Tandoori Vibes

A new restaurant has opened in the old Woolies complex and daaaaaaang girl, it's pretty fine.

Tandoori Vibes definitely has the classy thing going on - the hanging lights of glory are just beautiful and even though the decoration is sparse, the place definitely has potential. (Imagine a full wall mural of a epic Festival of Holi... Mmm!)

The place is also freaking freezing, so bring a jacket or two.

I took it as a good sign and my first thought was that maybe they had the air con that cold to counteract the sweat from the super hot curries.

*heavy breathing*

There's a large window in the back to see into the kitchen where the magic happens.

This, my friends, is a tandoor. 

It doesn't look like much, but hidden under the counter is a cylindrical drum that works like a wood/coal fire oven. Dough is literally pasted on the sides of the drum and the hot-air blister cooks the dough into the naans that we all love.

The tandoor is also used to cook meats on super long skewers. Victims are charred on the surface and slightly smoky in flavour. Our neighbouring patron had a huge hot plate of tandoor meats which made me super jealous.

Fresh from the Kitchen

Our table reservation was for 7pm, but we were were dining for 7 adults so naturally we all got there at 7:15. There was a little bit of a kerffule about what we should order and coupled with the fact there was only two waiters serving that night brought us to the painful reality that our order only got taken at 8pm.

Lucky for us the food didn't take too long.

From bottom left to right, clockwise:

  • Mutter Mushroom ($21.50)
  • Murg Makhani a.k.a. Butter Chicken ($27.50)
  • Lamb Rogan Josh ($26.50)
  • Palak Paneer ($21.50)
  • Bread Basket of Garlic-cheese Naan, Garlic Naan and Laccha Paratha ($15.50)

Ideally for 7 adults you can share 5 curries with rice and naans by the mountain piles. As you can see above, the prices here are pretty steep.

I know it's a fine dining restaurant, but $27.50 for a small serve of Murg Makhani that was barely enough for one hungry Australian just blew my mind.

The curries' flavours were good, but I feel like the Lamb Rogan Josh could have had a spicier kick. Both meat curries we ordered could have been a little bit more generous with the meat, the ratio of meat to curry was a little one sided. The Mutter Mushroom had an abundance of peas and I was losing the game of hide and seek to the mushrooms. I don't know what the Laccha Paratha was like - there simply wasn't enough to go around. :(

Despite the small serves and prices there were some items that I truly enjoyed:

Palak Paneer - the cottage cheese was fresh and didn't squeak in my mouth (seriously, it's really weird when it does). The sauce of puréed spinach was devilishly thick and seasoned very well... I think it might have been the best Palak Paneer I've had in Darwin.

I could say the exact same thing for the Naans! Cooking in a tandoor really makes the difference and these guys have the right authentic recipe for the fluffy bread. I would gladly part with $7 for a Garlic Naan. They were decent sized and we had an extra two to snuggle with our Bread Basket. Non Vegetarian Thali with Signature Handi Goat ($36)

Thali is a tasting plate made up of smaller serves of carefully balanced flavour profiles to have with carbohydrates. The Handi Goat was quite delicate in flavour, which is something I never thought I would say about goat.

The salad on the side was more like a garnishing and I would have much preferred another vegetarian curry or dahl. You can't really see it in the picture but riiiiiiight at the back was Firni, a cardamom rice pudding. It was sweet and almost paste-like, I did appreciate the size given because I can't imagine eating a tub of it.

$200+ (!!!) later we left the restaurant feeling a little disappointed and still peckish... we hopped over to Cool Spot for desserts and coffee afterwards. I don't think I would return with a large group of people again, but I think this has the potential to be a nice date night place. All the other patrons seemed to be happy and the wait staff are very nice.

There is a great vegetarian selection and a interesting lunch menu available 12pm - 3pm that I am tempted to try next.

Perhaps on the next pay day!

Contact details
T5, 56 Smith Street
Darwin City NT 0800
04 5194 4040