A sleek, black elephant statue overlooks the dining room, its trunk raised in a silent trumpet of approval, or perhaps to catch whiffs of the fragrant Indian, Tibetan, and Indo-Nepalese foods filing out from the kitchen. Inside, surrounded by traditional tandoori clay ovens and simmering pots of lentils, a chef backed by 20 years of experience imbues each dish with a blend of traditional spices. He stuffs flaky, savory pastries known as chaat with beans, yogurt, and chutneys, and sprinkles pinches of curry powder into pans of lamb and vegetables. During lunchtime, waiters ferry massive trays of the chef's eats to the buffet, where diners can load plates with enough vegetable masala to make a perfect sauce-angel.
Inside India Tavern, a large bay window casts a natural glow on grape and lime-green walls and plates of homestyle Indian fare. Named 5280 Magazine's Editors' Choice of their Top of the Town feature, diners can cozy up to a table beside the stone fireplace as they partake of clay-oven tandoori dishes made with chicken, lamb, or goa fish. After sopping up a ginger or saffron curry entree with fresh-baked naan bread, they can also question a knowledgeable server on the difference between mild, medium, and hot spice or why humans drive on parkways and park on driveways.
Aromatic herbs weasel their way into almost every dish at Real Thai, where chefs add a liberal sprinkling of chilies, basil, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaf to create their signature dishes. These can take the form of entrees such as green curry that's infused with coconut milk or drunken noodles that are free of inhibition. However, not every dish is built upon a foundation of noodles or rice. They also whip up specialties such as eggplant stuffed with ground chicken and shrimp and drizzled in eel sauce.