Da Tandoor

1010 Fort St,  tel: 384-6333

Not the cleanest restaurant in Victoria, I sure do like the food. Da Tandoor looks looks grubby and run down. I remember a time when the restaurant was vaguely elegant, but they haven't done anything to maintain that atmosphere. Da Tandoor has a rep for loosey-goosey food-safe practices and health inspection reports to confirm it, but nonetheless I still can't help myself from eating there on occasion.

It took awhile for us to be seated and the cocktail service was non-existent, but all in all the our server was friendly and adequately attentive.

As with most Asian restaurant the wine list leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the wine selections were peculiar and ill paired, many labels were mysteriously obscure, but we were able to find a sweeter, German white wine that was suitable for our dinner. The beer selection was pretty skint and Patty was a little disappointed. The server did respond quickly when our wine bottle cracked during opening. She acknowledged it immediately and quickly replaced it.

As with many Asian restaurants, when dining in a two-some, combos are the best way to go. Patty ordered  the Tandoori combo ($18.95) and I had the Chef's Special ($17.95). Both combos were served with excellent fresh naan bread and rice, and were large enough to fill us up, but not grotesquely so.  That said, I don't recommend ordering a first course, or planning to have dessert.

While the vegetable curry that was served with both combos was fairly unimpressive, the rest of the platters were pretty darn tasty. For me the highlight was the lamb curry and the tandoori chicken. The lamb was spicy, tender and rich, with a good balance of aromatics and heat. The tandoori similarly retained the aromatic characteristics of the the marinade and was not chewy or dry like this dish can easily be. In a close third, Patty and I both enjoyed the lentil dish - well seasoned and not mushy. The butter chicken was tasty, but the breast meat was a smidge dry and I thought the sauce could have been richer. My butter chicken preference is a coarse sauce - the tomatoes and onions in this version had been pureed.

Patty had the same veg and lentil, but with a pile of tandoori chicken, fish and prawns. Tasty, but the presentation was a little overwhelming. It would have been better if the individual items had not been piled up in a tandoori mountain. The distinctiveness of each item was lost.

We enjoyed our meals and while we were pretty darn stuffed, we weren't uncomfortable. I usually have the expectation with Indian food that I'm going to get a large meal. Da Tandoor provided that, without being excessive.

I'd love it if Da Tandoor could spiff themselves a bit. A good clean and some new carpet would do a lot to inspire consumer confidence.

That said, I will dine at Da Tandoor because I really like the style of the food, but I'd prefer if they could give me reason to have more confidence in their food-safe practices