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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Food
Feel
Price
7.6
7.5
$25
Indian
Casual restaurant

Hours
Daily 11:30am–10:30pm

Features Delivery, kid-friendly, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Upper Chapel Area
1226 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 776-6620
Tandoor
(Improved) Indian food in a diner—fancy that

Here’s the sympathetic interpretation (sympathetic to us, anyway): Tandoor has vastly improved since the Second Edition. The Indian-American classics are executed with care. Tandoori chicken is now remarkably moist, layered with flavor, some of the best in the city. Lamb in the curries and stews is surprisingly tender. Saag paneer has an ideal texture, although it’s laced with an unusual amount of ginger. Bhaigan bharta, an eggplant dish, has good flavor. The lunch buffet, which (unusually) features authentic touches like spicy pickle and nicely acidic raita, is now up to $10, but it’s still one of the city’s great deals, a cut above the local competition.

Here’s the unsympathetic interpretation: we just got it wrong last time around, when it got a mere 5.8 for food. Maybe we happened to have visited on bad days. Maybe we ordered wrong. It happens. Who knows?

But here’s the part that’s indisputable: Tandoor, set inside a diner, breaks new ground for Indian-restaurant packaging. We’ve still never seen anything like it: the restaurant was once the Elm City Diner, the real thing, complete with the old ersatz train-car style. It’s an amusing sign of the times that the most authentic-looking diner in this old-school American town serves Indian food.

The food won’t blow your mind. Chicken, in the various curries, is a particular weak point. The white-meat chunks come incredibly dry and overcooked. Even if Tandoor—improved though it may be—is eclipsed by some of the newer competition, do keep in mind that the entertainment value of eating Indian food inside an old diner is quite significant. At a minimum, you need to see it for yourself.

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