Tadka is a stylish Indian bistro located in the Sawmill/161 area. It is a small chain with four locations, and it is affiliated with another Atlanta export in Columbus, Inchin's Bamboo Garden.
Like most Indian establishments, Tadka offers a bounty of vegetarian menu options. The menu also offers to prepare vegan items on request.
In order to sample the widest variety of food, I tried the lunch buffet. For $10, I got eight vegetarian items and as much plain or buttered naan as a person could eat.
The taste at Tadka is expressed artfully, and the fresh vegetables and sauces are evident in the flavor profile. Service is well-paced and competent (it has been criticized by local media outlets).
The seasonal potato curry on the buffet was divine. It was mildly spicy, and the flavor of corn sweetened the dish up enough to make it sing in perfect harmony.
The daal tadka (a black lentil version of dal makhani) also was well balanced. The lentils provided a firm base for the delicately spicy and creamy curry base, which was flecked with white onion and garlic.
The muttar paneer was a blend of cubed Indian cheese, peas and tomatoes. Paneer is a great protein base for Indian dishes, and it shines brightly in Tadka's muttar paneer.
The sauteed mushrooms were a great savory side. The earthy flavor makes the mushrooms shine.
The fried potatoes were the forgettable part of the buffet. They were baked to the consistency of a new leather shoe, and no amount of mint or tamarind chutney could save the dish from inevitable failure. Both chutneys, while evidently house-made, were unable to save the fried potatoes. The mint chutney tasted fresh, and the tamarind chutney gave great rich, sweet accents to everything they touched.
The buffet is served with rice, chutney, yogurt, a tossed salad, all-you-can-eat naan served at the table and rice pudding. The price is reasonable considering the quality of the dishes. Prices on the dinner menu are more expensive, although not prohibitively so.
Some of the dinner menu items look great. There are a number of traditional Indian dishes in the Northern tradition, and a few Southern dishes as well. The signature dish at Tadka is the biryani.
The closest comparison I can make to another Indian restaurant in Columbus is to compare Tadka to Bayleaf India Bistro in Polaris. The food at both is better than its more inexpensive brethren, and the modern decor at Tadka further elevates the experience. While I give a slight edge to Bayleaf in overall quality, I'll definitely be back to try the dinner menu at Tadka soon. Variety is always a great benefit, and as far as I'm concerned, the more fantastic Indian eateries, the merrier.