Newly-opened, The Hoxton’s House of Tandoor is a mixed – but still fine – addition to Berlin’s Indian-food landscape.
Opened this May in Charlottenburg’s new The Hoxton hotel, this North Indian-style restaurant is basically a clone of London’s Tandoor Chop House.
Their menu includes most of Tandoor Chop House’s menu. The chefs were trained at the Chop House. If you like Tandoor Chop House, make a reservation at House of Tandoor right now. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, kindly keep reading.
Okay, so this is a Punjabi-meets-British Indian restaurant concept in a swanky new hotel. As the name suggests, the selling point is the clay tandoor oven.
Tandoors cook fast and hot. Great. They’re the mothers of naan breads, tikka dishes, tandoori chicken etc. etc. They have three such gas-fired tandoors in their kitchen, viewable through the kitchen show window.
The few and far-between quality of Indian food in this city made me excited to test House of Tandoor out – and checking their menu online left me drooling. Bone Marrow Naan. House Black Dahl. Lamb Rogan Josh. I’d seen the face of God. God smiled.
I was still in orbit when it came to the big question: what to order? So, in the end, we just ordered… everything.
A particularly royal introduction
First thing to arrive was the Coronation Chicken Caesar Salad and… it made you just want to stand and scream God Save the Queen. This is odd coming from me. Normally I wouldn’t touch a salad with a chewed chicken bone. But there I was, eating this perverted Caesar salad and loving it.
Mild, fragrant, crisp, creamy, light, indulgent… a refined mix of taste and texture that just made mouth and stomach agree that something particularly good was going on. A perfect starter. A perfect main.
I cried and saluted. I miss Her so dearly.
Mixed plates with mixed results
Suddenly, plates began flowing out from the kitchen. The waiting staff were zeroing in on us. The plates were for us. So many plates. Too damn many.
Our table soon became clogged. Big plates, little tables. Our wine glasses crying out for space. Note: if you’re going to open a ‘let’s all share’, tapas-style restaurant, make sure the tables are big enough to accommodate.
Sadly, a lot of the dishes didn’t really hit their mark (and certainly didn’t live up to the expectations set by the Coronation Chicken). Still, in fairness to you, dear readers, and because this place isn’t cheap, I’ll do a quick rundown.
The tandoori lamb chops – considering this is a place born out of a chop house, the lamb chops are a miss. The marinade is good but the chops are too measly, cut too thin that they simply char in the flaming-hot tandoor. The beef keema was difficult to navigate… hard to find the right attack vector for (we didn’t know where to start) and seemed like a bit of a confused chili con carne. The onion bhajis were similar to the ones you get in restaurants here. That’s not a compliment. The tandoori masala cauliflower… well, we didn’t finish it. If an unlucky veggie had ordered that as a main, they would have been sorely disappointed… just a rawish cauliflower.
It comes together with the curries
Hail the curries! Uniter of flavour. Saviour of our meal.
Ahh they were great. Good, solid curries. We had the Old Delhi Butter Chicken and the Lamb Rogan Josh.
The Butter Chicken rich, subtle, thick, fattening, regal… with a nice touch of smoke from the tandoor-charred tomato.
The Rogan Josh’s bold flavours ramp up to sweet, salt, spice heaven with that almost gravy-like savoury. Whole spices used to great effect (although it’s a bit of a minefield trying to not bite into a whole black cardamom or another of its funky brothers).
Lovers of British-Indian curries will be satisfied. These curries are sexed up, flagrantly unbalanced, wild, decadent and good. A British-Indian punch of luxury that’s definitely more London than Lucknow or Lahore.
The black dahl gets a worthy note. A great dahl is a thing to behold – and a testament to what can be done with simple ingredients. Tasted in isolation, this black dahl was fine, mild, subtle and alright (but not mind-blowing). Problem is, when tasted in combination with the other rich dishes on our table, its flavour got lost along the way. Still, it kicked that cauliflower’s arse.
Go for the curry, stay for the service
The role of keeping us refreshed went to our waiter, Antonio. Knowledgeable about the food, ingredients and cooking methods, eager to share tips and recommendations, a warm and welcoming demeanour, a consummate professional… Antonio would definitely be a reason for us to return. Bravo!
The whole staff were great in general, and the restaurant is actually a very nice place to be. Considering how quickly the place started to fill up on a Tuesday evening, it seems others tend to agree.
I get the feeling that this kitchen is new, still finding its feet. There is a lot of space for improvement, for refinement, but I’m confident that they’ll soon settle in and elevate their game.
Still, the search for a Berlin curry house continues – one that rivals my memories of growing up in Britain’s Balti-Belt. Alas.
House of Tandoor