It had been a long day of driving, stopping at accounts between Davenport and the Twin Cities, when I got into my hotel in Bloomington, MN one evening earlier this summer. I have an application on my smart phone that allows me to see what restaurants are in the area. I wasn't too thrilled with going across the parking lot to Joe Senser's for a burger and few beers, so I looked up what was in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. A name that came up and one that wasn't far at all from the hotel was an Indian restaurant called Tandoor. Looking to expand my knowledge about Indian food, I set off in that direction.
Tandoor has been in business since the mid 80's when Kul and Sarita Kalra opened their original restaurant on E. Hennepin, caddy-cornered from Surdyk's across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis. After the city renovated their building and jacked up their rent, and seeing a need to grow their business, they found a new location about 1996 in a secluded strip mall of Bloomington off of American Blvd. at the end Morgan Circle just behind the Southtown Center shopping complex (see map). Tandoor specializes in Southern Indian cuisine, clay oven specialties and has a number of Indian-inspired seafood entrees along with vegetarian dishes. At lunch, they also feature an all-you-can-eat buffet where you can try a little bit of everything.
It was around 8:30 when I got into Tandoor. I was greeted by a young man and seated at a table and given a menu. Tandoor's interior is similar to many other Indian restaurants I've been in lately - well lit with a Southern Asian motif throughout the restaurant. They were busy and I noticed that a number of a India natives were eating in the place - always a good sign in an Indian restaurant.
After my experience with Tandoori chicken at the Himalayan restaurant in the Chicago area, I knew that any clay oven entrees were probably not going to happen for me this particular evening. Tandoor featured a number of curried dishes, lamb and goat entrees (sorry, had the goat before and will pass), the aforementioned seafood entrees, as well as the normal chicken dishes such as vendaloo, tikka masala and madras, which is made with a coconut sauce in curry. It's supposedly a delicacy in Southern India. One thing that caught my eye was the chicken mushroom entree with boneless chicken breasts in a curry sauce with fresh mushrooms. In fact, they may have had a dozen different varieties of entrees for the chicken alone.
I do remember liking the chicken vendaloo before - basically boneless chicken and potatoes in a somewhat spicy and tangy red sauce. When the waiter finally came over to take my order after sitting there for 10 minutes, I ordered that. I also ordered a side of garlic naan bread and a Taj Mahal beer. I was beginning to sense that the service was a little less than desirable at Tandoor.
I did get my beer right away, but it was sort of warmish in the bottle. I didn't care - it had been a long day and I wanted a beer. The Taj Mahal bottle is 22 oz. and it didn't take me long to nearly finish that bottle. By the time my meal showed up, I was ready for another one.
I had hoped my garlic naan would be out before my meal, but it came out with my chicken vendaloo. A waiter other than the guy who took my order brought out my food and I pointed to my empty bottle of Taj Mahal thinking that he'd get the idea that I wanted another one. He picked it up and walked away. I didn't get another beer and no one came to check on me the rest of the meal.
A side of rice was served with the chicken vendaloo and I added some of both together. First of all, I don't know if it was good vendaloo or not, other than the fact that it tasted very good to me. So, I'm guessing it was good. The sauce was excellent with a minor bite of spiciness to it. But the highlight of the meal was dipping the garlic naan into the vendaloo sauce. Oh, boy! The garlic naan was outstanding. I've not had a lot of garlic naan during my Indian food excursions, but it was just wonderful.
I noticed a guy next to me was having one of the many vegetarian meals they feature at Tandoor. In fact, Tandoor is considered by many to be one of the top vegetarian restaurants in the Twin Cities. But he was also having the same problem I was having. Once our meals came out, they pretty much forgot about us. I really did want another beer, but ended up just drinking water with the rest of my meal. Then when we both were ready to leave, no one was around where we could get our checks. The guy finally just got up and went up to the cash register and stood there for about two minutes before one of the waiters saw him. Then he had to go find his waiter to get his check.
I sat at the table for another five minutes waiting on my check. Finally, a waiter came around with a pitcher of water and offered to fill up my glass. I said, "No thanks, I really need my check, though."
And it was another full five minutes, at least, before my waiter came with my check. By this time, I was fuming. I was tired and I really wanted another beer. (Thankfully, there was a liquor store just down the way in the strip mall and I got a sixer to take back to my room.) The waiter didn't get a very good tip from me.
Overall the food at Tandoor was very good. I liked it tremendously. The service plain sucked. And that's too bad. As much as I liked the food at Tandoor, I'll have to seriously think about going back in the future. Bad service overshadows good food in my book, and unfortunately for my experience at Tandoor, it left a bad taste in my mouth.