Sitting atop the Sunrise Sports Club in Ridgeview, Tandoor overlooks a sports field. This is likely a good thing during the day, though the interior does feel somewhat like a clubhouse, and a sweaty squash player or two drinking beers in the corner might not seem amiss.
This is a wasted opportunity. If I bedecked my room with gold leaf statues of Shiva and Vishnu, lit some incense, set up some silken drapes and swapped my desk and chair for cushions and a floor table, people would call it kitsch and me a ‘hippie’. However, as an Indian restaurant, they have license to go all out with the gilt ornaments and elaborate furnishings. Obviously the food lies at the heart of what every restaurant does, but we dine out not just for the convenience, but for the experience, to escape the mundanity of our own kitchens, to have all our senses transported for a couple of hours.
We took to the menus over a bottle of Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon ($20), which was a great accompaniment to the dishes which followed.
The menu has a good variety of starters, a choice selection of curries (with the usual sides) and a simple but appealing offering of four deserts for diners to end with.
We started with samoosas – chicken ($4) and veg ($3). Each plate came with six pieces arranged around a coriander dipping sauce that was fresh and uplifting. The samoosas were wrapped in light, crispy filo, and were excellent. They piqued our appetites perfectly as we contemplated our next move.
Tandoor offers two sizes of curry, regular ($7/$8) for one person and the large ($11/$12), which our waiter told us serves two. We decided to order an array of curries to share at a curry-to-comrade ratio of 1:2. We chose five and the dhal ($8), each of which came with a small rice and needed bolstering with a round of their buttery nan bread. The service was unassuming and efficient and the food arrived in about fifteen minutes, all of it at once, very pleasing.
With so many curries to sample there was much discussion and delight around the table. Space prohibits a thorough description of each, but highlights for me included the Palak Paneer for the soft textures and simple flavours of the Indian cheese, and the scrumptious Kaju Curry – roasted cashews in a rich gravy.
Though the curries were delicious with perfectly balanced flavours, my palette craved a bit more punch on the heat front, especially from the lamb curry which we asked to be very hot but wasn’t. The lamb was tender and tasty though, and a perfect friend to the red wine. The fish curry was also delicious, the simple fishiness rose up elegantly from the complex aromatic bed of spices it was served in.
We sampled the Gulab Jambun ($4) for dessert. It had a curious appearance (four brown balls in a runny syrup), but was superb. Soft, warm, and like most Asian desserts, very very sweet. We were disappointed that there was no espresso on the menu, Jambun and espresso would be a triumph! I also tried the Tandoor Special Lassi ($5), which was a beer glass-sized milkshake in reality. Nice, but I’m dubious about its authenticity.
Overall we left feeling very pleased. The bill was Zimbabwean in that it was a bit higher than fair for portions we felt should have been bigger, but as far as flavours and variety went, it was a great meal.
I recommend Tandoor for large parties and as a good place for vegetarians to enjoy some delicious meat-free dining, often hard to come by in Zimbabwe. I also recommend drinking red wine with all their food. To finish up, do pick one of their specialty desserts to share – you won’t be disappointed!