Indian in the E. 50's (Ada, Chola, Amma, Dawat, Mint, et al)?
Are any of these places worth it? They seem much more expensive than our stand-bys in Gramercy (Chennai Garden, Pongal), the couple of places we like in the East Village, and certainly Jackson Heights (we live in Queens). I've always been curious about the "higher-end" places in the E. 50's - are they remarkably better, or maybe just a little better and a lot more expensive, or none of the above?
Dawat has seen better days. Chola is quite good.
Here's what I wrote about Chola's buffet:
The block of 58th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenue is home to at least four Indian restaurants, the stalwart Dawat being the oldest of the group. The buffet lunch I had at Chola last month was far superior to my recent Dawat dinner. Chola is a multiregional restaurant, and the $13.95 lunch buffet is copious. In addition to the self-serve items, the waiters bring freshly cooked tandoori chicken, dosas, naan and chickpea-onion pakodas to the table. They likely vary the buffet table items daily, but there were about four or five each of vegetarian and non-veg (as they say in India). Among the most interesting items were a Kerala-style fish dish and pau bhajee, a Mumbai street specialty of spiced mashed potatoes and lentils traditionally served on western-style buns slathered with ghee. I passed on the buns and the ghee.
I wrote about a disappointing Dawat dinner (and a great one at Devi)in the following:
I also agree that Dawat isn't that good. Overpriced ($6 for plain rice!!) with uninspired cooking and timid flavoring. I am going to Chola tomorrow so I'll know by then - at least its buffet quality.
Ada is pricy too, and I only been there once, but I went for its lunch special, which is a great deal. The food was very fresh and everything complement together well. I would definitely go back there if I had time on weekdays.
I agree that it's hard to find stellar Indian in Manhattan. They serve too many generic dishes for my taste. I much prefer real home cooking. Now that's good stuff.
I was at Dawat a few months ago and wasn't particularly impressed. I admit that most of the time when I want Indian I go to Brick Lane or somewhere on 6th ave since it's closer to me, so I guess I can't say I'm particularly experienced. I thought the food was better prepared/presented and had a better flavor, but not all THAT much better. I would be interested to hear other's opinions who have more experience than me. Thoughts?
I used to frequent Ada years ago, back when I used to spend more time in that 'hood. I can't speak to its recent state, but back then the food was absolutely delicious (if overpriced)... I liked the modern atmosphere, though we were almost always the only ones there, and the service was attentive and gracious, if a little bit formal.
Chola did not seem as fancy, nor as expensive, but the food was very good.
I'd be curious to know what more up-to-date diners think.
You might be better off leaving the neighborhood and heading to Devi.
I'm ebarrassed to say this, but I have yet to find a non-fancy Indian joint (in this city, anyway) whose food rises above "pretty good. "