Opened last December in the Medical and Dental Arts Building next to the downtown library, this subversively named restaurant is full of surprises, starting with the entrance. A narrow, generically decorated bar, visible from the street, opens into a large, high-ceilinged dining room with curtained, cushy white-leather booths and starched white tablecloths bathed in the glow of an enormous light fixture that bears an uncanny resemblance to the carousel in Logan’s Run. The understaffed host station and corny, oversugary cocktail list suggest India House-style Westernization, but the mustard-heavy pickles ($2) will take your head off, and the leftovers from the enormous platter of fireytandoori murgh (chicken marinated in yogurt and cayenne served with onions and peppers, $16) will fill your fridge with an overpowering scent of woodsmoke.
There aren’t very many misses on the lengthy menu. Three must-tries are the muchli ka tikka (tandoor-grilled, spice-encrusted seasonal fish, $21), the chana pindi (mysteriously delicious chickpeas, $12) and the sweet, creamy murg makhani (“butter chicken” simmered in tomato curry, $16). Don’t skimp on the sides: the various flatbreads ($2-$4) come steaming fresh from the tandoor oven, and the chutneys and dhals are prepared with the same care as the entrees. Desserts are nothing to write home about, but the mango cheesecake ($5) is pleasant enough and does an excellent job of soothing your mouth after that tandoori chicken. And though the bill will be much larger than expected from an Indian restaurant, it’s hardly beyond reason—you’ll leave stuffed and happy for about $20-$25 per person.