The Connection Runners + vegetarian

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 21 ( years ago).

Lately I've had a hankering for Indian food so I asked around for recommendations. Overwhelmingly, the response was I needed to check out Clay Pit. I hopped online, read a million positive Yelp reviews and checked out their menu. I soon found out that they were voted the #1 Indian Food Restaurant in Austin according to an Austin Chronicle poll.

Clay Pit is a contemporary Indian food restaurant located in downtown Austin, on Guadalupe Street.

We munched on a traditional starter of Papadum as we perused the menu.

Upon the suggestion of our waiter, I ordered this beauty:

That my friends, is my new favorite drink. It was mango, ginger and chili infused vodka. Don't let the ingredients scare you, it was super smooth with a healthy dose of kick.

Happily sipping our drinks, we selected our appetizers. We ordered Veggie Samosas and their famed Curried Mussels. The mussels were in a garlic curry sauce, mellowed with red wine. They were the biggest hit of the evening. The sauce, sopped up with garlic and basil naan, was heavenly. We ate all the mussels, but still packaged the sauce up to bring home. Lets just say I barely resisted pouring it over my cheerios this morning. :) SO good!

Our main course was served family style, so everyone had a variety of things to try. Except me of course, I only eat seafood so the "meat" dish review are from the rest of the group. I was happy to see the menu featured plenty of seafood and vegetarian dishes. Our dishes included: Khuroos-E-Tursh,Vindaloo,Sirloin Kebobs and Goan Yellow Curry.

Their signature Khuroos-E-Tursh: Medallions of chicken-breast stuffed with seasoned spinach, mushrooms, onions & cheese, simmered in a rich cashew-almond cream sauce. The sauce on this dish was a hit with the table.

Goan Yellow Curry: marinated shrimp sauteed in fresh garlic and herbs, cooked in spiced goan curry. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, it was delicious pared with the basmati rice. The great thing about all the dishes was that they would tailor the spice level to your liking.

Sirloin Kebob: received rave reviews from the group.

More than a meal:

Everything was delicious. We ended the meal with full bellies and smiles on our faces. It was the perfect birthday meal and I could've left right then, very happy. But it got better. The GM, Bali offered us a tour of his building. Of course we were delighted to look around.

The building, known at the Bertram building, is 157 years old. It is separated into several dining rooms, making the atmosphere very cozy. Off of the main room is the bar area. Bali let us know that his bar tops are colored with the actual spices that are mainstays in their dishes; turmeric, paprika and curry.

After visiting a few of the other dining rooms, as well as noticing a wall FULL of awards, we were taken to a part of the building they refer to as the cellar.

Down these old stone stairs, we entered into a small room. The low slung, stone ceiling and warm glow cast from henna painted lamps created ambiance perfect for a romantic dining experience.

We were enamored with the architectural details of this room, but became even more interested as Bali started telling us a little more about its history. It turns out, at one point there was a brothel across the way from the building. There was a tunnel that ran between the brothel and the Bertram building, which was a general store at the time. Local men of prominence would use the tunnel during police raids on the brothel.

After the cellar we headed upstairs, to a huge room that Clay Pit uses for charity events and special occasions. Warm wood floors and antique lights keep the ambiance going.

Also upstairs is their spice room, tucked behind this little door,which always stays open to let the spices breathe.

The tour complete, we arrived back at the main dining room. As we were offering our thanks for the experience, Bali asked if we had tried their award winning Mango Cheesecake. We explained we had been WAY to full to even think about ordering dessert. Not wanting us to miss out on their signature dessert, he had to-go pieces boxed up for each of us. Silky and smooth, it made the perfect breakfast this morning.

Small things make a big difference:

On a side note, totally outside of the food. I have to say I appreciate their to-go boxes. I often bring home food when we eat out, and cringe each time I'm sent home with styrofoam. Clay Pit uses cardboard and paper products that are minimal and recyclable. It's a small detail, but it made a lasting impression.

I'd like to thanks my sisters, Charles and Janna for coming out for my birthday dinner.

I was wanting more than just good food for my special meal, I was hoping for a total dining experience, and I found that. A special thanks to Bali, and all the staff at Clay Pit for making it such a memorable night.

Clay Pit will be celebrating their own birthday on December 16th. Come by and celebrate with them and receive 12% off your bill in honor of their 12th anniversary.

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Happy Birthday to Me + vegetarian