Restaurant Review: Tandoori Grill Xpress
Normally, a review of a hotel snack shop like G&Z Stores would be something a CU reader could expect on April Fool’s Day. The possibilities for writer snark are endless. From the faux chocolate on Nestle’s Butterfingers, to the lack of fresh-from-the-farm, locally sourced ingredients, it’s ripe for the picking.
But this is not April. And the snack shop at Capitol Square is no ordinary snack shop. In fact, it’s been hosting a pop-up lunch operation Wednesdays through Fridays over the noon hour, and downtown workers are queuing up all the way down the aisles of the store to load up on… Indian Food*.
The victuals are served carry-out, from a mini-cafeteria set up on a table with warming trays. The operation is an offshoot of Tandoori Grill, a sit-down restaurant on Bethel Road.
The menu options are written on a dry-erase board, but you can also just look and point, because that’s how cafeteria-style operations work. If you need to read about your food, menus from Tandoori Grill location are available to look up details (as well as all the other things on the menu that are not available at the pop-up).
There are options for vegetarians, and lots of options for people who like chicken. The favorite offering so far is the Chicken Seekh ($8). It’s fingers of ground chicken mixed with spices. The result is something akin to sausage, only without the fattiness or filler. It’s lean, mean sausage sticks.
That’s not to say that the regular Boneless Chicken ($8) is a slouch. It’s flavorful and meaty: it’s just less remarkable than its sausage-y cafeteria colleague.
A compromise option might a familiar Chicken Biryani ($8) – it’s a comforting stew that features chunks of chicken in a thick, yogurt-based sauce tinged with tomato, garlic, and cardamom. The end result is both creamy and flavorful.
And for vegetarians, there is a Chickpea option ($8). It’s a stew, thick with garbanzos, that is distinguished by a likable, starchy-bean flavor associated with legumes.
Entrees are served with saffron rice and a salad. The rice is very long grain and multi colored -it looks lots like vermicelli (in spite of the menu name) and makes a sturdy foil for the dishes. The salad is a mix of iceberg, tomatoes and cucumbers, it’s good for some crunch and variety in the meal.
For snackers, there are traditional Samosas priced at $1 for each sturdy pocket stuffed with soft potato. There is also a chicken version of samosa, it’s an item so popular that it sold out halfway through lunch hour, and well before the visit.
And for dessert and drinks? You’ll have to check out the aisles of the convenience store.
At this point in time, the cafeteria is available only during lunch time, and only Wednesdays through Fridays. The easiest way to find the place is to walk through Capitol Square’s entrance off of State Street; bear to the left, and down a luxe hallway. There, you’ll find G&Z’s sign overhead, and a stand announcing Indian food inside.
*Tandoori Grill is categorized online as both Pakistani and Indian, in terms of cuisine influences. It’s all good, whatever it is.
For more information, visit www.tandoorigrill.biz.
Photos by Walker Evans. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.