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Devi


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Sounds as great as expected. I'm looking forward to getting there when I get back to NYC. Any pics?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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HWOE and I were there last night with a visiting-from-Jacksonville, FL couple. My first worry came when they announced they were light eaters; second was Caroline's fear of "spicy" food. But everything worked out splendidly. Of course.

We explained the "not spicy" issue to our server -- a charming, very helpful young woman -- and she gave us excellent advice on what and what not to order. I guessed/hoped that Suvir would send us out something extra, so we ordered less than I might have with bigger "fressers." What we ordered:

Apps: Idli; Samosa trio -- to share by the table

Mains: Basil chicken (for both our friends); Parsi halibut for HWOE; that lotus seed-chenna curry for me.

Sides: the trio of rices; a raita with crisp lotus stems.

Wine: On the by-the-glass list, I had noticed an Iron Horse Pinot Noir Rose -- something quite new to me; they were gracious enough to give us tastes, and to let us buy a bottle even though it's only sold by the glass normally. (Sorry, I don't know what they charged for the whole bottle.)

Dessert: Falooda

What we got: all of the above, plus:

an order of the Manchurian cauliflower; scallops, served with the crispy okra; the pineapple dessert trio; kulfi.

The amuse was a little baked pastry triangle filled with spinach and cauliflower (it looked exactly like my grandmother's hamantaschen) served on tomato chutney. We warned Caroline off the chutney; had she eaten it, the burn might have been more immediate, rather than sneaking up as it did for the rest of us. In a very tasty way.

The idli were quite different from previous versions: instead of just round steamed pillows, they were little pyramids, greaselessly deep-fried, so they were "crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside." David, who is supposed to abjure all coconut, decided it was worth going off the diet for a bit of the accompanying coconut chutney. And Caroline said that even plain, the idli were very tasty.

Samosas were enjoyed by all, as were the mint and tamarind chutneys. The frying there is expert: as with the idli, not a bit of excess grease.

The chicken and halibut came with lemon rice, so I took all of that from the trio of rices, and we split up the mint-coconut and tamarind versions. Strong flavor, good texture on all. The chicken was of course wonderfully moist, with the chicken, basil and smoky flavors in good balance. HWOE raved about how soft and moist his halibut was. And my lotus seed curry was as delicious as it was unusual in textures -- the creaminess of the cashews, chewiness of the seeds, and the peas somewhere in between; great contrasts. This came in a huge portion, which was great for sharing, and share we did. We each loved it for different reasons. And all the little dabs of chutneys were clean in their flavors, and distinct. (No Sixth-Street common jar of mango chutney here!) We didn't really need the raita to put out any mouth-fires, but I'm glad we ordered it: again, a great contrast in texture between the soft yogurt and the crunchy lotus root slices, and well-balanced cumin flavor. If you order this, eat us all the lotus first; it does get a bit soggy as it sits.

The cauliflower just keeps getting better with each rendition. This time, the garlic really came through, along with the sweet/tartness and the crunch of the coating.

The scallops, which for us came with a side of crispy okra, were heavenly. Sweet, moist, tender, just smoky enough, and the citrus marmalade and (sweet) red pepper chutneys balanced perfectly. Since I am a huge fan of the okra, and was a bit disappointed the last time I had it at Amma, I was very pleased to see it return to its crunchy, greaseless state.

By this point we were all quite satisfied, and decided to share just one dessert, the Falooda, which is billed as a sort of Indian sundae. Sweet-toothed Suvir also sent us the pineapple trio and the kulfi. As a nonlover of pineapple, I have to say that it was one of the most brilliant desserts I've ever eaten. Between the layers of poached pineapple, genoise, mascarpone mousse, and "pineapple gello," and the pineapple-cilantro sorbet, AND the slick of cilantro syrup across the plate, I've been converted. The kulfi is another item that just keeps improving -- the texture was smooth and rich, and the citrus balanced perfectly. The falooda was very busy, with two kinds of sorbet, "coconut lemongrass milk," a coconut tuile, and the noodles (which seemed more like tapioca to me, but that's not a negative). I think that is a better dessert to keep to oneself, in order to be able to taste everything in combination with everything else. BTW: Hemant's wife is the one doing the desserts now, along with someone with a not-particularly-South Asian name (which I neglected to write down :sad: ).

