WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
This very modest Indian cafe is a case study in how sparse a restaurant’s trade can be while still remaining open. Known mostly to people who travel from Veterans to Airline on Cleary and to a small but loyal group of regulars, the Tandoori Chicken is supported by a few handsful of customers for its buffet lunch, and a scattering of dinner-seekers.
The menu claims that the Tandoori Chicken serves Singh food. “Singh” is the surname taken by members of the Sikh religion, who I am told have a somewhat different cuisine than that of the Hindus and the Muslims on the Subcontinent. I can’t claim to detect this difference. The menu is an abbreviated version of what you find in other local Indian restaurants with, I would say, less excitement. The best meal may be the daily lunchtime buffet. It’s certainly the most popular.
The Tandoori Chicken began in 1995 the food court at the Elmwood Mall. After that environment faded away, the restaurant moved to the dramatically different, one-floor-up clubhouse of an old blue-blood social club across from the Roosevelt Hotel. That was a tough marketing proposition. In 2007 it made a drastic location change to its present location in Metairie. All along it’s been the same owners and staff–Mohan Singh and Sukhdarshan Singh, who with their families do everything.
It’s a very modest square room in a secondary mini-mall, surrounded by a motley assortment of businesses. Nobody goes to the Tandoori Chicken for the atmosphere.
»Pappadums (crisp lentil-flour wafers)
Chicken, fish or shrimp pakoras (battered, fried nuggets)
Vegetable samosa (fried pie with potatoes and vegetables)
Parathas (puffy pastries wrapping chicken or vegetables)
»Raita (cucumber and yogurt salad)
Made with choice of »chicken, shrimp, fish, »lamb, »seenkh kebab (ground lamb), »paneer (housemade cheese) or »vegetables, with choice of curry sauces:
Basic curry (moderately spicy)
Korma curry (very mild, tomatoes and butter)
»Vindaloo (very spicy)
»Chicken tikka (roasted chicken half from the tandoor)
Biryani (basmati rice tossed with chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetables, or combinations)
Roti (like a flour tortilla) with chicken
»Naan bread (baked in the tandoor)
Onion or paneer (cheese) kulcha (a flatbread)
Aloo mutter (peas & potatoes)
Aloo cholli(potatoes & chickpeas)
»Mutter paneer (peas & cheese)
Channa masala (chickpeas)
Aloo bangan (potatoes & eggplant)
»Aloo gobi (potato & cauliflower)
Bangan bhartha (eggplant casserole)
Bhindi masala (okra)
»Palak paneer (spinach & cheese)
Kheer (rice pudding)
Mango lassi (yogurt drink)
FOR BEST RESULTS
The tandoor is, obviously, the center of the operation. It’s a super-hot clay-pot oven (the ancestor of the Big Green Egg) that roasts everything very quickly. Ascertain that any tandoori dishes will be made in the actual tandoor right then and there. Also, combinations are available that bring out a good, logical complete dinner at a reasonable price for several people.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
There could be an uptick in the freshness department. I have had some food here that seemed to be borderline leftovers. One night, I heard a microwave running in the kitchen, and right after it binged my food came out.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -2
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Easy, nearby parking