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Friday
Jul312009

Restaurant Week: Dinner at Devi


  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Atmosphere:  colorful, bi-level space, opulent, exotic
  • Attire:  business-casual
  • Ideal for: 1x1/small group dining, prix-fixe menu, interesting cocktail list
  • Must try: Manchurian Cauliflower
  • Price: I had the $35 3-course prix-fixe menu
  • Reservations: Via phone or opentable.com
  • Phone: (212) 691-1300
  • Website: http://www.devinyc.com
  • Location: 8 E. 18th St., (btwn 5th Ave. and Broadway )

*All of my photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

Ah, NYC Restaurant Week. For those of you that aren’t familiar, here’s the 4-11 (taken from nycgo.com): “NYC Restaurant Week®, New York City’s original celebration of dining, dates back to 1992…Since 1992, the success of NYC Restaurant Week has only grown. It has expanded to include both lunch and dinner offerings—three-course, prix-fixe meals for $24.07 and $35, respectively—and extended to two weeks each in the summer and winter.” Sounds like one hell of a bargain, doesn’t it?

Ceci, a fellow Texan and recent NYC transplant, and I made a date for a Restaurant Week dinner at Devi, a much-hyped-about Indian restaurant in the Flatiron neighborhood. Having arrived slightly early for our reservation, I was able to study both the regular and RW (Restaurant Week) menus. While sipping a cocktail at the restaurant’s petite bar (awaiting Cecis arrival), I began making small talk with some of the employees. “This is interesting,” I mumbled, “your regular menu offers virtually the same deal as the RW menu does: $35 prix fixe for two courses plus dessert. So, I dont get it. Why would anyone participate in RW here? One of the hostesses gushed, “Right? The prix-fixe deal on our regular dinner menu is much better, at least in my opinion. You literally get to choose any two items plus dessert, and you’re not restricted to the limited RW-specific menu."

And without further ado, I present to you: Restaurant Week, Dinner at Devi.

What’s the space like?

Spacious, bi-level room; think casual Indian elegance: Bold colored paper-lantern “chandeliers,” cherry-red walls sporadically draped with oatmeal-hued tuille, ornate wooden door and banister moldings, and an overall feeling of warmth and tranquility.

How was the service?

Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable.

Did you drink?

Indeed! I had a “Mumbai Margarita,” which was topped with a dash of cayenne pepper and St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, before moving on to a refreshing vodka-limeade concoction.

How was the food?

Obviously Ceci and I came to Devi for Restaurant Week, but ultimately opted for the $35 3-course prix-fixe from the regular dinner menu:

  • Amuse bouche: The bottom of a small white bowl was lightly smeared with a thick brown sauce, acting as glue to a bite-sized fried chickpea patty. Think: Falafel infused with Indian spices.
  • Grilled Scallops, roasted pepper chutney, bitter orange marmalade: Note the s on the end of scallop. The fact that this dish only came with ONE scallop was deceptive and disappointing; had I known that the pluralization was a typo/false-advertisement, I would have chosen a different appetizer. A slender, rectangular white plate arrived with three evenly spaced and modernly arranged items. To the far left was roasted pepper chutney; in the middle sat a perfectly cooked scallop resting atop a dollop of a bright orange-colored cream sauce; and to the far right were two pieces of Manchurian cauliflower that tasted like a meatless version of P.F. Chang’s Orange Peel Chicken (crispy, dense, sweet, salty, sour and buttery).
  • Tandoori Prawns, eggplant chutney, crispy okra salad: Perched atop what looked like a hay stack of thinly sliced fried okra and crunchy purple onions were three of the largest, meatiest prawns I’ve ever seen. Basted in what I assume was a yogurt marinade, the shellfish tasted as if they were seductively embraced by the heat of the tandoor (because they were that perfectly cooked). While I loved the juicy prawns, I found the accompanying crispy okra salad to be dry and incompatible.
  • Potato paratha (bread) *Note that this did not come with the prix-fixe special; we paid extra for this very necessary staple: Think traditional/plain naan bread, only stuffed with a thin layer of coriander smashed potatoes. Divine!
  • Two scoops of homemade ice cream: Vanilla and caramel: As a self-proclaimed ice-cream aficionado, Devi certainly makes a delicious scoop. Yet again, I was taken aback by the tiny portion size (one small scoop of each flavor). But because both ice creams were so fresh and delicious, I ate much slower than usual in order to truly savor each bite.

What’s pricing like?

The 3-course $35 prix fixe dinner special is a great deal, especially when you can choose from otherwise expensive plates off of the restaurants regular menu. However, Devis entrees do not come with rice or naan, which is like serving Tex-Mex without rice and refried beans. Heres a snapshot of what my meal would have looked like had I dined a-la-carte:

  • Grilled Scallops, roasted pepper chutney, bitter orange marmalade: $14
  • Tandoori Prawns, eggplant chutney, crispy okra salad: $34
  • Potato paratha: $5
  • Two scoops of homemade ice cream: $9
  • Grand total before two beverages, tax and tip: $62
  • Bottom line: You’re an idiot if you order a-la-carte.

Will you return to Devi?

Probably, at some point, though I’m not rushing to return any time soon. After participating in five years’ worth of Restaurant Weeks and paying for numerous tasting menus, I’ve come to the conclusion that prix-fixe-dining isnt for me. “But why not,” you ask, “isn’t $35 for 3-courses a great deal, especially in NYC?” Nope. And do you want to know why? Plain and simple:

1) Because I drink. That’s right; with a couple of cocktails/wine (at approximately $12-14 per glass) added to the tab, I can’t walk out of a restaurant for under $75. And that’s pre-tip, pre-tax and pre-après dinner aperitif!

2) I don’t need that much food. A cocktail and either two appetizers or one entrée is plenty for me.

3) I’m on a budget! I can’t spend $75 every time I choose to eat away from home.

Devi is a lovely restaurant with beautiful atmospherics and fantastic service. However, I prefer eating my Indian food in a more casual setting where rice and naan accompany every entrée…And where spending more than $30/person is unheard of.

xo,

TLB

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