And let me not forget the mignardises: chocolates from Thomas Haas (sp?) in Vancouver. Well, we forced ourselves to taste them. :laugh: And were very glad we did.

Not a single dish was disappointing in any way. The "familiar" dishes seem to be in a state of continual improvement and refinement. And I can't wait to go back and try the new ones.

A lovely room, very gracious and well-trained staff -- all in all, a very happy experience.

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How could I forget that pineapple cake? Wow. A number of people said it was the best dessert they'd ever had.

The desserts we had were much better than desserts I've had at other Asian restaurants, which I usually find painfully sweet. These complex, with mellowed sweetness usually counteracted with a subtle savory spice.

Edited by Stone (log)
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How could you indeed? :biggrin: The desserts are so unexpectedly au courant, for even an "Indian fusion" place. While as I mentioned, the menu items in general have evolved from very, very good to (in some cases) great, the desserts have moved up at least one full order of magnitude.

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I went to Devi this evening with my girlfriend and my parents who were in town. I liked Devi better than my Restaurant Week meal at Tabla. The Chefs Amuse was a delicious Spinach and Potato Cake with a hint of chutney. I ordered the Trio Samosa and the Mongolian Cauliflower as appetizers for the table. Both were well received by all. Next came the Crispy Beef, Lotus Seed in Cashew Sauce, Sheik Kabob (?) and a Pepper Chicken dish that I could not remember the name of. The best of these was the Lotus Seed dish --a real standout. Excellent Nan and Crab Paratha as well as a trio of South Indian Rice came with the meal. Although the portions were modestly measured, everyone at the table was very well satisfied by the time dessert came. We ordered the Mango Cheesecake and Falooda which was sort of an Indian Sundae consiting of Ice Cream, Sorbet, vermicelli, fruit (Mango or peach?). The Marsala Tea was excellent--very spicy. And the Riesling recommended by the manager, something from Mosel, Germany was, although sweet and fruity, a nice compliment to the cuisine and very popular at our table.

As some dishes do not come with rice, there is a real a la carte feel to the menu. I tried to campaign for the tasting menu, but as my father was in control of the tab, it was decided otherwise.

The decor was very charming, and if the interesting Indian folk/pop music were turned down a bit ,I would say the place could even qualify as being romantic. The lighting is such that it is difficult to read the menu. I noticed several solo diners among the couples and groups. As the vegetarian selections are very resonable and some of the best dishes on the menu (ie Lotus Seed), I would say that Devi can draw a wide range of customers--from Haute / demi monde to students.

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Run, do not walk, to Devi. Went last night with a couple who were Indian food novices and not big fans to begin with, both of whom raved through the whole meal. We all did the tasting menu, and not one thing was amiss. The panoply of spices and flavors was never repetitive or too much. Portions are tiny but you leave thoroughly sated. I can't help but compare this small but ambitious undertaking with my experience at Cafe Gray last week, and the difference is simple: at Cafe Gray, the general comments were "Mmmm, lovely." At Devi, it was uniformly "Oh my god." There is a magic at work in the kitchen at Devi that I didn't encounter amongst Chef Kunz' myriad minions.

One quibble: the tasting menu is $55 a person, but the bill came out to $112 with tip per person, and that with only two glasses of alcohol each. This was due to two orders of nan at $4 each, and two substitutions from the tasting menu for one of my friends who a) is allergic to shrimp and b) wanted to try a third dessert. Both of these items were charged on top of the $55. Who doesn't serve free bread, folks? And nan, even as superlative as this, ain't expensive to make. These policies strike me as stingy on the part of the restaurant, so by all means go -- but go prepared.

Edited by ewindels (log)

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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One quibble: the tasting menu is $55 a person, but the bill came out to $112 with tip per person, and that with only two glasses of alcohol each.  This was due to two orders of nan at $4 each, and two substitutions from the tasting menu for one of my friends who a) is allergic to shrimp and b) wanted to try a third dessert.  Both of these items were charged on top of the $55.  Who doesn't serve free bread, folks?  And nan, even as superlative as this, ain't expensive to make.  These policies strike me as stingy on the part of the restaurant, so by all means go -- but go prepared.

