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WRETCHED Meal at Tiffin Last Week

I ate dinner at Tiffin Mt. Airy this week and had an across the board, hideous meal. No brightness,
no subltelty, a raw, soggy,not crisp outer shell with a sugary sweet filling that had NO flavor in a deep fried appetizer, absolutely zero flavor in the Tandori chicken and too much cream in our main dish which had also taken a trip through the deflavorizer. Never again!!! Tiffin is expanding all over the burbs and offering food which does not exemplify the complexity and exquisite aspects of Indian food in any way. And the take out was FLYING out the door, we need options in Mt. Airy !!!!!!!!

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  1. Could I suggest you give Saffron a try at one of its two locations. We love Indian food and have some experience with it at locations in the United Kingdom. We have found Saffron to be excellent and have avoided Tiffin since finding it. Finding great Indian in Philadelphia is a challenge. Perhaps we can garner other suggestions from the "hounds"?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Bacchus101

      I second Saffron, I have always had across the board fabulous meals there, perfect balance of heat and spice, everything tastes fresh (which sometimes gets lost in indian restaurants). The Ambler location is not too far from Mt. Airy. We live in Ambler and do the reverse drive into Mt. Airy all the time (Wine Theif is a favorite) and its a quick drive.

      1. re: AmblerGirl

        We had dinner at Saffron in Ambler last night - perfect as always. Even though they couldn't find our reservation, they were very gracious and seated us immediately. We live in Ft. Washington and also make the Mt. Airy drive frequently, it's easy and quicker than you think it will be.

      2. re: Bacchus101

        I live a couple blocks from Saffron in Bala Cynwyd and tried the Tiffin from Wynnewood. Saffron is a few bucks more, but worth it.

        1. re: phillyjazz

          I certainly concur. Saffron is the clear winner in this area.

        2. re: Bacchus101

          The King of Prussia area seems to be the best bet for Indian cuisine. There are some threads about it:

          1. re: Bacchus101

            If we're going more regional, I have tended to avoid Indian in the city for the most part (given similar experiences + not knowing which were the goto places), and when in the mood or when in the area have hit Iselin/Edison and Jersey City -- certainly not a quick if you're in Philly, and not an after/work thing coming from Philly, but when you need authentic, you go to the source!

            Also - closer to home, I've gone to a Pakistani place (no, not Indian, but some common dishes including samosas, a few similar chutneys, chai, tandoori), Kabobeesh, on Chestnut and 42nd: http://www.kabobeesh.com/

          2. I've yet to have bad food from Tiffin, we probably eat their food once a month or so and have for the past year and a half. So maybe - I'm hoping? - just an off night.

            The one thing I do dislike about Tiffin, though, is the priority they give to takeout/delivery. When you eat there, you definitely don't feel like you're their priority. It would feel a lot better if they somehow had it physically separated, so that the people getting their takeout right away woudn't be walking past you all the time during your dining-in experience.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bob Loblaw

              Nope, not an off night as far as I'm concerned. I've eaten at Tiffin several times, never been happy with my meals(and neither have my dining companions) but this last one put the nail in the samosa. The lack of care in any restaurant meal is unforgiveable to me. I am careful where I choose to eat. I was very hungry the night I ate at Tiffin, worrying that I would not be happy but threw caution to the wind. Too bad the fantastic Dosa Hut in Trooper is so far. They serve great,tasty,authentic,cheap South Indian food.

              Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try Saffron.

              1. re: missclaudy

                Well, if you've never had a good meal there, and I've never had a bad one, sounds like different strokes for different folks.
                I don't want to overexagerrate it - I wouldn't travel that far for Tiffin's food, but I'm really really glad to have it in the neighborhood. But, again, I wish that they would be better at treating the eat-in folks like they were a bigger priority.

            2. You say "expanding all over the burbs." Is this a chain or franchise? I'll make sure to approach with caution.

              On a more promising note, we are getting a new Indian restaurant in Trooper (Rt. 363 and Ridge Pike) next to the Acme in the space vacated by that abominable Chinese buffet. I think its called Spice Kitchen. Its not open yet but put it on your radar.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Chefpaulo

                Tiffin was started as a new concept delivery service for Indian food, modeled after the tiffinwallahs in India who deliver hot meals to businessmen daily. The owner has an MBA from Penn, but I believe his first chef came from Ekta. The first location was in NoLib, and the only thing they offered was either take-out or the delivery service. The stuff was very good, and the service unique. They added a dining area to the NoLib location, and started expanding to other locations as well. They have also added a line of spices to their repertoire. I was quite a fan back when they first started, however I have become much less so over the years. I might order from Tiffin, but would not really go to one of their locations for a sit-down meal. I have to admire the business accumen on the guy who started the whole thing. You can check them out at www.tiffin.com

                1. re: PattiCakes

                  A British concept with execution by Indians started during the British Raj for the delivery of individually home prepared food; remarkable indeed and still going strong today. I was not aware that Tiffin attempted the delivery part ? Sorry to say we also have been recently disappointed in the food, venues and service at Tiffin.

