In the heart of the Old Market on Howard Street, the Indian Oven has been serving its family recipes for over 25 years. Second-generation owner Binoy Fernandez is now running the show and just completed an extensive remodel in late 2012. The new look is spectacular! The restaurant now features a beautiful, new bar that occupies a large portion of the first floor and has a much more modern feel, yet still works well with the Old Market styling cues.
Along with the new bar, the restaurant now features an expanded menu of classic and craft cocktails. Craft cocktails are a booming trend, and the Indian Oven has an exhaustive list of about 25 of these creations. On a recent visit, I sampled one called The South Side ($7). This gin-based cocktail with soda, bitters, and a hint of mint was extremely refreshing on a hot summer day. My dining partner had the Tamarind Margarita ($8), made with Reposado Tequila, Orange Curaçao, fresh lime, and a tamarind infusion. This one was also outstanding. I should also mention that the new bar boasts a well-stocked beer selection and wine list.
The food at the Indian Oven has always been great, and I am glad to report that is still the case. The flavors of the traditional Indian cuisine are something that everyone should make a point of experiencing on a regular basis.
My dining partner and I started the evening with a plate of Masala Sliders ($8) and some Barta Ganouj ($8). The Masala Sliders are three tasty, little burgers that are filled with Indian seasoning, topped with caramelized onions, and served on a fresh roll spread with cilantro pesto. The Barta Ganouj is a Fernandez family recipe of spiced eggplant and tomato dip, served fresh with pita wedges. I will never tire of this dish.
For entrées, I had the Rogan Gosht ($15), which is a traditional north Indian lamb curry. The lamb literally melted in my mouth, and the spices were perfect. My partner tried the Chicken Tikke ($13.50). Chicken Tikke is chunks of chicken breast meat marinated in a lemon, yogurt, ginger, and garlic marinade and then skewered and grilled. I have always felt the IO version of this dish was the best I have ever had. The portions are appropriate, and all the entrées are served with their traditional Indian rice. For dessert, we shared the Kulfi ($4), which is an Indian ice cream. Their version is flavored with pistachio and mango.
The service at the Indian Oven is casual, warm, and friendly. Our server seemed to know the menu well and made some great cocktail recommendations. That, combined with new, great looks, craft cocktails, and consistently good food, make checking out the Indian Oven a no-brainer. If you have never been there before or have not been for a while, you need to make a point to check it out. Personally, I am already looking forward to my next IO meal.
1010 Howard St.
RATING (5 Stars Possible)
Food & Beverage: ***1/2