India’s Oven is one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal. I’ve been a number of times and the food has never let me down. It really is remarkably consistent, which I think is one of the hallmarks of a great restaurant. The fact that it’s a bring your own wine restaurant is a bonus. So, I’ll give the ending of this story away up front – this is going to be a very positive review. I’ll try not to gush.
On this visit we started with Chana Samosa and Fish Pakora. The Chana Samos is basically a samosa, cut up into pieces and dressed up with chick peas, green peas, onions, yogurt and spices. So it’s like a samosa but better and a nice change when you want a bit more. We were both impressed. The fish pakora is boneless basa fish marinated in yogurt, ginger and garlic and then butter fried. Crispy on the outside and moist and flaky inside. It’s served with a spicy mint chutney which compliments the salty morsels perfectly. I really look forward to this starter.
For the mains we went with Butter Chicken, Goat Curry, Baingan Bharta (baked eggplant sauteed with onions and indian spices, garnished with coriander) and two pieces of Naan Bread (one regular and one garlic).
The butter chicken is the best that I have had. Clean strips of boneless chicken meat in a rich, creamy sauce loaded with flavourful spices. One of the issues that I often have with butter chicken is that it is bland. That’s not an issue at India’s Oven. The goat curry was a basic tomato based curry. Basic, but delicious; with clean tender chunks of meat which, like the chicken, are boneless. I love not having to deal with bones when I am scarfing.
The Baingan Bharta is a special dish. It might not be much to look at but that mush, for lack of a better word, tastes great. The owner takes great pride in this labour intensive dish. Whole eggplants are slowly baked and then peeled by hand (no canned eggplant here) before being sauteed with onions and the rest of the spice melange. I love eggplant and I love spicy food, so this dish really does it for me.
The naan bread is perfect, regardless of whether you have it with or without garlic. Slightly crispy, slightly chewy, always hot and fresh right out of the traditional tandoor oven in the kitchen. I could eat five on my own.
On this visit, like others before it we were thoroughly satisfied with our meal. A word of warning – at India’s Oven spicy means spicy. Not many restaurants can make me say that. So you’ll probably want to start with mild or medium and work your way up (rather than starting with extra spicy, getting dominated and then working your way down as I did).
India’s Oven has been open for just over four years now. I have been going for the last two years. When I started it was almost always empty but since that time I have watched it get busier and busier as word of mouth spreads about this veritable hidden gem. I’ve chatted with the owner several times and it is obvious that he takes great pride in the food that he serves and the establishment that he runs. He even invited me into the kitchen once to show me the tandoor oven in action and to show off how clean it was (how many owners will invite customers to have a look at their kitchen on a whim?). Ask him what’s good and he’ll probably answer “everything”. That’s usually a lame answer but in this case it’s pretty damn accurate.
So, next time you’re in the mood for Indian food, head a few blocks east of the usual bunch of Park Ex restaurants on Jean Talon and check out India’s Oven. Once you do you’ll be telling your friends to do the same.
Price: Starters $3 -$9. Mains $11 – $15 (BYOW).
Rating: 4 - Out of control.
India’s Oven - 454 Rue Jean Talon Ouest – 514.509.8678