Tempting meat and vegetable pakoras served on a sizzling hotplate. This was the best dish of the evening.
Walking along the side of Eastwood that is mostly frequented by Chinese restaurants at the end of Rowe Street; hungry diners can find a rare Indian restaurant by the name of Tandoori Lovers. The restaurant is discernible by its bright orange colouring and street signage.
The vibrant orange exterior will make this restaurant hard to miss
I arrived here with my partner at 6pm, and found that the restaurant was empty - of which is mainly because the restaurant specialises in home delivery and take-away. However, the quiet atmosphere is particularly enjoyable for a date, or for catch up with friends - as you definitely won't have to strain to hear speech as in other, louder restaurants.
Bright decor wakes up the senses
The restaurant has been recently renovated, and features a vibrant orange exterior with white tablecloths and tiled floors. There are Indian pictures hanging on the walls, and soft Indian music plays in the background. We are seated promptly, and my partner and I decided to get the Tandoori Lovers Banquet ($59.80) - which consists of a mixed meat and vegetable entree to share between two - with two meat curries, one vegetable curry, naan bread, rice, and two desserts. It's quite good value for money, especially as the serving sizes are large and hearty. Immediately after ordering, the waitress arrives at our table with a complimentary serving of pappadums with a mint dipping sauce. The pappadums are crisp and crunchy, and the mint sauce is cool on the tongue. It's a tantalising appetiser and preview of whats to come.
A complimentary appetiser
Our entree arrives quickly after ordering, and it is served on a sizzling hotplate with a wedge of lemon to taste, together with some mint and coriander dipping sauce. Our first course consists of two Vegetable Pakoras, two pieces of Tikka Pudina (marinated chicken), two Hussaini Seekh Kebabs (charcoal roasted mince), and two pieces of Barrah Kebab (marinated lamb cutlets). All the meat dishes are seasoned and marinated to perfection. Dipping the meat into the mint sauce complements the flavours very well. My partner and I were very happy with the quality and tenderness of the meat, and therefore we scarfed our first course down like we hadn't eaten in days - while we eagerly anticipated our next course.
For the main course, we ordered Mango Chicken, Beef Vindaloo, and Dum Aloo as the choice of vegetarian curry. The Mango Chicken was cooked in a fragrant sauce, and is only mildly spicy. Therefore this dish is a good choice for those who can't handle chilli. However, the Beef Vindaloo would have been preferable for people who are lovers of the hot and spicy. Beef Vindaloo is likely to be one of the spiciest curries you can get, and although delicious - I would not recommend this dish for the faint-hearted. The Dum Aloo was a nice alternative from the meat curries we'd ordered, and this dish included fried potatoes cooked in a rich tomato based sauce - together with some herbs and spices that made it delicious. It was at about the same level of spiciness as the Mango Chicken. On that, it was therefore pleasant to alternate between the Beef Vindaloo and the milder curries. Although neither my partner or I are vegetarian - we enjoyed the Dum Aloo very much, and as the vegetarian options at this restaurant are cooked well and delicious: I'm sure other carnivores would appreciate them too.
Out of the three curries we had, it was difficult to say which was the best tasting, as they were all delightful. Both my partner and I agreed that the Dum Aloo was a pleasant and delectable surprise. Often I assume that vegetarian food will be bland and dull, but clearly that is not the case at Tandoori Lovers.
Generous servings of traditional Indian cuisine had us fuller than anticipated
The curries are also accompanied by Biryani Rice and two servings of Garlic Naan, which have been considerately cut into small pieces.
Biryani Rice and Garlic Naan were the perfect companions with the curry
The main courses were so filling, where my partner and I were unable to finish our meals. We therefore opted to get the rest of our food to take-away, however decided to have dessert at the restaurant.
We ordered the Gulab Jamun (milk balls in rose syrup) and Pistachio Kulfi (similar to pistachio ice cream) for dessert, along with a Mango Lassi ($3.90) to top it all off. Although the main courses have generous servings, the desserts are served in tiny portions - which is very different from the desserts you'll find at a western restaurant. Despite this, the desserts are exotic and enticing, and they also leave you to the point of wanting more. The Pistachio Kulfi resembles ice cream, and has a similar texture - but is a touch sweeter and creamier than a regular ice cream.
Lovers of sweets may be dismayed at the small portions
The Gulab Jamun is a favourite dessert of mine, so I am a little biased in this case - yet I think it is a perfect option for those with a sweet tooth. The Gulab Jamun is served hot, and the aroma of rose syrup is a pleasant treat for the senses.
Gulab Jamun - an exotic dessert that will leave you wanting more.
The service at Tandoori Lovers is flawless, and our waitress made excellent cuisine suggestions during our dinner. I would describe the service as genuine and warm, and was the cherry on top of a wonderful evening. All up, our bill came to $71.50, which consisted of the Tandoori Lovers banquet ($59.80) and two cans of Coke ($7.80) - together with one Mango Lassi ($3.90). It was an extremely satisfying dinner, and is great for people who want to enjoy a meal without having it break the budget. The extensive menu options also makes Tandoori Lovers a good option for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Where: 255 Rowe Street Eastwood NSW
Why: For the extensive menu options - including dishes that will please both meat-eaters and vegetarians.
Cost: $59.80 for the banquet option, while meat curries start from $14.90, and vegetable curries range from $11.90-$13.90.
When: Dinner 7 nights a week, open from 5pm until late.
Good for kids: Yes
Take away: Yes, and home delivery too.