I could hardly contain my excitement for getting to try a new [North] Indian restaurant for lunch. In case you’re wondering what it feels like to be a grownup, this is it. It’s not terribly thrilling. An hour before my tryst, I was already plotting my visit, complete with a dish of Mattar Paneer and garlic naan on the side. Unlike most genres of restaurants, I get Mattar Paneer at every Indian restaurant I frequent*. This is unique in the way that I am gaining a really great understanding of which restaurant makes the best version. (If you’re curious, as it stands now, Ambar India serves my favorite Mattar Paneer dish, while Dusmesh and Shaan Indian Cuisine closely follow. I’ve enjoyed all I’ve tried in the area.) I admit I have some work to do on my Cincinnati Tour de Indian Food, and this is one step towards remedying that. So Mattar Paneer, it is.
Location: Tandoor is located in what is called Market Place off of Montgomery Road in Montgomery. Its location, at first read (on Yelp, of course), seems intimidating and a little difficult to find, but any GPS should be able to get you there without hiccup. If it helps at all, Market Place Lane is found at a traffic light just behind a Fifth Third building and across the street from Montgomery Square (a strip center boasting a pretty large Kroger as well as Original Pancake House). There is sufficient parking at least for lunch; for dinner it may be a different story.
Food: Without hesitation, I got the Mattar Paneer and garlic naan. My server, who was very friendly, attentive, and timely, did not slack on refills** and even offered me a lunch card—not many places even do this anymore; let alone offer. By doing so, she has ensured that I will be back in the future. She also gave me my naan for free (I think she felt bad that I bought a lunch dish at a dinner price.) Compared to the other places, I’ll say that Tandoor ranks with Shaan (for those who’ve forgotten: Ambar is still my favorite with Dusmesh and Shaan following in that order). The Mattar Paneer was very good, but not my favorite by any means.
Atmosphere: I was surprised with the layout and overall feel of the place. It was homey and not entirely corny like most Indian places, so I’d compare it to Dusmesh in that regard. It was a little corny, though, I won’t lie (see: stereotypical wall hangings and border wallpaper). I will say that the service on my phone was abysmal. I wouldn’t otherwise care, but eating alone I was hoping to knock out a couple of lengthy videos. I couldn’t during today’s lunch. And I assume I won’t be able to in the future. (This is important, seeing as I frequently lunch alone.)
The all-around experience I had coupled with the customer service were really impressive. In that aspect, this is probably the best of the Indian places I’ve been. The taste—however upper echelon quality—wasn’t the best.
Likes: I didn’t have to worry about refills, the spice level (“medium”) was perfect, service was pretty quick for a non-buffet lunch, the taste of the Mattar Paneer was above average (she even said I can get more paneer and less peas next time—I’ve always gotten the side-eye every time I ask for less peas), and the garlic naan was fantastic stuff (my opinion: Dusmesh has the best, and I’d rank it with that). Gripes: My phone service was just awful and, comparatively, it wasn’t the best Indian food I’ve had. It was really good, though.
Overall Grade: B [out of a possible A+]
*For example: in the case of, say, Chinese restaurants, the type of dish I opt for varies. I don’t have a specific go to.
**I often have bad experiences with drink refills at Thai and Indian places. I’m not sure if that’s because they tend to serve spicier food and I drink more, or if it is some kind of cultural difference. Either way, I was impressed with this place in that regard.