Aaron and I tried Indian food for the first time at a little buffet in (or near) Pittsfield, Massachusetts, during our honeymoon. It took us a few years to discover that there are, in fact, Indian restaurants in Toledo, and we’ve been frequenting one in particular for probably a year now.
The Indian Jewel has a daily lunch buffet, featuring both meat and vegetarian dishes which are prominently labeled with their Indian names (and, sometimes, the English translations). The buffet comes with delicious naan (bread), and the service is perfectly acceptable for a buffet. The dinner portions are generous and reasonably priced, and are served in stylish copper serving vessels.
My Aikido dojo tends to frequent the other Indian restaurant in town, the Tandoor. I was honestly underwhelmed with their buffet selection, and only ate there once or twice with the dojo. As for our regular Indian fix, the Indian Jewel had given us no reason to go elsewhere — until recently, that is.
A couple weeks ago, Aaron and I convinced a couple of our friends to go to the Jewel with us. It was their first time eating there, although it may not have been their first experience with Indian food. The service was adequate, the food quite good (except for the spiciness of our friend’s supposedly mild entree), and we had no complaints all through our meal. Near the end, however, the restaurant got unusually busy. We expected to be rushed out the door to vacate our seat; instead, we were ignored for thirty minutes while simply waiting to receive our bill. Finally, after ten minutes of attempting to make eye contact with our server, my husband got up from his seat and approached the other server for our bill. Our server arrived promptly after that with the checks, and we vacated as soon as we could. The restaurant was slammed at the time, so we chalked it up to one bad night.
In the meantime, I had gotten a tip from one of my Indian co-workers that Tandoor was her restaurant of choice. She claimed that she’d had bad experiences with the management of the Jewel in the past, and that she preferred the Tandoor. So, Aaron and I tried it out one weekend. We did have to wait a few minutes to be acknowledged and shown to a booth, but the service was prompt and friendly once we were seated. The menu had slightly more detailed descriptions of the entrees, and the entrees were slightly different than those at the Jewel. We got just as much food, though, and it was just as delicious. We decided that maybe we’d been hasty to judge the Tandoor on the basis of its buffet alone, and promised ourselves that we’d come back more regularly.
This past weekend, we had a hankering for Indian again, so we decided to give the Jewel another shot. We were shown to a table as promptly as usual (which is to say, we had to wait a couple of minutes), our pitcher of water arrived, our order was taken, and we got our salad and poppadoms. We were starving, so we both ate two servings from the giant salad bowl. It wasn’t until we finished off the poppadoms that we realized something was amiss — usually, we only get through half of them before our entrees arrive, and we have to run interference to keep the server from taking the remains away. After stacking up our empty poppadom and salad plates, I looked at my watch.
One hour since we’d been seated.
Shortly after our one-hour mark, the party next to us (which had been seated long before we arrived) finally got their food. We were aghast — we hadn’t realized they hadn’t eaten yet. Our food wasn’t far behind, although the naan was delayed and arrived after the entrees. The food was good, as usual, but we were irritable from having waited so long, and without even a comment or apology from the server.
We under-tipped the waitress — not just because our food was late coming out (that wasn’t her fault), but because she didn’t say anything. Even when she brought out our entrees, she knew that the naan would be a few more minutes, but didn’t mention anything about it; we flagged her down to remind her that we’d ordered it, at which point she told us it would be out soon.
So, it sounds like the Tandoor will be our new Indian restaurant of choice. It’s really a shame, because the Jewel has fantastic food… but slow service is a deal-breaker for me, when it comes to restaurants.
I look forward to exploring a new menu and discovering new and slightly different Indian cuisine.