LEXINGTON, MA–For the past four decades, Vinod & Shikha Kapoor have been recognized for showcasing their generous hospitality, culinary talent, and memorable Indian offerings at their restaurant establishments in Boston and its surroundings.
Along with their son, Sorabh and his wife, Anuradha, they now have opened their newest location, in Lexington, MA: Clay Oven. Clay Oven is a casual-upscale, neighborhood and family-friendly eatery with a modern, yet artistic twist.
The next generation of the Kapoor family, Sorabh & Anuradha Kapoor have birthed a new concept in the historical Town of Lexington. Backed with traditional family recipes and Clay Oven’s artsy decor, the young couple is now carrying on the family’s restaurant legacy.
Clay Oven is the first of its kind. With this new setting, Sorabh and Anuradha have recalibrated the perception of the Indian dining experience with its fresh, sophisticated menu, beautiful interior, full service bar (with a broad wine and cocktail list along with an extensive selection of single malt and blended scotches), and seasonal outdoor patio seating.
The Kapoor Family are long-time residents of Lexington and the founders of Bombay Club, formerly located in Harvard Square and Faneuil Hall, and the beloved Back Bay favorite, Kebab-N-Kurry, where they began their 40+ year journey in delivering high quality Indian cuisine. They also currently operate the infamous Masala Art in Needham and a reputable catering business focused on high end weddings and social events.
Clay Oven opened its doors last month in Lexington Center and have introduced a brand new and innovative menu. Located in the former home of Lexx Restaurant, Clay Oven boasts creative and authentic Indian offerings from different regions of India including the North, South, and Hyderabad. Popular roadside Mumbai chaats, or snacks, have been expertly revamped by their new culinary team. Long time menu favorites of Lexx, such as the Hummus Plate, Grilled Salmon Over Greens and the Mediterranean Salad have also been strategically integrated into Clay Oven’s menu.
“Clay Oven has a unique a la carte Lunch Menu which focuses on lighter menu items such as salads, sandwiches and wraps,” said Sorabh. “Be sure to try the Combo Thaalis: beautiful, royal-like silver plated platters used to serve traditional vegetarian or non-vegetarian selections. Lunch time customers also have the ability to create their own combo Thaalis, fitting their own preferences.”
At Clay Oven, the dishes include many traditional family recipes as well as newly designed, fusion concepts inspired by India’s extensive culinary landscape and Sorabh’s love for worldly foods and knack for presentation. The menu for Clay Oven is intentionally condensed, yet nothing seems to be missed. They offer the traditional classic best sellers and their own inspired signature dishes, but also introduced many new contemporary and fusion items such as the Goat Cheese & Paneer Stuffed Mushrooms, Grilled Rosemary Lamb Tips, Grilled Corn on the Cob coated with Red Chili Aioli, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Malai Chicken Quesadilla. The Grilled Seafood Platter and Clay Oven Mixed Grill Platter are also note-worthy, as are the fan-favorite lunch-time Biryani bowls, a slow cooked and rice dish from Hyderabad offered in vegetarian, chicken, lamb or goat varieties.
The Kapoors have worked hard at setting the tone for the meal by crafting many innovative starters. There are many options to choose from. New appetizers include the flavorful Black Pepper Chicken, Chicken Tikka Satay, Beet Root Tikki, Malai Shrimp Cocktail, and Seared Tamarind Scallops. Chaats have also been revamped. No matter what your favorite is, you will find it at Clay Oven. The elaborate Chaat section of the menu offer the exclusive Mango-Avacado Chaat, a light, flavorful and fun salad, as well as the spicy and savory Pav Bhaji Bruschetta.
Other unique characteristics of the menu are that all meat items are prepared with Halal Meat (The Punjabi Goat Curry is to die for). They also offer a huge selection of gluten free dishes and vegetarian preparations, including the exotic and mouth-watering Lychee Paneer, or exclusive Gobhi Gulistan, a full head of steamed cauliflower smothered with a homemade blended yogurt, cashew and mint sauce – a truly gastronomical experience.