                  1. re: PattiCakes

                    Actually Tiffin predated Ekta. Raju Bhattarai is the chef/owner of new kid on the block Ekta. He's also Tiffin's former executive chef. Ekta has been around since 2008 if my memory serves me correctly. Now the two companies are competing head to head. TIffin is supposed to be opening a new high dining version of Tiffin (think Cafe Spice but done well ... ). But both Ekta and Tiffin have been expanding to the burbs.. where there certainly is a demand, especially among young professionals of indian origin that miss their mother's cooking.

                    1. re: PattiCakes

                      Tiffin came first, then the chef left to start Ekta. I just wish either of them delivered to South Philly (I know some Ekta food is available at Green Aisle).

                      1. re: barryg

                        Sorry I got confused. Where did Tiffin's original chef come from? I thought he came from and existing place in Philly.

                        The original concept was really cool. You could order one of 3 tiffins for lunch -- two being vegetatian, and one with meat. The tiffin consisted of the entree, a dahl and a vegetable offering--the dahl and the veggie were that same for each of that day's offerings. You also got basmati rice. The cost was $7.50 or $8.50, and the tiffin was delivered to you. I work at 20th & market, & went through a period where I ordered so much from them that I should have been wearing a sari to work. Then they imposed a $15 minimum for deliveries, which threw me fo a loop. No one else at work likes Indian food, 2 tiffins is too much for me to eat, if you order an entree you lose the varietry of the sides, yada yada. And their online ordering is now somewhat quirky. I haven't ordered from them in almost a year.

                        1. re: PattiCakes

                          Munish Narula started Karma before he started the Tiffin franchise... I do not recall if a chef came along with him from Karma.

                  2. That's a shame. We had take-out from the Elkins Park Tiffin and it was as usual, which is to say good, but not great Indian. I always love the saag paneer and it seemed the same as always. Considering the limited options around here, I'm glad Tiffin is what it is.

                    1. Ekta is the best Philadelphia area Indian food I've had. Not sure if either location is located close to you.

                      1. A bit of a hike from Mt Airy is Aman's in East Norriton at Germantown and 202, a great Indian restaurant. We took our New York friends there, one was a vegetarian, and they all loved it.
                        Closer to Mt Airy in Wyndmoor is Bhagya's kitchen which is good.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: thehungrything

                          I thought Tiffin in Mt. Airy was wonderful when it first opened. However, this is the third (and I think last time) we are ordering from there. What happened? The food doesn't taste fresh and bright anymore. Did they change chefs? Such a disappointment, there are so few places around here for great ethnic food.

                          1. re: DaisyM

                            I've seen them haul in the "entrees" in large plastic bins from a van. Each tub is filled with the prepared sauces. The van is not refrigerated and during the summer who knows how long it has been sitting in the heat...or how far it traveled. When I saw that..I walked out before ordering and I've not returned. This may explain why it does not taste fresh. It is reheated.....

                            1. re: Displaced California Foodie

                              DCF, thanks for your detective work on TIffin! Ugh! Many other choices have been mentioned here favorably including Saffron (two locations), Everest, Cross Cultures, Ekia, Amans, Spice Kitchen to mention just a few. Give them a try and perhaps you will find good fresh Indian to your liking.

                              1. re: Bacchus101

                                Bacchus101: Ordered takeout from Spice Kitchen today. Read some great reviews here on Chowhound and heard great comments from friends at work. Ordered Palak Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala and garlic naan. YUMMY. The Palak Paneer was the best I've ever had. I ordered it medium spicy and it was a tad too spicy for me but that did not stop me from eating it- it was wonderful. My son loved the chicken tikka masala and the naan was delicious. I am not eating meat at this time so cannot provide any addl details regarding the chicken. We will definitely go back and we plan to "eat-in" next time.

                                1. re: Displaced California Foodie

                                  not sure if you saw my post on another thread but my husband and i had a VERY strange experience at SK the other evening...enuf so that we didn't eat there....nor would i be comfortable returning or ordering take out
                                  glad you were happy with you meals....saffron here i come!

                                  1. re: ilovesummer

                                    No I did not see it before I went. If I had I would not have gone to SK.
                                    I'll keep my fingers crossed and will not return. Thank you for the information.

                        2. Tiffin's food is pretty lame...you'll do better following recipes at home from a bad Indian cookbook...trust me.

                          Plus their menu choices and restrictions are incredible! No lunch specials for eat in, have to order from dinner menu, and the restrictions go on...by the time you are done ordering you know you are being forced to order more than you can eat just so you will be happy paying more...

                          Try Ekta if you're lucky enough to have one near by...like we do in Bryn Mawr....very friendly, and much better food....they should start doing lunch specials for eat in...

                          1. Spice Indian & Thai Bistro in Newtown Square / Edgemont is terrific. Love, Love Love, that place.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Whinerdiner

                              We had takeout from Tiffin this weekend.
                              It was good. Like it always is.
                              Still more plastic waste involved in the take-out than I'd like, or we'd get take out more often. It's quite tasty, especially the bread.

