I have been really excited since I heard that the previous owners of the Clay Pit were opening a location, called Tarka in South Austin. The really great thing about Tarka is that they have all the vegan items denoted with a little V and you can easily tell what you want to eat. The first time I went a girl at the counter told me that the rice wasn’t vegan but then I spoke later with the owner he assured me that they use oil instead of butter. He was really nice and very gracious through the whole exchange and I really appreciated that. In fact, it is that conversation that sent me to try it a second time. The vegan items are Vegetable Samosas, Vegetable Pakoras, Coconut Curry, Minced Vegetable Kabob, Vegetable Biryanis, Channa Masala, Tarka Aloo, & they also have perfect roti and a mango lemonade that was completely fabulous.
The samosas are the highlight. They kind of remind me of the samosas from the Cosmic Cafe that I miss with all my heart. Of all the places in town to close why did it have to be the Cosmic Cafe! The samosas are plump and fried just perfectly so that they don’t feel at all oily, just tender and crispy and wonderful. The chutney that comes with them is also divine.
I was so excited that they had vegan roti and it did not disappoint, it was perfect and there was plenty to share. Sadly, both of the entrees that I had haven’t been as fantastic. I first had an eggplant dish that isn’t on the menu anymore and then the second time had the channa masala. It was good enough but didn’t seem particularly exciting and I couldn’t help but think it didn’t justify 7.25 for the very small dish. It is chickpeas, and spices, and rice. And a small portion. Both times that I went I know that if I hadn’t also gotten the samosas I would have still been hungry when I left and that never happens to me at restaurants. I go to the Clay Pit quite often and for about the same price you get 3 times as much food. I usually have leftovers even. I think I would recommend that they put several of the dishes together with roti and a samosa and have a vegan plate for 7 to 9 dollars. As it is, the two samosas were $3.50 and the roti was a couple of dollars more so I ended up spending about 20 dollars. In actual food costs this dish was probably worth about 25 cents and to me it would have been worth it had I paid like 3 or 4 dollars or had the sides included.
In the end, the price point just does not match its location. I really hope that after they are open for a few more weeks they work out the kinks and maybe start a delivery service because I love samosas like I love this life but otherwise I don’t think I can afford to come back to Tarka any time soon.