$4 is exactly what Kalustyan's Cafe charges for each order of nan and other breads. Tabla Bread Bar also charges for its breads. I have not been to that many Indian restaurants, but at all those I have been to, bread has not been served without a charge.

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Run, do not walk, to Devi.  Went last night with a couple who were Indian food novices and not big fans to begin with, both of whom raved through the whole meal.  We all did the tasting menu, and not one thing was amiss.  The panoply of spices and flavors was never repetitive or too much.  Portions are tiny but you leave thoroughly sated.

One quibble: the tasting menu is $55 a person, but the bill came out to $112 with tip per person, and that with only two glasses of alcohol each.  This was due to two orders of nan at $4 each, and two substitutions from the tasting menu for one of my friends who a) is allergic to shrimp and b) wanted to try a third dessert.  Both of these items were charged on top of the $55.  Who doesn't serve free bread, folks?  And nan, even as superlative as this, ain't expensive to make.  These policies strike me as stingy on the part of the restaurant, so by all means go -- but go prepared.

I thought that there was a huge value offered in the tasting menu.. I would think that they could charge alot more then they do. I couldnt even finish the last few courses. I believe that the chef makes the tasting menu and the chef didnt feel that bread went with the dishes he created. When you order a tasting menu you put your trust in the chef and should pay for anything extra that isnt on the tasting menu.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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i think "good value" is relative.  but at 200+ a couple, it's not a cheap date.

You are right the term good value is relative. In my opinion however, getting a several course large meal consisting of shrimp, scallop, chicken, lamb, and veal liver and brains, an amuse, and salad, with a dessert created by one of ny's most creative chefs for 55 bucks, is a good value.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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You are right the term good value is relative. In my opinion however, getting a several course large meal consisting of shrimp, scallop, chicken, lamb, and veal liver and brains, an amuse, and salad, with a dessert created by one of ny's most creative chefs for 55 bucks, is a good value.

agreed. personally i don't get too hung up on price tag, especially when dealing with the level of food that hemant is producing.

however, i thought the wine pours were a bit on the skimpy side, and i wasn't all that impressed with the wine by the glass selection. on that point, i would have a harder time claiming "good value."

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Note again, please, that my beef is with the fact that instead of letting my friend swap her shrimp and dessert courses as part of the $55 fee, these two items were instead charged on top of her $55, which I thought was a little much. And it's exactly because Devi is trying for a higher strata than most Indian restaurants that I take issue with the charges for nan. That said, I couldn't agree more that the $55 tasting is a spectacular deal for both the breadth and the quality, and none of these quibbles would stop me from going again, which I very much look forward to, especially since now I know how the menu operates.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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agreed.  personally i don't get too hung up on price tag, especially when dealing with the level of food that hemant is producing. 

however, i thought the wine pours were a bit on the skimpy side, and i wasn't all that impressed with the wine by the glass selection.  on that point, i would have a harder time claiming "good value."

I would like to see them add some Indian Wine to the list, or wine course. Kind of like they were doing at that place that started with an A.

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Dined at Devi last saturday night. Having been to Amma, I was really surprised by the contrast in atmosphere. Amma is smaller, cozier, a quiet peaceful dining experience. At Devi , the room with its high ruby red ceiling , plushy banquettes, constant music, somehow felt a bit pretentious.

We decided to have the tasting menu with the wine pairing. Unfortunately there were no wines on the menu from India( unlike Amma where we enjoyed a surprisingly good wine from Bangalore.) Neither our waiter or maitre d' were very informative about any of the wines they served to us however the service was friendly,attentive and swift. In fact too swift. I felt almost hurried through each course. Perhaps this is more a problem stemming from the kitchen , but the pace was so rushed we barely found time to finish are "modest" amounts of wine before the plates, cutlery and glasses were scooped up and replaced.

The food was wonderful, the pickles (eggplant, orange) were outstanding,and most memorable was the melt in your mouth lamb and the perfectly cooked tandoori shrimp. The tasting menu at Devi is really very generous, the only thing missing were the breads,no naan or chapaati were offered. All in all the meal was very good ,we went home content with Suvir 's new cookbook tucked snugly under the arm.

