Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tantra | Doncaster East

Tantra Indian
I know the words "fine dining" and "Indian cuisine" can't really go together, they're like Romeo & Juliet: star-crossed lovers.  Trust me, it's not because I don't think the flavours are up to it (because, believe you me, they are!), it's just - generally speaking - most Indian restaurants fall short of the ambiance, decor and service to be marked with the word. Add to that, the fact Indian food itself lacks the presentation savvy consistent with other "fine dining" establishments.

Poppadums
...But you'll be very glad to hear that Tantra Indian Restaurant has done an incredible job of combining those star-crossed lovers, at least that I've seen so far!
The restaurant itself is very nicely presented, low-lighting and candles. Cushions and wall decor. Our server actually had a tie and clothe over his right arm, "It's looking promising" we say to each other. We're seated, drinks ordered (a glass of wine and a beer), complimentary poppadums placed on the table, then our server proceeds to tell us - in great detail - the specials of the day. He tells us how each dish is prepared, what spices they're marinated in, and what flavours to expect. We're in shock, mind you - good shock - but shock nonetheless! "Could this be, honestly, truly....an Indian restaurant with fine dining qualities??"

Special Tasting Platter
We order the Tasting Platter, one of the specials on the board, to start off with. It's a mixture of meat and vegetarian options, so perfect for the two of us.  There's Seekh Kebab, Battered & Fried Mushrooms, Vegetarian Seekh Kebab (those skinny green things in the photo!), Marinated Lamb Chops, and Onion Bhajia - all served with a couple of dipping sauces (caution: one is VERY HOT CHILI!) in spoons. Oh, how very fine dining of them :) Overall the dish was good (particularly the meat Seekh Kebabs according to Shawn) - I'd eat it again, but wouldn't order it on the next visit (too many other things to try there!)

Beef Kashmiri & Paneer Makhani
Shawn ordered the Beef Kashmiri - which was full of his favourite deep, rich flavours. The meat was tender, and the bowl empty shortly thereafter! I requested the Paneer Makhani (are you surprised? No, didn't think you would be) and it - as expected - was full of spice, flavour, and paneer cheese!  To ensure Shawn wasn't alone in having an empty bowl, I made sure mine was polished off, too!

Epic Rice!
Of course our curries were accompanied with Rice (on a platter of epic proportions, so much so it needed its own stand!) and Garlic Nann Bread.  If I'm going to have a cry about this place at all, it would be that the naan wasn't as crispy & bread-y as I personally like it.  To me, a lot of Indian places serve up somewhat elastic-y and stretchy naan bread, which (to me) says it's not made on demand.  I'm not saying Tantra reheated it, or threw frozen naan in the tandoori oven, I'm just sayin' it wasn't up to (my) scratch!

Garlic Naan
Our server was as attentive as could be expected in a much finer restaurant, and his assistants were constantly clearing our table away and keeping food on the move.  The proprietor (or, who we think was the owner) was extremely friendly - knew almost everybody who came in (or called) by first name - and was totally charming.  He purposely looked at the name on my credit card when I went to pay (BTW - total bill came to $80.70) so he could look me in the eye and say "I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening Melissa".  Awwww, what a nice personal touch :)

We'd go again.  As a matter of fact...I'm a little tempted to go right now! ;P

Tantra on Urbanspoon

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