Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DoRag's Review: Chauhan Ale & Masala House 

Decided to try “Indian” food for the first time after hearing several good reviews of the Chauhan Ale & Masala House.  One of the dinner groups that I am a member of arranged reservations so the idea of new Peeps & new food was just what I was needing.  Chauhan is located @ the corner of Grundy & 12th Ave North in the former “Roosters BBQ” “Judge Roy Beans BBQ” location.  The exterior has undergone some changes & the interior has a new “warm & cozy” look & feel.  I expected the sounds & smells that my “Un-refined Redneck Ass” had visioned but to my surprise it was very pleasant & not a scent of incense to be found!  I met my group, none of which I had previously met.  They were congregated in the bar area but none had drinks.  After some introductions I confessed “I ain’t ever eaten any Indian food”.  It was like the whole dang place heard me…everything got really quiet until some Dude said “no worries we’ll help you”!  Then he commenced to rattle off for 10 minutes about the whole Indian food flavor profile none of which made sense to me.  Hell by then all I wanted was a beer!  Finally the rest of the group (13 in all) arrived and we were seated.  The exposed brick walls served as screens for several overhead projectors showing pictures of the food & various other subjects.  Made for a swanky look!  Our waitress brought us water out of a fancy bottle & menus.  Reading the menu was a chore being it was dark & the print was a bit small but I managed to find the drink list.  Only a couple in the group ordered drinks so after several minutes of deep thought, I ordered a beer.  I continued praoozin the menu when something caught my eye in the Appetizer section…”Garam Masala Pork Belly”!!!  Now there’s something I know about!  So when the waitress returned I ordered one up.  Again I felt a bit out of place because only one other at the table ordered an appetizer!  Guess I got some learnin to do about these “Dinner Clubs”.  The small talk continued….the Lady across from me was from the area & seemed to be a historian of sorts.  The Dude next to her had lived in Austin for a bit & both had traveled around the world.  They were in a “deep” conversation & I thought it best for this ole boy to stay in the shallow end!  Finally the beer showed up & I immediately ordered another.  The nice Lady next to me worked for the State of Tennessee & lived in the Donelson/Hermitage area.  It was her first time at the Masala House but was familure with Indian food & was very helpful with the menu.  I played it safe & went with Chicken and Tikka Masala (tomato cream sauce).  By this time beer #2 arrived with the Pork Belly Appetizer.  The small plate contained 5 cubed pieces of pork that had been deep fried & laid on top of some greens & slivers of apple.  Quite “un-impressive” & at $2 a chunk I was expecting a little more!  They did have nice crispiness & flavor but by the time I shared with my new found friends all I got was a bite!  I ordered another beer!  
Garam Masala Pork Belly
More chit-chat until the waitress returns with our entrees.  My Chicken Tikka Masala arrived accompanied by bowl of rice.  The chicken was submerged in a orange colored sauce & it was suggested that I spoon it over the rice which I did.  My first bite to my delight was good!  Tender chicken in a creamy sauce with a hint of heat & spices.  The more I ate, the more I liked it!  The others had more traditional Indian dishes like Chicken Saag, Lamb Korma, & Shrimp Moilee but I was happy with my “safe” choice.  These people eat fast & before I knew it the waitress was back asking for desert orders of which there were none!  I excused myself for a short trip to the “facility” & upon my return most of the Peeps were gone!  Puzzled, I ordered another beer!

It would be a stretch to say I “like Indian food” but I can say I liked what I ate.  I will leave it to you to debate whether Chicken Tikka Masala  is traditional Indian or a UK dish as I learned the British lay claim to this dish & it is very popular in the United Kingdom.  In the end I had a pleasant yet somewhat puzzling experience so I may return to eat another day.  The Chauhan Ale & Masala House is a nice, beautifully decorated, cozy, dimly lit, possibly romantic restaurant which provided great service & above average food. Just remember that is coming from a “Un-refined Redneck” so pay them a visit & decide for yourself!  Waitress...another beer please!!!!


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