The tandoor is sizzling once again at the Clay Oven (5747 Chevrolet Boulevard, Parma; 440-888-6490), Kuldeep Singh's popular northern Indian restaurant that recently relocated from Fairview Park. The new spot celebrated its grand opening on December 18 in spacious quarters in Snowville Plaza, right down the street from the Chevy factory. So far, the move seems to have been a good thing, although the restaurant is still awaiting its liquor license. In addition to being much larger, the new dining room is a bit more posh than the old digs, with plenty of brass, glass, mirrors, and gleaming woodwork. Green faux-marble-topped tables hold cloth napkins, silk flower arrangements, and sparkling stemware, and melodious Indian music plays softly in the background. The already-large menu has been expanded, too, with the addition of four new vegetarian dishes, a fish pakora appetizer, and the tasty masala kulcha: a moist and chewy white-flour bread stuffed with onion, spices, and homemade cheese. (The kulcha is only one of more than a dozen delicious, freshly made breads coming out of the kitchen.) We tried a new seafood dish, Tandoori Shrimp Masala ($19.95), when we visited at the end of last month and consider it one of our new favorite things, with its large, juicy shrimp perfectly baked in the clay oven and then simmered with an aromatic blend of tomato, pepper, onion, and spices.
Got your goat . . . Several goat dishes, including goat biryani, goat curry, and Punjabi goat masala ($15.95), now have a regular spot on the Clay Oven menu. We sampled the latter dish and loved the complex sauce -- a peppery blend of spices and vegetables -- and the flavor of the goat, which was plenty rich but not a bit gamey. Unfortunately, there was a lot of bone and gristle among the chunks of meat, making each mouthful more of an adventure than we had bargained for. For the most part, menu prices have remained steady, with little or no increase on the inexpensive breads, desserts, and appetizers; however, costs for the dinners-for-two have gone up by several dollars. Nonetheless, the moderate prices are still hard to beat for such flavorful and exotic fare -- especially at the bounteous $7.95 lunch buffet, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Sunday.
C'est okay . . . The folks at the veddy veddy upscale Johnny's Bistro (1400 West Sixth Street, 216-774-0055) say all is calm and bright at the expensive French restaurant, despite Chef de Cuisine Darren Eads's abrupt departure right before the holidays. In Eads's absence, former Sous Chef Fabio Mota has stepped up to the plate, continuing to create the type of sophisticated fare that helped win the restaurant kudos from Esquire food critic John Mariani during his most recent travels in Cleveland. While the menu hasn't been appreciably altered since the change in personnel, look for a switch toward somewhat lighter tastes and textures once warm weather returns. GM Dave Flowers promises this doesn't signal a change in philosophy or direction for the gorgeous Warehouse District dining room, which remains about the only place in Cleveland to insist upon jackets for men during the dinner hour.