Well we went to Devi last night and I must admit the food lived up to the hype. Devi is the Sanskrit word for Goddess. She is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of divinity, and is conceptualized in the Shakta tradition as the driving force without which the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, is impotent.
Devi (the restaurant) was tastefully decorated in earth and wood tones with subdued lighting emanating from colorful globes hanging from the ceiling at different heights. The walls in the upstairs dining area were upholstered in rich fabrics and the space had a generally homey and warm feeling. From the web-site: “Architect Larry Bogdanow integrates elements of home and temple using richly colored Indian textiles and beautifully carved wooden architectural elements to create a sumptuous setting.” The décor is about as far removed from dangling jalapeno lights which festoon many of the6th Street Indian joints as one can imagine. During the course of our hour-long meal the two level restaurant slowly filled up with beautiful people, although the noise level remained subdued.
The restaurant week offerings generally came from the regular menu, although there were a couple of exceptions, and the portions were more than adequate although I would recommend ordering one other item and maybe a bread to round out the meal. We started with a complementary amuse bouche; a spicy potato croquette in a Tamarind sauce. For my appetizer I had the Lamb-Stuffed Tandoori Chicken which was tender dark meat chicken stuffed with ground lamb, spinach and goat cheese and served with a tasty tomato chutney. Presentation was artful and the sauce was a perfect complement to the spicing on the chicken. Mrs. Patriot had some kind of potato based croquette, the name eludes me. It was tasty enough but was too close in flavor to the amuse and not too distinctive from something you could find elsewhere in the City. Main courses were Tandoor-Grilled Lamb Chops with pear chutney and curry leaf potatoes, also reportedly excellent (Mrs. P wouldn’t let me get a fork anywhere near them) and a Farm-Raised Andhra Chicken Curry, moist and flavorful but not at all fiery, served with a timbale of gently spiced rice. What curry sauce remained on my plate was greedily sopped up by a side order of Onion-Parmigiano Kulcha ($5), an idea which came off quite nicely although the cheese is perhaps a bit too piquant an ingredient for inclusion in a bread who’s principal role at the meal is to act as a vehicle for orphan sauces. Not that it wasn’t delicious though.
Our other foray into the regular menu was a well executed Kararee Bhindi, a crispy tangy okra salad, with tomatoes and red onions. The tomato and red onions were raw and they served as a perfect foil to the salty/spicy/crunchiness of the thinly sliced deep-fried okra. The texture of the salad almost reminded me of the Vietnamese dish Mee-Grob Lard-Na and the flavor was spicy and addictive.
For desert we both had the The Emperor’s Morsel, a crispy saffron bread pudding topped with cardamom cream and candied almonds. This was probably the best Indian dessert I have ever had. The pancake/cream combination was reminiscent of a Belgian waffle and made for a most satisfying conclusion to the meal.
The total for two ordering from the Restaurant Week Menu and adding on for the bread, Okra salad and one unmemorable glass of Pinot Noir came to a reasonable (for Manhattan) $106 before tip. Service was attentive, if perfunctory, and the pace of the meal a bit brisk, but during this week its not really fair to hold the waiters to the same standards as the rest of the year. Highly recommended.