We’re always on the hunt for good, down-to-earth Indian cuisine. When it’s done right, it’s spectacular. So when my brother, who’s a huge Indian food fanatic, recommended Clay Oven, we headed there on a quiet weekday evening. Located in the Inter Pacific Business Park (same strip mall as the awesome Inti Restaurant and with the same nondescript exterior – perhaps it’s a condition of doing business there?), the interior is sparsely decorated. It doesn’t look like anything special, but it was clean and just a few tables were occupied.
After being seated, we were promptly presented with a plate of complimentary Papadums, served with what I guessed to be something similar to a mango chutney. Whatever it really was didn’t matter to me because it tasted pretty darn good. The papadums themselves were super light, crispy, and surprisingly savoury, which is probably why they went so well with the fruity chutney. Yum!
To start, we ordered the Fish Pakoras. Clay Oven’s version is made with Basa fillets and comes with two dipping sauces, which I will refer to as Red and Green. I wish I had asked what the proper names of these sauces are (or what’s contained in them) because they were both equally delicious. The green had a hint of mint and was very earthy, while the red sauce was on the sweeter side. As for the fish, it was perfectly seasoned – savoury, with a nice spicy kick that lingered on the palate, and incredibly moist, tender fish that flaked delicately when bitten into. Om nom nom nom. I’m drooling just thinking about it. The portion size was also great – plenty of meaty pieces for two hungry diners to feast on.
For our mains, we went with the Butter Chicken and Beef Vindaloo (very hot, as per Mark’s instructions, because his heat tolerance is ridiculous), rounded out by an order of plain saffron rice. I tend to think that how well a restaurant does butter chicken speaks volumes about the rest of their menu, so of course we had to order this item. And the verdict? Probably one of the best butter chickens I’ve ever had. Yes! It was that good! It was just the right amount of buttery flavour, with tender chunks of chicken and incredibly rich in flavour. The best way I can describe it is that it’s a far cry from the usual food court butter chicken that can be found virtually anywhere these days. It tasted truly home made, like someone took the time and care to craft this deliciousness; so lovingly prepared. As for the vindaloo, it was way too hot for my
wimpy delicate palate, but just the right amount of spice for Mark (henceforth known as Iron Tongue. Seriously).
To round out the meal, we also got an order of Plain Naan and what I believe to be Garlic Naan. Since this was several months ago, I can’t accurately recall, but I do remember that they were both delicious. I loooooved the texture of both of them – light, yet with a nice chew, and those charred and crispy bits were so good.
The verdict on Clay Oven? SUCCESS! Great service, generous portions (we had a ton of leftovers to keep our bellies happy for the couple days after our visit), simple and straightforward dishes done so well, and the price point isn’t too bad either. It’ll be our go-to whenever a craving for Indian food hits us.
3132 26 Street NE
Calgary, AB T1Y6Z1
Phone: (403) 250-2161