Budget Crunch: Taj Grill
I have a new favorite Indian restaurant in Western New York. No, wait, let me rephrase that. I have a new favorite restaurant in Western New York. It’s Taj Grill, on Delaware Avenue near Linden in Buffalo, and if you haven’t been there yet, you’re in for a terrific surprise. We’ve got some really good Indian restaurants in our area, but after Taj Grill opened several months ago, I basically stopped going anywhere else. This review is therefore based on approximately twenty trips to Taj. I have eaten at the lunch buffet, the dinner buffet, and ordered a la carte.
I love Indian food, and an Indian buffet is one of the best ways to eat on a budget. Having lived in Bihar back in the early 1990’s, I understand a bit about how Indian buffet, ubiquitous throughout North America, is its own particular permutation of “Indian food.” I won’t get into a discussion of authenticity here, so as not to raise the hackles of foodies across the region, but suffice to say that the food at Taj Grill is spiced to appeal to a palate unaccustomed to eye-bulging heat. So if you like a complex, interesting combination of flavors, but your tongue and your stomach can’t handle spicy foods, you’ll be happy with the offerings. And if you happen to love spicy food, you can always add your own, or order a la carte instead.
So, why is this new kid on the block so good? Well, let’s start with the food. The buffet features many Indian buffet classics: channa masala, saag paneer, tandoori chicken. But these classics are well spiced and always fresh at Taj; there’s no reheated or super-soggy malai kofta at this place.
And then there are the special foods. These are the ones that are not typically on offer at other Indian buffets in the region. For example, Taj has chicken xacuti, a curry from the coastal state of Goa, which includes white poppy seeds, coconut, and large red chiles, and idli, a steamed savory cake made from black lentils and rice, a South Indian favorite. I was also treated to a tava vegetable dish on one visit, which came out on the griddle and was a lovely treat. Tava grill dishes are generally reserved for special occasions at Indian restaurants, but this one came out with little fanfare on a rainy September afternoon.
It’s certainly worth mentioning that the waitstaff at Taj Grill are excellent. If you’ve frequented other Indian restaurants in the area, you may find familiar faces greeting you and waiting on you. The owner himself is likely to come over and ask how your meal is and if there’s anything you’d like to see in the buffet that’s not already there. If you have dietary restrictions but would like to take advantage of the buffet, the servers will kindly explain ingredients in several dishes.
The facility itself is new, and the entire restaurant—including the bathrooms—is always impeccably clean. It’s also a family-friendly restaurant, and can accommodate large parties quite easily. You can always find a spot in the free parking lot outside. My only complaint about this place is that I eat too much when I go there, because it’s all so tasty. But really, they can’t be blamed for my gluttony, can they?
2290 Delaware Ave., Buffalo
Ambience: 5/5; Cleanliness: 5/5; Food Quality: 5/5; Service: 5/5
Rachel Fix Dominguez is a proud Buffalo native who loves eating well on a budget.