The Clay Oven Tandoor & Tavern

Dempsey fans like us have been looking for something a little bit different for a weekend brunch. We could have gone for the usual eggs and hamburgers at Barracks or Café Hacienda, but instead we decided to pop by The Clay Oven Tandoor & Tavern to add some spice into our lazy Sunday afternoon. Previously known as Karma Kettle and Rhapsody, this Indian/North Indian restaurant and bar (which also serves a wide range of whiskies and makes for good chilling out)  underwent a name change and revamp while still retaining its tandoor dishes. It stands out from the rest of the establishments here with its relatively small size, and is packed to the brim with cool Indian artworks and furniture, making it a rather quaint and quiet hole-in-the-wall. While the vibe is great (the alfresco area, which seats about 20 people, is ideal for a chat over coffee), the food fared just slightly above average. Our main, the house special chicken sharabi, which was boneless chicken breast and thigh marinated with single malt scotch whiskey, was a wonderful cacophony of tastes as the chicken pieces were marinated with fresh ground spices and Punjabi masala, and went very well with our steamed rashmati rice, which came with a beautiful saffron fragrance. Our side of vegetable shaslik—button mushrooms, cottage cheese, cauliflower and potatoes barbequed in yoghurt sauce—lacked any aroma or real taste, except for obliterating chilies. Our pindi chana masala, chickpeas cooked in typical Punjabi-style, was thankfully spicy and sweet in just the right measures, and was a decent accompaniment to the naan bread, which could do with a little more crispiness. Overall, The Clay Oven Tandoor & Tavern provides a welcome respite from the rest of the predictable establishments around the area, and with a few small fixes should become quite a sensation.