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Restaurant Review: Ayurveda Cafe

June 15, 2010

Hi, everybody! Today I’m here with yet another NYC restaurant review, this time from an Upper East Side Indian joint known as Ayurveda Cafe. Caitlin and I went here with my parents a couple of weekends ago, and I’m pleased to report that Ayurveda is definitely the best Indian place I’ve eaten at in the city. Granted, I haven’t been to all that many Indian restaurants here (and the ones I have been at have been particularly unpleasant experiences), but regardless, Ayurveda stands up well against the many other fine Indian eateries I’ve visited in the past, and so I feel confident in my recommendation. But let me explain more, and you can judge for yourself…

What really sets Ayurveda Cafe apart is its unique menu and approach. Ayurveda doesn’t have a menu that you offer off of, as do most other restaurants. Instead, the food served changes daily, based (I’m assuming) on what’s in season, on what the chef feels like making, and on what will work best with everything else. And so, instead of ordering a specific entree or anything, every diner just gets the same big platter, including the day’s appetizer, entrees, rice, bread, salad, chutneys, and dessert! (And did I mention that everything is 100% vegetarian?) It was definitely a different experience for me going out and not knowing what I’d be eating, but I will generally eat any Indian food that is placed in front of me, so I was eager to dig in.

Before our platters arrived, though, we ordered some drinks, and I got this Banana Lassi:

I’ve never had a Banana Lassi before, but this one was great! It was packed with lots of sweet banana flavor. Caitlin enjoyed a Plain Lassi, which, though too tangy for me, seemed to suit her taste buds very well. And then, in hardly any time at all, our platters arrived!

Sorry that this picture isn’t any better, but I’ll explain what everything is as best I can. Starting from the top and moving clockwise we have: raita (which I surprisingly liked—I’m usually not much of a fan), salad (a little too simple, but fine), some sort of curry vegetable dish (very good), rice (no complaints there), some sort of vegetable pakora-like things (very good), a sort of Indian white bean soup (delicious), and in the center, an Indian spinach dish (loved it). I liked how everything was neatly separated into little bowls, and I thought the portions were perfect—enough to get your fill of each dish, but not so much that you got too full on any one of them. Plus, from what their menu tells me, their platters are made with a healthy balance in mind, and always include all six tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent. I wasn’t able to pick out all these tastes myself, but I did appreciate the general variety!

Last but not least, we were served a petite dish of rice pudding for dessert:

Caitlin was very excited to see that this was the dessert du jour, as she loves rice pudding. I was a little less ecstatic—that is, until I tried it. Although I’m generally not a fan of rice pudding, Ayurveda’s take on the dish really hit the spot for me, and I happily gobbled it up!

As for the service, the staff were friendly and I had no complaints. The atmosphere, however, left something to be desired (namely a replacement of their creepy purple lighting), but it was by no means bad. I would eagerly return to Ayurveda any day, especially given their very reasonable prices: $9 for their lunch platter, and $12 for their dinner one. Plus, with their ever-changing menu, every visit is a new experience! So if you’re in Upper Manhattan and looking for a good Indian place to eat, check out Ayurveda—you won’t be disappointed.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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