Monday, December 8, 2008

The Clay Pit

Hey folks. Before we get started, just wanted to give a quick shoutout to Addie at Relish Austin!

Ah the Clay Pit. This was actually our second visit to the place, and we had high hopes it would go better than the first. I'll spare you all the details but I learned an important life lesson that night: never ever eat a bunch of Indian food and then go watch 'Cloverfield' from the front row at the Alamo Draft House.

That said, the food was so delicious the first time (going down, anyways) that we were happy to make a return trip, this time with friends.

First off, the Clay Pit follows a very delightful trend we've discovered in Austin: top-of-the-line food in a really nice atmosphere at prices that are actually affordable. (The more time I spend in Austin, the more I realize that there is a large population in Houston that enjoys spending money just to spend it.)

I would definitely recommend reservations though. Weekends especially can get pretty harried, and had we not made them ahead of time, it looked like our party of 5 would have been in for an extensive wait.

We started off our dinner with a few appetizers. The curried mussels are a must-have. And our weakness for fried calamari pretty much mandated us to order the coriander calimari, which wasn't anything particularly special (some Chinese-style spiciness) but the portion was pretty hefty and good for even a larger party.

The curry dishes, not surprisingly, are the house specialty, but you won't find your standard stoplight fare here (green, yellow, or red, har har). The Tikka Masala is always a favorite, but the Mirch Masala adds a spicy jalapeno kick to the classic dish. But if you feel like indulging yourself, definitely go for the self-described "sinfully rich" Korma curry, which mixes cashew, almond, pistachio, and coconut into a sweet creamy curry sauce.

For my dish, I solicited the help of our waitress who immediately suggested the Lamb Roganjosh without hesitation, and after tasting the dish I could definitely see why. The lamb was the most tender I had ever tasted and the curry sauce was tasty and rich.

One thing to definitely be aware of: I've referenced earlier my love of spicy food and my propensity for biting off more than I can chew, so to speak. Be aware that when you order any of your dishes "hot" instead of "mild," THEY DO NOT MESS AROUND AT THE CLAY PIT. If you can handle the Blazin' wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, you should have no problem with the hot dishes at the Clay Pit. Otherwise be prepared to take a little bit more time to finish. The Clay Pit boasts an additional level of hot, called Desi Hot (which roughly translates to "hot even for a real Indian person"), and I can only begin to imagine what that would do to non-Desi tastebuds.

The bartenders at the Clay Pit are a talented creative bunch. Their bloody marys are definitely recommended. But their mixed drinks do run on the small size, so you may rack up quite the bill, especially if you're downing them one after the other trying to put out the fire in your mouth. If staying power is your goal, order the Taj Mahal beer, which gives you a Maharaj-sized glass of beer for less than most of the mixed drinks.

The Clay Pit
1601 Guadalupe

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