Tag Archive | Prix Fixe

Vatan Indian Restaurant Offers All You Can Eat Vegetarian Feast in an Authentic Setting!

Table and Menu
All Photos By Gail

One of the most enjoyable parts of dining in an Indian restaurant, especially if you possess an adventurous palate, is the experience of being able to taste many different dishes as part of one meal. If I am looking for an incentive to step beyond the comfort zone of my ‘stand by’ favorites, and the quality of the food is still reputably high, I might check out a place that has unique decor, or that features the dishes of a region or state whose food I haven’t yet tasted — because all Indian cuisine is definitely not the same.

Entry Hall

I was recently offered the opportunity to visit Vatan, a Vegetarian Indian Restaurant in Kips Bay which specializes in Gujarati cuisine. A little bit of Googling told me that Gujarat is a state on the western coastline of India, with a strong influence of Jain culture and philosophy, which explains why Vatan favors purely vegetarian dishes.  Vatan is also distinct for its  prix fixe dinner, which includes a thali-style arrangement (many servings of various foods all served together on a large silver platter) of appetizers and condiments, followed by a thali-style main course array, including bread, followed by dessert. The price is $34 per person and it includes all you can eat of any featured dish from any of the three courses. Exciting!

Left Side of Dining Room with Tree

As soon as you enter Vatan, it is clear that you will be dining in an immersive atmosphere unlike other Indian establishments in Manhattan. Vatan’s cozy main dining area emulates the look of a beautiful open courtyard, so you will almost feel that you are dining outside. There is even a tall, leafy tree in the center of the room, whose branches spread out across the ceiling. If you look closely, up high you will see a couple of monkeys perched among the leaves, ready to playfully pelt you with an orange! Just kidding, of course, but it does look that way!

Monkey in Tree
“Hi, There!”

Interior Courtyard Shot

Interior View with Ganesha

Two seating options are offered for your optimal comfort: you can either remove your shoes and sit cross-legged, or sit western style.

Ganesha

The focal point of the dining room has to be this glowing red monumental figure of Ganesha, the Elephant-headed God who is the Remover of Obstacles. It is really captivating!

Mural Indian Lady

The walls also feature may colorful murals like the one above, which is just outside the kitchen, and the mural  below, which was adjacent to our table.

Dining Room Mural

All of the staff are dressed in beautifully-detailed, traditional costumes, which gives the experience an even more immersive and authentic feel.

Merlot

Our server arrived promptly to take our drink order (beverages are not included the fixed price), and they do have both beer and wine on offer. I ordered a glass of this lovely, full-bodied Merlot, which provided a nice complement to the spicy food. Menus are not really necessary, since Vatan serves a fixed fare (though you can choose a vegan, or gluten-free option), but they do have a few specialty sides, which are available for an additional charge. With the Entree Thali, you also have the choice of your preferred degree of spiciness. I opted for mild (which trust me, was still quite spicy) while my dining companion went with medium spiciness.

Appetizer Thali
Appetizer Thali and Condiments

When our appetizer course arrived, our server took a few moments to describe the ingredients in each dish, as well as brief details of how each was prepared (boiled, fried etc). She even offered suggestions as to which condiments went best with which appetizers, or main course dishes. The service was truly impeccable throughout the meal. Here’s a description of everything on the Appetizer Thali:

Chana Masala (Chickpeas With Onions And Coriander)

Khaman (Puffed Cream Of Wheat Flour Cakes)

Muthia (Steamed Flour With Spinach)

Mirchi Bhajia (Fried Hot Peppers With Garam Masala)

Batatavada (Fried Potato Balls In A Chickpea Flour Batter)

Ragda Patis (Potato Cutlet In A White Bean Sauce)

Sev Puri (Potatoes, Garbanzo Beans, Yogurt, And Chutney Filled In A Crispy Bread)

Samosa (Triangular Savory Pastries Filled With Spicy Potatoes And Green Peas)

Despite what you may be “used to” when dining out, I encourage you to just surrender to this unique experience. You may be tempted to ask for bread and raita (popular cucumber yogurt dip), since many Indian restaurants serve those items with the appetizer course, but sit tight, because that’s coming up.

