We opened dinner
menus at Tiffin to read that the name of this
Indian restaurant actually translates as lunch.
Sure enough, a long serving table with empty
chafing dishes stood against one wall, ready for
the next day's elaborate lunch buffet.
If you're going to travel a distance to eat at
Tiffin in Langley Park, go for the lunch buffet,
a terrific deal that includes soup, appetizers,
dessert and a half-dozen freshly made meat and
vegetarian dishes, all for $5.95 during the week
and $7.95 on weekends. Those "grand opening"
prices have been in place since Tiffin opened in
April near its sister restaurant, Udupi Palace;
buffet prices will go up a dollar soon.
One thing you won't find on the buffet line is
bread. That's because it's brought steaming hot
to your table, fresh from the tandoori oven. Our
waitress served us a basket filled with wedges
of naan, plus a small pan-cake made with fresh
vegetables and herbs.
The oven-to-table breads are part of what makes
Tiffin special, along with doting service, and
the tranquil, open atmosphere of the mint-green
room. A mirror against the back wall reflects
the image of rows of oval lights hanging from
the exposed ceiling, and curves of bentwood
charis set around marble-inlaid tables.
If the room has an upscale feel, so does the
buffet - mainly because the staff manages to
keep everything looking and tasting like it all
just came from the kitches.
On the weekend afternoon we visisted, the buffet
started with a mild and creamy tomato soup and
two appetizers - spicy chickpeas in a thick,
fragrant paste and soft potato fritters. We
spooned out portions of pungent lemon pickle,
mild cucmber and yogurt raita, and green
coriander chutney to eat along with them.
Onto a bed of basmati rice, we ladled tender
curried goat in a dark, fiery sauce; chicken on
the bone cooked in a less-spicy vindaloo sauce
with chuncks of potatoes; and juicy pieces of
tandoori chicken. Vegetable dishes included
seasoned chopped greens and potatoes; smooth
yellow lentil dal; and curried button mushrooms
and green peppers cooked with cinnamon and
Our dinner at Tiffin wasn't quite as smooth as
our experiece at lunch. Bitter baby eggplant
served in a thick, bland curry sauce was
disappointing, and we found that the tandoori
chicken at lunch was more flavorflu than what
was on the a la carte appetizer platter at
dinner. That dish also included fried,
potato-filled samosas, vegetables fritters (pakoras)
and herb-flecked sausages that were all fairly
We preferred creamy mulligatawny lentil soup and
chunks of fried dfish splashed with vinegar hot
sauce as starters.
Among our entrees, we had to work a little to
get at the moist flesh of a small, bony
rock-fish, which was done to a crispy brown in
the tandoori oven. But big chunks of lamb and
potatoes done vindaloo-styple required nothing
more than an appreciation of sauces with complex
heat. We sopped up the vindaloo with pieces of
golden fried poori and moist onion kulcha, two
more of Tiffin's outstanding breads.
For dessert, you might want to try squres of
pressed cheese in pistachio cream or a cone of
saffron ice cream topped with rice noodles. But
gulab jamun, fried cheese balls soaked in honey,
is the traditional crowd pleaser. That's why
it's often featured on the buffet.