The worst thing about coming home from a vacation is realizing that you have no food in the fridge. After our fantastic trip to Milwaukee and Madison, where we got to consume butter burgers, frozen custard, cheese curds, and plenty of beer, my husband and I came home to our stark pantry. We always try so hard not to over-shop before we leave for a few days, so nothing spoils, and then we wonder why there isn’t anything to eat when we return. Until one of us can get to the grocery store, there is really only one option: going out to eat. That was the situation that we faced on Friday, when we decided to go to our neighborhood Indian restaurant, The Clay Pit.
I love just walking up to The Clay Pit - as soon as you round the corner, you are hit with the smells of chicken roasting in a tandoori oven mingled with a hint of curry. My husband and I were seated next to a window, where we could enjoy the fading light of dusk.
Our waiter proved how knowledgable he was right away. My husband ordered a Golden Eagle, a native Indian beer, and the waiter suggested that he try a Flying Horse (another native) instead. I suggested a taste-off, and the Flying Horse won, hands down. I ordered a Kenwood white wine - it was very spicy, and stood up well to my dinner.
With our drinks, we were served complimentary garlic naan bread with two dipping sauces. I think this is fantastic - most Indian restaurants charge a few dollars for naan (and indeed you can order more, or another variety, for a price). The sauces are very interesting. One is a sweet, tangy red sauce. The other is a green, spicy cilantro sauce. I prefer to double dip, as the combination of the two, along with the garlic, is a delight to the senses.
Our waiter proved his helpfulness a second time as he helped my husband remember his favorite dish. All he had to say was “tender cubes of chicken in some kind of red sauce” (descriptive, no?) and the waiter instantly pointed to the chicken tikki masala. I ordered the vegetable curry, and we shared saag paneer and basmati rice.
By the time we had polished off our naan, our dinner was ready. Our waiter served us a little from each family-style dish, and then left us to polish it off. My husbands chicken was tender, and the tikki masala sauce was very flavorful with just enough heat. My veggie curry was fantastic: fresh chunks of potato, cauliflower, and sweet carrot - a definite step-up from some restaurants that serve frozen vegetables. The curry sauce itself was a perfect blend of spices and heat. While everything we had was very good, the star of the night was definitely the saag paneer. The spinach tasted as if it had just been pureed, and the cubes of homemade farmer’s cheese was a delightfully creamy surprise. We basically licked the bowl clean.
By the time we were done, the sun had set and we were talking by candlelight. The ambiance at The Clay Pit made us feel like we were on a date, and along with the wonderful food and excellent service, inspired wonderful conversation.
The Clay Pit is located in the Brentwood Village at Barrington and Sunset: 145 S Barrington Ave,Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-4700