Appetizer Thali

Detail shot of the Chana Masala (foreground), Muthia (right rear), Khaman (left front ) and Batatavada (left rear).

I enjoyed every dish on my tray, though I did offer my hot pepper to my friend, since I did not want to tempt fate. We were asked if we would like seconds of anything, but not knowing how much food was still coming, we declined.

Entree Thali 1

The Entree Thali arrived next, and it was just as beautiful as the previous tray. Here’s what we ate, as seen in the photo above:

Toor Dal (Boiled Lentils Cooked With Indian Spices)

Bhaji (Sautéed Spinach And Corn)

Ful-Cobi (Cauliflower And Green Peas Sautéed In A Savory Sauce)

Batakanu Sak (Potatoes Cooked In A Mild Red Gravy)

Chole (Chickpeas Cooked With Garam Masala)

Puri/Roti (Puffed Whole Wheat Bread/Whole Wheat Flatbread)

Papadam (Thin Lentil Wafers)

Kheer (Rice Pudding With Dry Fruits)

Aam Rus (Mango Soup)

It is not uncommon in Gujarati cuisine to have both savory and sweet dishes in the same course, such as the entree dishes of Rice Pudding and Mango Soup, which I enjoyed mixing together in a single bite.

Entree Thali 2

The little puffed Puri breads are ideal for holding small bites of food and making little tacos with them. Super tasty, and also, fun!

Rice and Yogurt Soup

Because you are not quite exploding just yet, they also bring you delicious Entree Complements (Seen Above):

Pulao (Boiled White Rice With Peas)

Khichdi (Lentils Mixed With Rice And Assorted Vegetables)

Kadhi (Soup With Yogurt And Chickpea Flour In Authentic Spices), which is similar to Raita, and which we shared for use as a sauce to cool the fire of the spicier dishes.

Roti Plus Two Dishes
Roti Flat Bread

Everything was delicious.

Indian Ice Cream

After a short break to let our food ‘settle’ a bit, it was time for the final Dessert And Chai course, consisting of mango and one other flavor of Homemade Indian Ice Cream, which we split evenly.

Gulub Jamun

There is also Gulab Jamun , a warm Donut Ball in a Sugar and Rose Syrup, which I just added to my ice cream because I thought would be more fun, and it was.

Masala Chai

Masala Chai is a sweet Indian Tea with Cardamom, Ginger and Milk; the perfect ending to a perfect meal. While we were advised that we could have as much as we wanted of everything, frankly, the cumulative portions served were very generous. The fixed price menu is an excellent value and I could not possibly have eaten one more bite. .We really enjoyed our evening at Vatan, and I am looking forward to returning for future visits with new friends!

Indian Lady Artwork

Vatan is Located at 409 3rd Avenue (Between 28th and 29th Streets), in the Kips Bay Neighborhood, New York City. Visit Vatan NY Dot Com for more Information and to Make a Reservation.

Vatan Signage Elephant

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen Offers a 6-Course Tasting To Spice Up Valentine’s Day

Raymi Tables and Bar
All photos Courtesy of EM50 Communications

Nothing says “I Love You” on Valentine’s Day quite like a really amazing meal that you don’t have to cook yourself! Luckily, Raymi Peruvian Kitchen and Chef Erik Ramirez are providing couples the necessary ingredients to spice up their romance with a Peruvian influenced Valentine’s Day. I’ve been to Raymi before and I can tell you, the place is gorgeous and the food is excellent!

Starting at 5:00 PM on the 14th, the Flatiron favorite is offering a six-course tasting menu (in addition to its regular a la carte menu) giving diners an array of options depending on their appetite. The six-course tasting menu ($65 per person) will feature three starters, two main courses and a decadent dessert to share. An additional wine pairing is available for $25 per person to compliment the blended flavors in the vibrant cuisine.