For those who prefer the traditional favorites, Clay Oven offers all the goodies. Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Vindaloo and Korma are always available as well as their infamous, sizzling hot, freshly grilled Tandoori Kebabs, including the Malai Chicken Sizzler, Tandoori Paneer Tikka, and their signature dish, Lamb Barra Kebab.
Desserts are not to be overlooked at Clay Oven. They offer traditional desserts such as Badami Kheer (rice pudding) and Gulab Jamun, but also created the lightly sweetened Gajjar Halwa Trifle – an interesting twist on the sweet carrot dessert with layers of coconut cream and crushed pistachio. Ice cream Profiteroles are also a highlighted dessert item with three flavors of Lexington’s own Rancatore’s Ice Cream. The banana bread pudding is a new addition that is every bit as beautiful as its sweet flavor.
The Kapoors have put 40+ years of cooking experience and countless family recipes into this menu. Indeed a treat each time you visit. The menu is eclectic, diverse, and authentic, but most importantly, designed for everyone to get a glimpse of the many regions of India through the food.
“Food is our passion,” says Sorabh. “Our family has operated many restaurants in the past and we always strive to make each restaurant and experience different at all of our locations. This one is close to home and in the few short weeks we have been open, we have had many local friends visit us already. It is both encouraging and reassuring. It is also surreal to me. I grew up in Lexington and went through the public school system from elementary school onwards. It has been a long time dream for me to have my own restaurant in Lexington Center where I spent so much of my childhood. My wife Anu and I had been long time customers of Lexx since they opened in 2003. Coincidentally, it was one of our favorite eateries in Lexington. I recall during our first visit to Lexx, I told Anu that it would be a perfect location for an Indian restaurant. I never actually thought that it would happen, but it is funny how things worked out. We are proud to be Lexington residents and to have our two daughters also grow up in this town. We are also excited to become a part of Lexington’s historic culture and business community and having an opportunity to further extend our family’s legacy in providing quality food to our patrons.”
Clay Oven is a 120+ seat restaurant, which includes a full bar and lounge area as well as a beautifully decorated semi private dining area in the back of the restaurant, perfect for parties of 35 to 40 guests. The outdoor patio has an additional 24 seats that will be available seasonally. The artistic elements throughout the Clay Oven add to the contemporary look and feel of the eatery with soft colors and unique hand painted designs. Most notable is the etched in mural in the back dining area boasting 1300 hand placed gems. As Anuradha states, “I always loved the bar area at Lexx, but the restaurant was a bit dark overall. We wanted a bit of a brighter look for our concept. We hired two amazingly talented local artists that helped us conceptualize the design of the restaurant. We wanted an elegant, contemporary look that also captured the essence of India. The end result is absolutely stunning.”
Sorabh and Anu made a conscious decision to retain most of Lexx’s staff. The majority of kitchen staff as well as front of the house staff stayed on to be employed at Clay Oven, and were willing to learn Clay Oven’s unique menu, as well as the culture and traditions of India. The turnaround time from Lexx to Clay Oven was just over two months. Sorabh took that opportunity to train the staff at Needham’s Masala Art.
“It was a fun two months for me. I have spent most of my professional career operating the front of the house and the catering parts of the business. This past summer, I spent the afternoons documenting all the recipes from my mother, Shikha, and teaching our new culinary team the art of blending spices and creating all of the new dishes. In the evenings, we would have the trainees make all the dishes they learned throughout the day and serve them to the front of the house staff so that could try each item and really get an opportunity to learn the uniqueness of the dishes, the nuance of each offering. They learned about the different spices and how they are used while mastering the menu. We had dinner together every night. It helped us build a dedicated, family like team. I believe it worked remarkably well for both the kitchen and the wait staff.”
Clay Oven is located at 1666 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington, Massachusetts. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner from 11:30 am to 9 pm Sunday Thru Thursday, and until 10 pm on Fridays & Saturdays. For more details, please visit www.clayovenlexington.com. Reservations are accepted online. Follow Clay Oven on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/clayovenlex, on Instagram @clayovenlex or on Twitter at @clayovenlex.