Sunday, November 04, 2007

Clay Pit

Capitol Indian fare.


Most novelists, even published ones, have a day job. My day jobs have been all over the court, including janitor, math teacher, field hand, computer programmer, brickyard worker, editor, resident Gentile in a Conservative synagogue, IT director, weed-cutter, and a number of influential positions in less notable professions. My current day job is freelance technical writer. Pursuant to said job, I found myself in Addison, TX, at a conference hosted by the Lone Star STC chapter, accompanied by The Woman, because who can resist the lure of Addison?

While partaking of the pleasures of Addison, we found an Indian restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. It was the highlight of the trip, right up there with getting a new jacket from the Men's Wearhouse. Later we stumbled across the original location right here in Austin, TX, (original Clay Pit, I mean, not the original Men's Wearhouse) in the historic Bertram building (no relation to Bertram Wooster) on Guadalupe.

The Clay Pit puts a contemporary spin on Indian cuisine, and that suits me right down to the ground. Keep 'em coming, I say. After three visits, I still haven't had enough. There's plenty more for me to taste before I work through the whole menu, and I intend to do just that. And why not, with entries like the house specialities:

  • Kabuli Chicken: Boneless chicken cooked in our korma sauce from the curry house & infused with a paste made from pureed nuts, raisins & cherries
  • Goat Curry (Halal): Bone-in Goat marinated in yogurt, ginger, garlic, cumin & coriander, cooked in a tangy tomato & onion gravy with a touch of nutmeg
  • Sauteed Baby Eggplant: Eggplant & peas sauteed with crackled mustard seeds & spices
  • Khuroos-E-Tursh: Medallions of chicken breast stuffed with seasoned spinach, mushrooms, onions & cheese, simmered in a rich cashew-almond cream sauce with a hint of sweetness
  • Kothmir Salmon: Fresh salmon rubbed with garlic & ginger, pan-seared in a marinade of mint chutney, paprika, lemon juice & olive oil

I could go on listing menu items and causing you to drool all over your keyboard, but, honestly, what's the point? You already wish you were there right now, soaking up the tikka masala and a Kingfisher. So let me give you a sense of the two locations. The Addison spot is the the great urban sprawl known as DFW, in the D portion of the metroplex on Belt Line Road. It's a nice, contemporary restaurant with a classy jazz bar feel to it.

The Austin spot is in a 150-year-old limestone building downtown. You get the feeling that Stephen F himself, or perhaps David Bowie or Daniel Boone, might stroll in and order a whiskey alongside the functionaries and interns from the capitol who are squeezing every last drop possible from the happy hour, rolling past the 6pm cutoff into one full-priced drink in the hope that the traffic on MoPac will fade, thereby trading a few hours in a bar to cut their commute by 30 minutes.

But you are in the main dining area, free from the worries of homeward commutes and state politics, enjoying the pre-prandial papadum and chutneys as you tackle the challenging task of selecting just one item from the panoply of tempting dishes to enjoy with the bride of your youth. Life is good and Indian food is better.

You really need to get down to the Clay Pit. I'm thinking about jumping in the car and heading down, and it's 2am, for crying out loud. You can see how addicting this place can become.

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