It was Jason's 33rd birthday, and I suggested we try Tantra (in hindsight it was kind of crazy seeing how no one in our group had eaten there yet).
Anyway, Tantra 's decor is quite stunning, it's very Bollywood; colorful, exotic and featured some really good lighting -- Wow, Jason looked 29 in this light ;-)
While waiting for the stragglers in our party to show up, we hung out in the bar, enjoyed the live DJ, some danced to the groovy tunes (more about the music selection later). Of course we ordered pre-dinner drinks; beers ($5), the mojitos were particularly yummy, if a bit pricey ($7) for Silverlake.
Since we were a large group of 20, the Tantra staff set up a row of tables for us to dine right there in the bar. Which was perfect for a big loud birthday party like ours.
Let me say right off I'm not an expert on Indian food, so bear with me. As far as I could tell, the menu had all the usual stuff found in most Indian restaurants across town. For an appetizers I ordered the samosas ($4.95); tasty, but way too small -- 3 teeny-tiny bite sized portions. For my entree I ordered the chili chicken, don't know it's Indian name ($12.95). The large portion was served with saffron rice, the sauce was flavorful and spicy, unfortunately for me it was made with dark meat chicken, and I'm a total white meat guy.
There was a lot of cross sampling of dishes and it seemed to me that the vegetarian dishes were the best offerings on the menu. Most of the entrees were in the 10 to 18 dollar range, the vegetarian dishes in the 6-10 range.
The owner (a very nice man) introduced himself to us, and made sure that things went as smoothly as possible. Alas, service was a little uneven, but I'm sure that it was due to having only one waitress trying to take care of all 20 of us.
My only real nitpick was the uneven music selection. The DJ started the night on a great note, but as the evening wore on it got progressively LOUDER and more "house music". I would have preferred the tunes to be more adventurous, world beat/dance stuff. Hell, let's have some music that compliments the fabulous decor! There's no excuse for bad house music!
Everyone in our group seemed to enjoy the meal/atmosphere (although by the end of the night we were all pretty liquored up).
To sum it up: good drinks/great bar, food was good -- the vegetarian dishes excellent, the music/DJ needs help, atmosphere/decor was top notch, service was good. Overall -- more pricey than your usual Indian place, but worth it for a special occasion.