We accidentally tried a new restaurant tonight, and it was a pleasant experience. OK, perhaps "accidentally" isn't precisely correct. We decided to eat Thai food and when we got to the restaurant we found it was closed (for a "family emergency"). So we decided to drive a few miles down the road to try out the new Indian restaurant, Shahi Tandoor, located in the sumptuous (*ahem*) Grand Texan Hotel, which used to be called something else, something less grandiose but just as forgettable.
The restaurant is essentially a hotel eatery, and it has the distinction of sharing its space with a pizzeria and the hotel bar. But we had read a couple of reviews and were prepared for the unfortunate ambiance. Very few dining places in Midland have really appealing atmosphere - although there is something invigorating about the white noise produced by sizzling fajita serving dishes - so that's not a test of fellowship for us.
It's all about the food, and in this case, the food was really good. However, I have no idea what we ate, other than in a generic "it was fish-, lamb-, shrimp-, and chicken-ish" (I'm always looking for an excuse to use "fish-ish" in a sentence). So, as a public service, here's a snapshot of the dish we shared. Feel free to google this stuff if you're really curious.
It may looks like a lot of food, and in fact it probably was enough to feed a lower-caste Indian family for a week, but for us big-eatin' Ahmuricans, it was about right for two people. We did load up a medium sized carry-out box, so we weren't total pigs.
This was a good combo for a first visit, and for someone who doesn't know much about Indian cuisine; our last authentic Indian meal was only about 30 years ago, in Dallas...but we still have found memories of it. And, yes, it's pricey, at least for Midland, but it IS a hotel restaurant, and it DID (or WILL) feed two people for one and another fraction of a meal. There are, of course, lower-priced menu items for those without cruise ship appetites.
Our favorites were the lamb and shrimp dishes, the naan bread, and the curry rice (rice pullao) with the lentil sauce (dal makhani). The meal was accompanied by a yogurt based dipping sauce which I don't think is shown on the menu, and it was an excellent counterpoint to the spiciness of the other dishes. We didn't particularly care for the fish, however; fortunately, it was the smallest portion on the platter.
The restaurant was quite busy, and with only two servers, meals were slow in coming out. We arrived before the rush so that wasn't an issue for us. But what struck us is that at least half the patrons were Indian families. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but Midland's Indian population strikes me as being, overall, affluent and well-educated, and I suspect that if they like a restaurant well enough to patronize it, it's probably authentic and high quality. I don't know about the former, but the latter is certainly true. We'll go back.