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  • 4 weeks later...
We were too distracted and happy fishing creamy yam dumplings from a fragrant pool of salmon-colored tomato sauce that had been seasoned enticingly with cloves and cardamom seeds, cinnamon and red pepper.
But just when I was ready to pronounce Devi a master of all flesh, I waded into two different dishes — one with a fiery curry sauce, the other with a marvelous gravy of pistachios, saffron and cream — that included chunks of excessively chewy chicken. A beef entree — sirloin pounded into thin strips — was similarly tough and unappealing. In its bid for "crispy," which was how the menu advertised it, it came up dry.

Devi (Frank Bruni) (this will be linked to the NYTimes DIGEST in tomorrow's update)

Soba

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I wonder whether anyone who's been to Devi would like to comment on Bruni's response to the desserts there.

Ha. I believe the dessert comments on the first page of this thread are worth reprising:

...by that time, we were getting quite full and wanted to leave room for dessert.

Good thing because desserts at Devi are phenomenal. We ordered the Mango Cheesecake and the Pineapple Cake with Pineapple Cilantro Sorbet. When we were informed that they were out of the cheesecake, we weren’t terribly disappointed because we had had it at Amma. (It was one of the best cheesecakes we have ever had!) So, instead, we substituted the Kulfi Citrus Soup. And were we glad we had it! Saffron-flavored Indian “ice cream” in a pyramid shape topped with gold leaf (!) sat in a pool of citrus liquid. The rich, creamy kulfi played against the bittersweet, tart soup. Unreal! As for the little cylinder of pineapple cake and the sorbet, as I said to my husband as we scarfed it all down, how can you miss with layers of fresh, finely diced pineapple, whipped cream, and thin disks of cake accompanied by sorbet? Hardly!

Then they brought out one of each dessert on the menu. We pretty much ate them all. I rarely feel that the dessert portion of a meal stands up to the entrees, but these were unbelievable. chai pannacotta, banana flan, kulfi with gold leaf, mango cheesecake, and more. Not everone loved everything, but I was shocked by the range of the beautiful presentations. every bit as good as I've seen at any other restaruant.

By this point we were all quite satisfied, and decided to share just one dessert, the Falooda, which is billed as a sort of Indian sundae. Sweet-toothed Suvir also sent us the pineapple trio and the kulfi. As a nonlover of pineapple, I have to say that it was one of the most brilliant desserts I've ever eaten. Between the layers of poached pineapple, genoise, mascarpone mousse, and "pineapple gello," and the pineapple-cilantro sorbet, AND the slick of cilantro syrup across the plate, I've been converted. The kulfi is another item that just keeps improving -- the texture was smooth and rich, and the citrus balanced perfectly. The falooda was very busy, with two kinds of sorbet, "coconut lemongrass milk," a coconut tuile, and the noodles (which seemed more like tapioca to me, but that's not a negative). I think that is a better dessert to keep to oneself, in order to be able to taste everything in combination with everything else. BTW: Hemant's wife is the one doing the desserts now, along with someone with a not-particularly-South Asian name (which I neglected to write down  :sad: ).

How could I forget that pineapple cake?  Wow.  A number of people said it was the best dessert they'd ever had.

The desserts we had were much better than desserts I've had at other Asian restaurants, which I usually find painfully sweet.  These complex, with mellowed sweetness usually counteracted with a subtle savory spice.

How could you indeed? :biggrin:  The desserts are so unexpectedly au courant, for even an "Indian fusion" place. While as I mentioned, the menu items in general have evolved from very, very good to (in some cases) great, the desserts have moved up at least one full order of magnitude.

As for myself, I've only been to Devi once, but the 'trio of creams' (chai panna cotta, banana flan, and shrikhand (mascarpone, crème fraiche and yogurt with candied grapefruit))--challenging, balanced, and delicious--was perhaps the most memorable part of an exceptional meal. I've long been a holdout in continuing to accord Bruni the benefit of the doubt, but this dessert comment zeroed out his remaining credibility with me.

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I wonder whether anyone who's been to Devi would like to comment on Bruni's response to the desserts there.

Ha. I believe the dessert comments on the first page of this thread are worth reprising:

...by that time, we were getting quite full and wanted to leave room for dessert.

