Exotic Eats: Taj & The Castle Cafe

As you drive around the Wiregrass you can easily take a trip around the world through food. There are plenty of Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and Italian restaurants, but recently other international cuisines have also found a home in the area.

Drive through downtown Dothan, on Montgomery highway, and you will spot a restaurant offering an odd combination of flavors. Taj not only serves Indian and Greek food, but southern barbecue as well.

Owner, Ritesh Mohan says, "One kind of food cannot survive. You've got to diversify. If a group of people come in, everyone has an option. Everyone is not pushed to just eat Indian food, or the southern barbecue or the Greek. They can eat a little bit of everything and enjoy everything."

There are ribs and coleslaw for barbecue fans, and gyro's and baba ganoush for those who prefer Greek food, but if spicy Indian cuisine is what you are after, there is plenty of that too.

For beginners, Mohan recommends the kebab plate, which is like an Indian fajita, or the chicken tikka masala, described as chicken cooked in a creamy sauce with fresh tomatoes and oriental spices.

"It's wonderful. The flavors are so unique, and we like the spiciness," says Christie Smith, a customer.

If you can't take the heat, you can take a drive on highway 84 west in Daleville. Here, you will find a hidden gem that has more than jewelry inside.

"It's like a mini mall. You have a food court and a store. So the combination is very nice, and we are able to work in both," say Ingrid Strange, owner of The Castle Café.

The castle cafe has been dishing up German food from old family recipes for nearly 25 years.

"It's fresh food. Nothing pre-fabricated. We cut the meat, we do the cordon bleu, the schnitzels. The only thing we have to order ready is the bratwurst and knackwurst," says Strange.

Other dishes like spaetzle, red cabbage, and German potato salad, are also made from scratch.

"We order the jaeger schnitzel, and I've been back ever since. 14 years, same meal every time I come. The food is always good, it's always hot. It's made fresh right when I order, and it's always perfect," says customer Joy Roberts.
But with very little advertising, some may wonder how a restaurant only serving lunch can be successful for more than 2 decades. Strange's daughter, Kirsten Negard, has an idea.

"Ingrid period. She loves her soldiers. She takes care of her customers like their family. Ingrid goes to every table to make sure they're doing alright. She's our number one person making sure quality control is happening. She's in the kitchen every day," says Negard.

Because advertising is costly, the Castle Cafe and Taj are reaching out through social networking to attract new patrons. Although it is helping, Mohan says that can only take you so far.

"If we have Facebook, but if there is no good food or good service, then no one is going to come," says Mohan.


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