Tanzore. It must be a sobriquet of sorts for Thanjavur, the art and architecture infested city in the south of India, my mind deduces. South Indian food has always taken a back seat to that of the north outside of India, other than the occasional Woodlands one comes across scattered around the world, so I suppose I was not surprised to find that Tanzore in Beverly Hills contradicts the origins of its name, and showcases dishes based on the culinary pickings wafting our way from the north.
Enter through the clubby blue lounge and bar, and be welcomed by Indian models gyrating towards you on Mumbai or Delhi catwalks as the gigantic plasma broadcasts all things evocative of Indian television, and ultimately, Bollywood.
Make a left into the pink suffused dining area. I recommend you join the crimson and gold cushion on the booth-like black sofas in the separated dining area on the left side of the restaurant so you can peek out of the windows and onto the shrubbery and not be bothered with the chatter in the main dining area.
The attractive pink glow accentuates the wood furniture, and the faint sounds of water in the little pond closer to the entrance provide a pleasant background to your imminent chewing. As you make your way through your Californian ingredient laced Indian meal, take in the floral wallpaper that is fortunately able to doff its cap at tacky but avoid shaking hands.
On to the food itself.
Start by snacking on the papads of poppadums that arrive immediately after you do, and dip into the green chutney, vegetable pickle, and something that seems to be tamarind chutney that accompanies them. The waitress hesitantly informs us that the papads are made on the premises.
We order some crab tikki to start. They arrive in relatively minuscule proportions and I can’t tell if the crab is fresh or not, which means it is probably not. Nevertheless, a tasty little fried affair, with a nice mild dipping sauce to go with.
Now, as anyone who has ever frequently forayed into the world of mango lassis can tell you, they can vary tremendously from kitchen to kitchen. I am reckless, and order it wherever I go. The lassi here doesn’t seem to be made of fresh mangoes. Gladly, it avoids reeking of that particular smell of canned mango pulp which some restaurants tragically employ as a matter of course. All in all, reasonably palatable.
For our entrées, a lamb biryani, bhindi (okra) masala, and a couple of naans.
The lamb biryani is good. The meat is succulent, and the surrounding spicy rice has a lovely dash of mint to it: not simply as a garnish, but as an important part of the cooking process itself. It comes with a tureen of raita, which makes the spice go down well.
The bhindi is a solid choice. Perfectly spiced, not too oily, not too slimy (read, well cooked), and delicious scooped up with pieces of the naan.
The naan isn’t memorable if you’re going to be picky about it, but the bhindi and biryani are tasty enough to, well, keep it that way and simply do its basic job of providing you bread for your supper.
The dessert options look tantalizing and very appropriate to this ever so slightly fusion-Indian setting: a cardamom chocolate cake, some cinnamon poached pears, a mango mousse bombe, an Indian apple gallete, a gulab jamun-rasmalai-kulfi trio, etcetera, etcetera. We shake our heads for the sake of our healths this time, and tear ourselves away from this jolly selection. I decide that I will, however, have a masala chai as my nightcap.
Woe is me. I shouldn’t have. Frankly, this particular brew seems to have seen better days and has been reheated atop the stove for yours truly.
Tanzore caters for private parties and offers lunch specials. Parking is available a few steps up N. La Cienega in the parking lot for $4.50. The sign says they will validate, but they don’t at dinnertime.
Good marks for decor and pleasant though slightly lacklustre service, but when it comes to the little things that do end up mattering... some work to be done, I suspect. I’d still go back to bask in the pink glow and have a go at the minty biryani. The bar seemed fun for an hour to kill too.
50 North La Cienega Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-2227
Telephone: 310 652 3894
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30-2:30 p.m., 5:30 – 10:30 p.m.; Friday 11:30-2:30 p.m.; Saturday 5:30 – 11 p.m.; Sunday 11:30-3 p.m.
RATING: 3.0 OUT OF 5 SAMOSAS; 4.5 FOR DECOR