisfying. There was far more rice than I could ever eat, at the expense of the other dishes. Yet everything was flavored so nicely that I didn’t mind much. The small, downmarket decor was not a problem, but I found myself focusing on patchy, broken paint on walls that needed a new coat. I suspect this is a popular destination for lunch; at two in the afternoon, it was still mostly full. I’m afraid I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me trying to replace Moksha, but this wasn’t bad.

Other blog posts about Tandoor:

The Blissful Glutton (Apr. 2 2009)
A girl and her words… (May 18 2011)