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Chennai Woodlands, Ashland

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My wife and I had a nice dinner at Chennai Woodlands on Christmas Eve. Last year we went to Dakshin, but I feel that the food has gone downhill there and the service has deteriorated as well. We usually get Chinese food on Christmas evening (and Taiwan Cafe was very good tonight), so we needed somewhere else that was open and not too far away.

We started with a bhel puri chaat, which was crisp and tasty but not as good as Dakshin's version. The entrees were better. Gobi Manchurian "with gravy" were nicely fried chunks of cauliflower in a slightly spicy sweet and sour sauce with a distinct ketchupy tang - I mean that in a good way. "Special Uppuma" was excellent - tender cream of wheat with chillis, cashews and peas. Imagine a dinnertime oatmeal. House special rava masala dosa was flat, huge and full of a lot of different flavors. I liked it, but I'd love to try some of their other, simpler dosas as well. The menu is totally vegetarian, very South Indian and quite extensive. They appear to offer a pretty substantial buffet for lunch, and each buffet meal comes with a plain or masasla dosa. No alcohol.

On Christmas Eve the place was about 2/3 full, mostly Indian families (many with toddlers and babies) and a few tables of white people. It is in a non-descript strip mall next to a "Hispanic Market and Christian Library," just down the road from a Market Basket not far from the Framingham line. The service was cool but efficient and courteous, and much faster than Dakshin. In terms of decoration and atmosphere Chennai Woodlands makes Taiwan Cafe look like The Federalist. We ate ourselves silly for $30.

A very good meal at a fair price. We'll be back.

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