ÔÇť Address: Bayerhamerstra├če 13 (Ecke Lasserstra├če) 5020 Salzburg (Austria) / An Indian restaurant in central Salzburg. ÔÇ×
For practical reasons we frequently travel to Austria where the food is very similar to that of Slovenia -essentially lots of sausage and schnitzel; therefore, when we're in a city or larger town in Austria we tend to look for a change of culinary scene. We decided that we'd make our second night in Salzburg Indian night and had identified a couple of Indian restaurants close to the centre but found another one quite close to our hotel a couple of minutes walk from the Linzer Gasse. We liked the look of the place and resolved to go back that evening.
The Taj Mahal is located in a mainly residential area and there is parking available close by if you are driving. It's an easy walk but tram number 2 from near Schloss Mirabell stops nearby. If you want a drink before dinner there are a couple of decent places nearby, including the excellent Weissbier Brewery. We've found that Austrians tend to eat quite early and that, unless you don't mind eating alone or in a place with only a handful of customers, there's a better atmosphere if you go earlier rather than later. We arrived around 8.00pm and hadn't made a reservation but that proved unimportant because only two other tables were occupied when we arrived.
The interior design of the Taj Mahal makes quite a statement. As well as a nicely painted mural of the Taj Mahal (what else?) visible on the wall of a smaller dining room through an archway, there's a small indoor pagoda (for want of a better description) which I immediately wanted to sit in; this was a circular arrangement of decorative pillars, lined with a curve of seating (with a small gap to allow access) clustered around a circular table - a great arrangement for family groups or groups of friends. Thinking that a) it was probably a touch over the top for the two of us to park ourselves there and b) that it would probably be reserved anyway, we took a more modest table for two. As we later saw, the round table and its pillars makes an effective child corral if adults take either end, hemming in the children, brilliant if your kids are prone to trying to wander during dinner. Decoration wise the place is quite busy but it's colourful and cheerful and certainly has a strong air of friendliness.
The menu has English translations and the staff spoke good English so, although I could easily have ordered in German, I felt confident that that staff had understood my request in English for the meal to be nut free. The menu hardly differs from a typical British "curry house" with all the obvious options such as kormas, vindaloos, dopiazas and so on. Himself was immediately taken by the idea of the "turbo naan" which was described as being very hot and spicy. A diner at the next table ordered one while we were deliberating and Himself meant to ask him whether he'd had one before but he got distracted by something else and forgot. Several weeks later he's still regretting not having followed his instincts and ordering the turbo naan; I doubt that I'll hear the end of it for a long time.
After much deliberation I chose the hardly groundbreaking (well the choice hardly justified the time I'd spent making it) Daal Goasht (lentils and lamb) and Himself plumped for the palak gosht (spinach and lamb). The price of the mains included rice and we added a couple of chappatis (they never arrived but neither were we charged for them and we found we had enough to eat anyway).
We skipped starters and the waiter, although thoroughly pleasant, made no attempt to suggest starters or popadoms. The service was lacking in a couple of other respects. It took a while for our drinks to come considering that the restaurant was not very busy and it was not esay to catch the eye of a waiter when we needed one. If the drinks took ages to arrive, the food was astonishingly speedy.
The presentation was disappointing and as the food had been plated up in the kitchen, there was none of the anticipation you get when the waiter brings the plate warmers and hot plates to the table. While the rice had obviously been put into a small container and turned out onto the plate, the curry had been spooned onto the plate rather messily and on my plate it had splashed over the rice which looked sloppy. The plate rims had also been splashed. The plates had been garnished with a tiny amount of finely chopped coriander. There was so little that it looked like they'd run out and used some scraps from a work surface.
Taste wise both meals were distinctly average. On the plus side both contained plenty of nice chunks of lamb which were meaty and juicy with barely any fat. My dish contained plenty of lentils and I liked the way they still had some texture rather than being completely cooked down into the sauce. The sauce, while well seasoned, was bland and one dimensional, lacking in curry heat and depth of flavour.
Himself found plenty of spinach in his curry sauce but, disappointingly, it appeared to frozen or tinned and we both prefer fresh spinach to be used. Tinned or frozen tends to be blitzed right down and it's nicer to be able to make out the leaves. His sauce was also lacking in heat and flavour, and we agreed that both were more like a gravy than a spicy curry sauce.
In spite of the criticisms I've made I wouldn't write off the Taj Mahal completely. I wanted to like it and there were some positives so if by chance I was to find myself back in Salzburg I might visit this restaurant again but I'd make a point of asking for my meal to be made more spicy. Indian restaurants can vary tremendously in their interpretations of classic dishes and it's hard from one visit to know whether your dish will be spicy or bland. After a first visit you know how the chef does things and you can ask for extra heat if you want it.
The Taj Mahal is a little pricy (bit average in Salzburg terms) with mains coming in around Euro10 including rice. The lunchtime menu at Euro6.50 (for a main course, with soup or salad) looks like good value and maybe a better option of you're looking to satisfy curry cravings.
Himself asked me to mention the restaurant's website, in particular the photograph of the owner. Barely a day has gone by since our return that the Curry Monster has not recreated this image.
Tuesday to Friday, Sunday and public holidays
11.30 - 14.00 and 17.30 - 23.00
17.30 - 23.00
Bayerhamerstra├če 13 (Corner Lasserstra├če)
5020 Salzburg (Austria)