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Review: Copper Kettle (Tempe, AZ)

jasonaz May 12, 2007 07:42 PM

Rating: ★ ½

I’ve heard good things about Copper Kettle in Tempe, which serves a mixture of Indian, Pakistani, and Afghani food. This is a difficult review for me to write, because I know there are people that love the place; however, I had a bad experience, and I have to provide an objective account of that .

When we entered the restaurant, there were no employees in sight. After a short wait, we grabbed menus from the counter and decided we should just seat ourselves. We waited another 10 minutes and still no one came out to greet us. Finally, Hiran went into the kitchen to tell them we were ready to order. An expressionless lady came out and stood behind the counter. We realized that she wasn’t going to come to our table so we walked up to the counter and ordered. We returned to our table, and after a while we realized that the drinks were self-serve. We just wanted some water, but she hadn’t bothered to mention that we should help ourselves.

Our food arrived after a moderate wait. The dishes looked quite appetizing. I had Chicken Boti Sultani ($6), which is basically a tandoori chicken kabob. The cuts of chicken breast were much larger than I’ve ever seen on a kabob. I found that they were very difficult to cut into for two reasons. One was that I wasn’t given a knife. We walked around looking for a knife, but were unable to locate one. We finally asked the lady, and she begrudgingly brought me one. The other reason was that the chicken was raw in the center. I didn’t even bother complaining at this point, I just cut off the cooked portions that I could salvage. The cooked parts were very tasty. I could tell the kabob would have been enjoyable if it were cooked properly. My meal also came with fresh nan bread, which I love. It was a little too burnt in spots, but I didn’t mind as I like burnt stuff. The yogurt dipping sauce was good as well.

My wife got the Chicken Tandoori Tikka ($6). This is a typical thigh/leg tandoori plate served with nan. She enjoyed her meal, and didn’t have any issues with the preparation. She enjoyed the dish, and her only complaint was that the chicken was a bit dry. She really liked the onions that were served on the side. They had been soaked in a vinegary sauce, which gave them a nice, acidy bite.

Hiran got the Chicken Sindhi Biryani ($6). Hiran thought the meal was so-so. He’s Sri-Lankan, so he’s a pretty tough judge of Indian food. I tried a bite of his basmati rice, since my plate didn’t have any, and it was good. I rather wish the plates would have come with a bit of basmati and nan.

There is no excuse in the food industry for serving undercooked meat, especially chicken. There’s also no excuse for such poor service. It was the worst service that I can recall in recent memory. I don’t know if I just caught them on a bad day, or if the management is always this bad, but based on my experience I can’t recommend eating at the Copper Kettle. On the other hand, I could tell that if they had better staff running the place, and if they were more careful in their preparation, that this could make for an enjoyable meal.

Note: I should also mention that this location doesn’t win any points for atmosphere. It’s in a small, run-down commercial center just east of ASU. They do have another location in Mesa on Guadalupe and Dobson, which I would like to try someday. Perhaps it is better managed.

1050 E. Terrace Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85202
phone: (480) 894-1276
hours: 11-10 daily
email: copperkettle@aol.com

Savory photos and more reviews can be found at: www.chowdownphoenix.com

  1. p
    PantherKarl Nov 24, 2010 10:07 AM

    I have been to both tempe and mesa copper kettle, with a couple of friends from India... I will say yeah service is not great at the tempe one, but a lot of people from that area of the world go ing to A.S.U. go there and the food was great. I got this combo plate that came on a tray like you use to get in school, with the sections in it. but my friends ordered for me and everything was yummy. At the dobson/gudalupe one you get great service and the food id great. I can never go by myself without my india friends cause I forget the names of the food...lol. P.S. I love that flatbread they serve too! Pan...something

    1. silverbear May 12, 2007 09:51 PM

      What a bummer. I'm desperate for at least some Afghan food since there is currently no 100% Afghan restaurant in the Phoenix Metro Area. The nearest is in Tucson.

      1. IamJacksBrain May 12, 2007 08:27 PM

        I haven't been to the Tempe location, but from the sounds it it's completely different from the Mesa location (just like the quality of the lunch buffet is completely different from the menu items).

        2 Replies
        1. re: IamJacksBrain
          silverbear May 12, 2007 09:51 PM

          In Mesa, is the lunch buffet better or worse than the menu items?

          1. re: silverbear
            IamJacksBrain May 14, 2007 10:00 AM

            The buffet was significantly worse.

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