Good thing because desserts at Devi are phenomenal. We ordered the Mango Cheesecake and the Pineapple Cake with Pineapple Cilantro Sorbet. When we were informed that they were out of the cheesecake, we weren’t terribly disappointed because we had had it at Amma. (It was one of the best cheesecakes we have ever had!) So, instead, we substituted the Kulfi Citrus Soup. And were we glad we had it! Saffron-flavored Indian “ice cream” in a pyramid shape topped with gold leaf (!) sat in a pool of citrus liquid. The rich, creamy kulfi played against the bittersweet, tart soup. Unreal! As for the little cylinder of pineapple cake and the sorbet, as I said to my husband as we scarfed it all down, how can you miss with layers of fresh, finely diced pineapple, whipped cream, and thin disks of cake accompanied by sorbet? Hardly!

Then they brought out one of each dessert on the menu. We pretty much ate them all. I rarely feel that the dessert portion of a meal stands up to the entrees, but these were unbelievable. chai pannacotta, banana flan, kulfi with gold leaf, mango cheesecake, and more. Not everone loved everything, but I was shocked by the range of the beautiful presentations. every bit as good as I've seen at any other restaruant.

By this point we were all quite satisfied, and decided to share just one dessert, the Falooda, which is billed as a sort of Indian sundae. Sweet-toothed Suvir also sent us the pineapple trio and the kulfi. As a nonlover of pineapple, I have to say that it was one of the most brilliant desserts I've ever eaten. Between the layers of poached pineapple, genoise, mascarpone mousse, and "pineapple gello," and the pineapple-cilantro sorbet, AND the slick of cilantro syrup across the plate, I've been converted. The kulfi is another item that just keeps improving -- the texture was smooth and rich, and the citrus balanced perfectly. The falooda was very busy, with two kinds of sorbet, "coconut lemongrass milk," a coconut tuile, and the noodles (which seemed more like tapioca to me, but that's not a negative). I think that is a better dessert to keep to oneself, in order to be able to taste everything in combination with everything else. BTW: Hemant's wife is the one doing the desserts now, along with someone with a not-particularly-South Asian name (which I neglected to write down  :sad: ).

How could I forget that pineapple cake?  Wow.  A number of people said it was the best dessert they'd ever had.

The desserts we had were much better than desserts I've had at other Asian restaurants, which I usually find painfully sweet.  These complex, with mellowed sweetness usually counteracted with a subtle savory spice.

How could you indeed? :biggrin:  The desserts are so unexpectedly au courant, for even an "Indian fusion" place. While as I mentioned, the menu items in general have evolved from very, very good to (in some cases) great, the desserts have moved up at least one full order of magnitude.

As for myself, I've only been to Devi once, but the 'trio of creams' (chai panna cotta, banana flan, and shrikhand (mascarpone, crème fraiche and yogurt with candied grapefruit))--challenging, balanced, and delicious--was perhaps the most memorable part of an exceptional meal. I've long been a holdout in continuing to accord Bruni the benefit of the doubt, but this dessert comment zeroed out his remaining credibility with me.

Excellent, informative post. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I haven't been to Devi yet, but I loved the desserts at Amma. I too wsa shocked by Bruni's statement. Makes one wonder about the chicken and beef dishes he criticized. :hmmm:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Moira Hodgson in The New York Observer gives Devi 2 stars.

Dévi’s Enticing Indian Cuisine: Roadside and Raj-Inspired Delights

"This is kararee bhindi." It was a plate piled with fried okra. "I think you will find it refreshing." Amazing, more like. The okra was cut in thin slivers, deep-fried until crisp, and tossed with onion, tomato and cilantro. It was as addictive as French fries.

And unlike Bruni, she liked the desserts.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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A 2-star rave. I wonder if we should have a thread on Hodgson. I don't get why if she loved the "magical world of Dévi [is that accent right, by the way?]" so much and had complaints only about one thing ("The tandoor yields grilled Jamison Farm lamb chops, soft and tender [but a little too well-done for my taste]," she didn't rate the restaurant higher. I don't know enough about her reviewing to have much sense of what it would have taken for Devi to have gotten 3 stars from her, of for that matter, whether she gives 1 star to other restaurants she raves about.

Thanks for the link, Andrea.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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