The work day over, you have that feeling again. Not panic, not despair, but something akin to each, ratcheted up by a growing emptiness in your belly. You don't have a dinner plan. In the car, you mull over the options. You could go out. You could thaw something. There's always pizza. And then the traffic inches up Fourth Street past something called Tanglin's.
It's a new restaurant, open a month, serving takeout of what can only be described as Indian fusion. Funny thing, Indian food is perfect takeout fare (well, the car upholstery gives off the aroma of curry for a disconcerting number of days), reheating with no flavor or textural loss, scooped onto plates at home and accessorized with mango chutney, onion pickle and yogurt raita. Wait, you say, the kids don't like curry. Craftily, Tanglin's offers "bombaly," something I'm doubtful would be recognized widely in Mumbai. It's pizza on a chewy pita, topped with things like tandoori chicken ($7) or veggies and tofu ($6), either with a traditional tomato sauce or one of the standard house curry sauces.
Tanglin's is the brainchild of Alan Lucas and Mark Logan, partners in St. Petersburg's Moon Under Water. Looking around for a second restaurant location for a while, they finally hit on this takeout-focused concept (though Tanglin's eat-in dining room is also pretty and inviting).
The menu is a textbook example of doing a few things and doing them well. There are four base curries (traditional, the reddish tikha, creamy korma or a spicy-kicky "Go Green"), offered mild, medium or hot and with beef ($9), chicken ($8), shrimp ($10) or veggie and tofu ($6). This comes with saffron-colored basmati rice, and there are a range of bells and whistles: naan ($1), peppery, crisp pappadam ($1), extra sauce ($2), baked fries ($3). The curries aren't going to blow your doors off, but they're fragrant and the flavors balanced.
A Thai crab curry soup (thick, tasty, but not particularly Thai in my opinion, $4) and a couple of salads (house $5, Asian $5 — alas, I'd comment on this one but it wasn't in my bag when I arrived home) round out the options at dinner. At lunchtime the menu expands to include hot pressed panini ($6 to $8.25, which includes soda, side salad and chips).
Despite the fact that dishes are reminiscent of their counterparts at Moon Under Water, Tanglin's feels like something all-new on the takeout scene. Lucas and Logan have added a further innovation: "party packs" ($72) that feed six to eight people, with curry and all the fixings, including Sternos, utensils, tablecloth and napkins, which means your next exotic soiree is just a car ride away.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, can be found at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining. Reiley dines anonymously and unannounced. The Times pays all expenses. Advertising has nothing to do with selection for review or the assessment.