When I expressed my disappointment with Stamford's Olé Molé to my friend at the Vitamin Shoppe across the street, he suggested I try tawa, just a couple of miles down High Ridge Road. (Driving directions were complicated by the restaurant's location: in a row of shops on a one-way segment of a tangled intersection at which Route 137 changes street names from High Ridge Road to Cold Spring Road, and meets Long Ridge Road (Route 104), Summer and Bedford Streets—an area known as Bulls Head. Got it?)
Most Indian buffets I've sampled over the past several years have failed to impress. Dishes prepared with stale ingredients would be typically allowed to desiccate in their warming trays to the point at which they were suitable for astronaut consumption.
Tawa, however, represents a welcome departure from the foregoing scenario. Its recipe for a successful buffet includes fresh ingredients and a limited, but well-chosen, selection of hot dishes. The turnover at lunchtime ensures frequent replenishment of the steam trays so that each dish tastes as though it had been prepared to order.
The spices are uniquely bright in aroma and flavor, suggesting they may be ground on the premises. This alone makes every dish exceptionally tasty. Nevertheless, there was one standout among all the offerings: the Kalmi Kabab (marinated chicken wings and drumsticks). Unlike most chicken cooked in a tandoor (clay oven), this one was was succulent, tender, and delicious.
Incidentally, the name tawa (tah·vah, rhymes with ça va) refers to a pan or griddle used in the preparation of breads, or roti. A few of the eponymous cooking implements adorn tawa's dining room walls.
Though the price of the executive lunch buffet was increased from $9.95 to $11 this year, it still represents a good value. In addition, every sixth lunch is free with a lunch club card.
19 High Ridge Road
Stamford, CT 06905 (map)
Executive Lunch Buffet: Mon-Fri, 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.; Sat & Sun, 12:00 Noon to 3:00 P.M.
By bus: 31, 32
Condiments and Salad