Galway has always been known for its diversity — a town of exotic sailors and Connemara tribes, this medieval city has been a melting pot for as long as it has existed. We have well established Chinese and Thai restaurants, and more recently some terrific Japanese ones. For fans of Indian food, however, Eastern Tandoori has being offering consistently delicious examples of this varied cuisine to Galway diners for some time now.
Indian food is the 'Marmite' of global cuisines — it evokes a love or hate attitude that other ethnic traditions just do not get. There is often an excess of heat over flavour that has alienated many a diner. Not so at Eastern Tandoori.
This is Indian food cooked as it should be. Nearly every dish is labour-intensive with very few that can just be 'thrown together'. Vegetables, herbs, and different combinations of spices create the base of each of the sauces, all made from scratch on the premises which means they are largely gluten-free as well as uniquely flavoured. I tootled along one weekday evening with a curry loving friend. The decor is as you would expect with comfortable dark furniture, gilded idols keeping an eye on the room, and a Bollywood sound track.
We furnished ourselves with a glass of wine and sat in a nice, sunny, window seat. As we perused the menu, the complimentary addictive poppadoms and house chutneys arrived. Coupled with dips of sweet mango chutney and yoghurt raita, they always make for a very tasty overture. We made a start with an onion bhaji and excellent pan grilled prawns. Don't worry if you do not know your saag aloo from your jalfrezi — help is at hand in the form of knowledgeable, attentive, and good-natured staff happy to make suggestions and explaining the dining options with enthusiasm.
The mains are mainly lamb, chicken, or prawn based dishes, and a plentiful selection of vegetarian choices, as well as rice, breads, and other sides. The flavours were big, bright, and loud, covered in a very welcome carpet of coriander. We had a couple of side dishes, basmati rice flavoured with saffron, and a garlic and coriander naan bread, both delicious, hot, and freshly made. There is a list of good quality bought in desserts that are typical of Indian restaurants in general so we choose a pistachio kulfi and a nougat ice-cream to finish.
This is a place that makes Indian food in the traditional way, its sauces, pastes, and masalas made from scratch and with fresh ingredients, simply because the end result tastes much better, even if you have to wait a couple of minutes longer for your meal. It has also does a very popular take-away, and a family style Sunday lunch. Starters are around the €6 to €8 mark and mains start at under €13 and go all the way up to almost €19 for an elaborate dish of chicken, lamb, and prawns grilled over charcoal.
All in all, Eastern Tandoori offers an authentic food experience and great service that is kept consistently at a high level, obvious from the number of regulars there are there. It is a place that must rely largely on repeat trade in the winter months, tucked away where it is on Spanish Parade. Even with that short stroll from the main drag, you would have to go a long way further to find a better Indian meal in Galway.
Eastern Tandoori, 2 - 3 Spanish Parade, Galway, phone (091 ) 564 819.