Considering that Adam took over 130 pictures of London restaurants we ate at, it was only natural that we start chronicling our thoughts and opinions about the food we eat. We've totally become accidental foodies. It all started out when Sheila started calling Adam "the human trash compactor"; since he eats almost anything. But somewhere along the way we started having discussions about food and seeking out culinary adventures when on travel. We bring a unique perspective to this arena as we're both vegetarians (no meat, poultry, or fish). I suspect we will both have varying opinions on the food, and hope to not only have a record for posterity, but provide some fun, useful if not amateur insight.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

suvir saran's devi in the flatiron district...

A work trip to the NYC meant the opportunity for (1) Sheila to join me on the weekend and (2) another tasting tour through this food Mecca. We'd been watching Top Chef Masters this season and decided on a pre-theater dinner at Suvir Saran's Devi near Union Square Park. The decor is mix of beautifully detailed Indian doors adorning the walls, vibrant red painted walls, and Moroccan inspired light fixtures. We were seated on the Mezzanine level above the main dining hall; being the only couple upstairs meant that the service staff was very attentive.

The menu was North Indian inspired, with a hint to both modern and Chinese influences. Considering the chef's creations during Top Chef Masters, the menu kept to his roots. We opted for the $40 pre-fix menu with appetizer, entree, and dessert. Given the a la carte prices, this was the right choice.

Sheila opted to start with the Spouted Mung and Peanut Chaat (sprouted beans, tomatoes, onions, mint, cilantro, potatoes, tamarind chutney, and mini pappad discs). The presentation was exquisite; like a zenga tower with the papad sandwiched between the other fresh ingredients. As expected the veggies were extremely fresh. However the papad quickly lost its crispiness given the inherent water within the veggies and chutney. Sheila and I agreed that the mung salad we had at Dosa (in SF) was better.

I started with the Manchurian cauliflower (an Indo-Chinese style dish with tomato, garlic, and cayenne pepper). The cauliflower was perfectly cooked as my knife cut right through the florets with ease. There were no other veggies on the plate, just cauliflower. Despite that, we thought this was the best dish of the evening.

The two entrees we ordered were the laukee ke kofte (zucchini and squash dumplings prepared in a tomato onion sauce) and the karahi paneer (Indian cottage cheese cubes with sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, and fenugreek). Sheila's kofte was rich and creamy, but packed some serious heat. Each dumpling was very moist and despite the heavy handed spices, the zucchini and squash flavors came through well. In hindsight I should have ordered a side of raita because my nose was definitely running! Unlike typical karahi paneers, this preparation included a mix masala infused veggies. Sheila preferred this entree because of the overall taste balance. I for one could not appreciate this for what it was - an elevated paneer dish worthy of praise. Reason is, I've been on paneer overload the past six months and it all tastes the same. Time go on a paneer diet for the next few months.

I would be remise if I didn't mention the naan. Sheila proclaimed it to be the best naan she has ever eaten. Very high praise indeed and I have to agree. Some naans come to the table dense on the edges and brunt crispy in the middle. Devi's naan was fluffy, light, and chewy throughout. So good was the naan that we ordered another piece in lieu of any rice! For dessert, we both ordered the mango cheesecake. The presentation was like a piece of artwork - a cylinder of mango and ricotta atop a cookie base, served with a crescent shaped almond crisp. The cheesecake was fluffy and rich, but not overly sweet; the almond crisp provided the sugar needed. A great finishing touch to our meal.

Service was exceptionally quick; perhaps because we were the first patrons of the evening. It was only a matter of a few minutes between all of our dishes. Having become accustom to sharing our dinners - both of us felt really stuffed at the end of this meal. Needless to say we probably won't be ordering a pre-fix menu any time soon. As for Devi, it was better than the higher end North Indian fare we've had in the Bay Area. However, we wouldn't come back; there are too many restaurants in the NYC still to try.

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