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Tandoori Village - Manassas, VA

Bacardi1 Mar 12, 2013 01:08 PM

Well, last month was my birthday, & since I hadn't dined in an Indian restaurant in DECADES (although I do cook it at home), we decided to try this spot thanks to many excellent reviews on "Yelp". However, I should have taken the time to read more, because while the food was spot-on delicious - we 1) didn't realize it was soft drinks only, & we'd wanted a celebratory libation, & 2) that there was parking in the rear - we had an extremely difficult time squeezing into what looked like the only tiny little slanted parking spot left in the front. They really should have a sign that additional parking is available out back, as well as more lighting out front. It was quite dark & spooky, especially with what looks like an abandoned falling-apart cottage directly next door, the "Days Inn" beyond that notwithstanding. As another reviewer mentioned, this is definitely NOT one of the better areas of Manassas, which can be a bit offputting - especially at night.

The place is also a good deal smaller than it appears on their website (where the heck do they ever squeeze in a "buffet"?). And the lighting in the main dining room is extremely bright. I don't like dining in the dark, but the ambience here would be so much nicer if they dimmed the lights a little. The Indian-style décor aside, the atmosphere was rather reminiscent of a local pizza parlor. The feeling was confirmed when our beverages (one water; one ice tea ($2) w/ free refills) were served in plastic tumblers with straws. Strange, since the food is served on nice slanted square white porcelain plates & in white porcelain ramekins & bowls; & the large white linen napkins are decoratively folded. Surely they could invest in some decent inexpensive glassware?

We had made a 6 p.m. reservation (their website suggests that weekend diners should make reservations a week in advance?), but found only 7 tables occupied, so were seated immediately. (Out of those 7 tables, at least 4 were Indian patrons who all seemed to know the staff - always a good sign.) Menus need some refurbishment. Plastic-coated, but heavily stained. Need replacement or a good scrub.
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Started with the "Garlic Shrimps" ($9) & "Keema Samosas" ($4) - 6 spicy perfectly-cooked large shrimp in a creamy, chili-spiked sauce, & ground goat with green peas in 2 tender flaky pastry triangles. Both were very flavorful, & I was pleased that the goat was actually goat (it wouldn't have been the first time that "goat" advertised in a restaurant turned out to be "lamb").

Then moved on to "Murgh Tikka" ($13) for hubby - spicy bite-size pieces of juicy, tender, seasoned white-meat chicken cooked in the tandoor , & "Lamb Vindaloo" ($13) for me - lean, tender lamb & potato cubes in an extra-spicy Vindaloo curry sauce. Both dishes were served over molded mounds of delicious Indian-spiced Basmati rice, with small side salads, & an extra-spicy dish of Daal (creamy yellow lentils topped with a drizzle of extra-hot chili oil).

To share, we also ordered a side of "Palak Paneer" ($8) (spiced pureed spinach with cubes of Indian-style fresh cheese), which is a favorite of mine, "Vegetable Raita" ($3), as well as plain Naan bread ($2). The Raita was the sole disappointment. Stated as "A choice of finely chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and boiled potato chunks in yogurt, flavored with roasted cumin and coriander powder", it was plain watery yogurt with perhaps a few stray shreds of cucumber. Nothing else was apparent. It was also served in a tiny little teacup-size dish - I expected a larger portion, even for just $3. The Naan (one), of course had also been cooked in the tandoor, & was authentically thin, wonderful, & HUGE.
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Dessert? Hubby had the "Home-Made Kulfi" ($4) - a sort of Indian ice cream that they'd molded around a small skewer & drizzled with both chocolate & fruit sauces, as well as crushed pistachios. I enjoyed my favorite Indian dessert, the "Rasmalai" ($5) - 2 soft disks of fresh Indian cheese in a sweet heavy cream sauce & also sprinkled with crushed pistachios.

Portions weren't large by any stretch, but adequate if one orders several dishes. We left full, but not overly stuffed. Service was - as many others have already stated - a bit on the slow side. I'd hate to be there when the place is full up. There were 3 gentlemen working the room, 2 of which could've been owners/managers. They were a bit difficult to understand (all 3 of them served us at one point or another), but were pleasant enough, & seemed appreciative when we praised the food. Bill after tax but before tip: $66.15.

Bottom line: Very good food with reasonable prices, if a little bit lacking in atmosphere & service. We'll return again for that "very good food".