                              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                I'm with you. We regularly get takeout from the Tiffin in Elkins Park. It is consistent and good. In fact, it is just about the only decent takeout in the whole area. I love Indian, and cook my own when I have time. I know good Indian and, while Tiffin may not be at the very top (not much in the greater Philly area is), it is very good and I'm happy they are here.

                                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                                  we usually get delivery from Tiffin Mt Airy and the last time the dishes had about 4-5 pieces of chicken a piece! (mostly sauce) I usually like the food, but feel sometime the staff is rude.

                                  1. re: mandysaunders3

                                    When we lived in Center City five yrs. ago, we frequently ordered delivery from the Tiffin on Girard Ave. and were never disappointed. When we moved to Glenside, we were happy to hear that there was a Tiffin in Elkins Park. Boy, were we disappointed. We tried it twice eat-in, twice take-out. First experience wasn't bad - not up to our expectations, but not bad. Next three experiences - all very disappointing. We haven't returned. We did hear all the food was brought in from another location, so if that's true that's certainly an explanation. My theory is that they expanded too quickly, beyond their ability to keep up with quality. Reminds me of authors who only have one good book in them but write five :-)

                                    Last weekend we wanted Indian food, didn't want to travel far, and Saffron in Ambler had no reservation available for the time we needed. We decided to try Palace of Asia in Fort Washington, not with high expectations but hoping for better than Tiffin. We were very pleasantly surprised. My husband had soup, we shared an appetizer, and shared two entrees, and all was delicious - plus we had leftovers to bring home. Our waiter was knowledgable and when my husband asked about the lack of papdi chaat on the appetizer menu, knowing that's one of my favorites, the waiter said it's a very common roadside stand food in India, (we hadn't known that) and they could make it for us if we wanted. I wasn't in the mood for it that night so didn't take him up on it, but we'll be back there.

                                    1. re: lauracohenromano

                                      We haven't been to Palace of Asia for quite awhile because we thought they food just wasn't very good any more. Went recently and was quite happy with it. I am not sure what has changed, but would happily go back.

                                      1. re: asmith

                                        Good to know. Perhaps they got a new chef?

                                        1. re: DaisyM

                                          Sorry to say that we had take out from Palace of Asia this weekend and it was very oily and heavy.

                                          Palace of Asia
                                          540 Lawrence Square Blvd S, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

                                      2. re: lauracohenromano

                                        Sounds like Tiffin has gone the way of Boston Market (remember when it was good and in the Devon Shopping Center ONLY) and Krispy Kreme Donuts? Way too much expansion, way too fast and the quality goes straight to hell!

                              2. patti, i agree with every point you made about tiffin... i can remember when they first opened, close enough to my house to smell it when i was in my backyard. i felt guilty ordering online when the food was THIS close, but it was the middle of winter and i got a kick out of the suited delivery man. munish narula's business plan is damn impressive. but at some point i fell out of love with the food. when i need a north indian fix i've been hitting up sahara indian cuisine, the new place at randolph and girard. their business model seems to be to copy the tiffin menu but cheaper and slightly better, though i am still trying to figure out how the sahara is linked to india :) try them out if you get a chance... it's fun to order your food there and watch them prepare it in the open kitchen, though they do not have any dining in space. though lately i have been on a south indian kick, and i'm really having a hard time finding it in philly - any suggestions? i'm about to resort to making my own masala dosas at home :)

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: rabidog

                                  Have you tried Phila Chutney Co? They make all kind of crazy fusion dosas but also have traditional ones. There are a couple South Indian spots in the Northeast, too, I think Brian Freedman wrote a review of one a few months back.

                                  1. re: barryg

                                    Phila Chutney is on my list of places to try once the weather gets better.

                                    Rabid: haven't heard from you in a loooong time! Does Sahara deliver to CC I wonder?

                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                      i know, i miss it here!... i've been working part-time in NYC and have shifted many of my foodie adventures there... though not been posting them as frequently either, since it seems my home lately has been the megabus!!!

                                      next time i'm in sahara i'll inquire. they now seem to have a website! http://www.saharaindiancuisine.com/

                                      1. re: rabidog

                                        Seriously, I am outraged that there are three Indian takeout places on Girard Ave and nothing below South St.

                                        1. re: barryg

                                          tell munish narula to get back from india and get on it!!!

                                        2. re: rabidog

                                          thanks for the tip on sahara! do you ever dine on ekta/how would you compare? both are in walking/delivery distance for me

                                          1. re: padovana

                                            been awhile since i've done ekta, just because i'm on the tiffin/sahara end of girard (haha, life is rough...). honestly the menus look similar to me (if ekta hasn't changed their menu from the one i have, which i picked up not long after they opened). sahara is oily for sure. i wasn't bowed over by the samosa chaat at either, but everything else i've had from both has been quite tasty. one of these days i need to have a ton of people over and order from all three at the same time, to do a real comparison. i mean, is there ever such thing as too many tandoori vegetables??? i definitely want to do a side-by-side biryani comparison, too, as that's my favorite thing since sliced bread lately.