Raymi Ceviche

Each dish at Raymi is created to excite and tempt the palate from the first bite of aphrodisiac oysters all the way through to the rich chocolate dessert. Potential paramours will start with Oysters, followed by Lobster (causa, aji amarillo potato puree, avocado, spicy mayo) and Beets (mizuna, crème fraiche, haucatay, pistachio). For a third course, diners transition to the main courses of Halibut (a lo macho, mussles, shrimp, calamari, aji panca cream sauce) and Braised Short Ribs (seco, cilantro). A decadent chocolate dessert for two will complete the meal on a sweet note.

Raymi Meat Skewer

Every guest who participates in the tasting menu will receive a complimentary glass of champagne to start off the night and a rose will be placed on the table. Further setting the fine mood of the evening, Diners can revel in the romantic melodies of a live band, Christelle Durandy Quartet who will be performing a collection of Latin American genres such as Peruvian Valses, boleros and tangos.

Raymi Cocktail

If six courses is a bit too indulgent, Raymi’s full menu, featuring traditional and modern plates such as hanger steak, prepared in two different ways, seafood with jasmine rice, or the choice of an array of flavorful ceviches and tiraditos, will also be available. At the end of a deliciously romantic evening, every guest will take home a small gift bag containing housemade granola and a card for a free Pisco sour to be used at a later date.

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen is located at 43 West 24th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves). Please call 212-929-1200 for Reservations.

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen Hosts Weekly “Sunday Supper” in NYC

Raymi Signage
All Food Photos By Anne Raso

This past Sunday we made our first visit to Raymi, another one of Richard Sandoval’s gorgeous and amazing restaurants, to dine on an authentic Peruvian feast that is now a regular part of their menu. Available every Sunday and priced very reasonably at just $38 per guest, Sunday Supper, as it’s called, is served family style for easy sharing and offers your party the choice of two appetizers, two main dishes (with appropriate sides) and a choice of one of two desserts (the price of cocktails and soft drinks is not included). Here’s a look at the tempting menu:

Appetizers: Choice of 2

Peruvian Caeser Salad

Peruvian Caesar Salad with Huacatay (a Peruvian herb similar to mint), Almonds, sliced Green Grapes and Croutons with a fresh lime dressing

Ceviche

Ceviche of Corvina, Lime, Red Onion and diced Sweet Potato.

Papas A La Huancaina

Pictured: Papas A La Huancaina

Anticucho: Wooden Skewers of Hanger Steak topped with Aji Panca (spicy red chili paste) and served with Papas A La Huancaina (boiled sliced potatoes in Huancaina sauce).

Jalea Fried Mixed Seafood

Jalea: A mix of bite-sized Fried Seafood including Corvina, Calamari and Shrimp with Salsa Criolla (a popular Peruvian Onion, Pepper & Lime Salsa that you will see on top of several of these dishes) and Peruvian Tartar Sauce

Main Dishes: Choice of 2

Pollo A La Brasa

Pollo A La Brasa: Brined, marinated and Roasted Chicken served on top of Aji Amarillo Rice with Salsa Criolla and Aji Verde.

Lomo Saltada

Lomo Saltado: A home-style stir fry made with Hanger Steak, Soy Sauce, Red Onion and Cherry Tomato with Crispy Fries meant to be served on top of Jasmine Rice

Chicharron Pork

Chicharron: Sizeable chunks of Crispy Pork Shoulder, Salsa Criolla,Roasted Sweet Potato, Spicy Mayo and sweet, feather light, hunks of toasted Potato Bread made on site.

Whole Fried Fish

Whole Fried Fish: Listed as Aji Amarillo on the menu, but the chef told us ours was a Red Snapper, in a light Butter Sauce with Jasmine Rice, Crispy Fried Yuca and Salsa Criolla. The maître d’ will bone the fish table side upon request.

Dessert: Choose 1

Picarones Donut

Picarones: Small Peruvian Fried Doughnuts resting on Chancaca Honey, a reduced can sugar syrup that tastes mildly of anise.

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding topped with rich Toffee, toasted Almonds and scoops of delicious Pear Ice Cream.

Every single item on this menu is beyond delicious, and you can take my word on that, because we tasted it all!

Raymi is Located at 43 W. 24th Street (Between 5th and 6th Avenues), New York, NY 10010. Visit their website at This Link for more information or to make a Reservation.