Restaurant Review: Indian Oven

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

With soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and a stunning bar housed under a curved expanse of bright yellow corrugated metal, it's too easy to call Indian Oven the most striking Indian restaurant in Central Ohio. I'd go as far as to call it one of the area's most striking restaurants, period.

The Indian Oven space is loftlike, with exposed ceiling beams painted in a vibrant red. But linen-topped tables and a hushed lunchtime crowd add up to a vibe that's elegant and refined.

This place is ideal for newbies to the world of Indian cuisine. A popular lunch buffet is a good intro course, offering crowd-pleasing favorites like tandoori chicken and potatoey Alu Matar in all-you-can-eat portions.

Once you've graduated to curry-veteran status, you'll probably prefer ordering one of the more adventurous entrees. A nice touch: You can tailor your spice level to whatever you're comfortable with-mild, medium or hot. Medium's perfect for my non-native but ethnic-food-loving self.

And the staff here is incredibly attentive and helpful, explaining unfamiliar menu terms, offering recommendations for daring diners and always checking in to make sure everyone's pleased with their picks.

What to drink

To balance the heat from some of the spicier dishes, I adore the cooling powers of Sweet Lassi ($2.75). A cross between a smoothie and a melted milkshake, this tart yogurt drink is a traditional lunchtime quaff in India, and a quite tasty one.

Upgrade to the Mango Lassi ($4.75) for an even sweeter treat.

Something Sweet

Everything on the Oven's dessert menu is homemade, and it's all delightful. But the Kulfi ($4), a bowl of homemade ice cream studded with almonds, pistachios and cardamom, is amazing.

This ice cream is wonderfully, almost indescribably, dense. It's infused with the cinnamony essence of cardamom, but any spiciness is tempered by the farm-fresh sweet cream base. I only wish they sold this stuff by the pint.

Indian Oven

427 E. Main St., Downtown