Clean vegetarian Indian restaurant for two
Hello! My husband and I want to hit a vegetarian Indian restaurant in NYC, preferably below 30th Street. We eat Indian about twice a year, so we are not hard core with the cuisine. My head is spinning with all the reviews of Madras Cafe, Saravanaas, etc - what would you suggest that is clean and has a bit of ambience? I am pretty simple - good bread, some dahl, maybe a nice biranyi, and a few other basic dishes that are well executed. Thanks!
These three restaurants are clean, Indian vegetarian places with good food, below 30th St., ranked in my order of preference for the food:
I generally eat dosai, vada, iddli, and avial at S. Indian places, so food rankings are based mostly on those (+ sambar and chutneys, acompanying).
In terms of the ambiance, I would rank Pongol first, Chennai Garden Second, and Saravanna's third. Pongol is attractively decorated in a modern-y style, with dim lighting. Chennai Garden has white tablecloths, bright lights and looks a little schlocky, frankly -- like a low brow interpretation of what a nice restaurant should look like. Saravanna's is cafeteria-like, with fluorescent lights and zero ambiance.
There is a great Indian restaurant on 22nd and park called Tamarind. Although it is not vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. It is a little more upscale than the others in the area. If you are looking for something strictly vegetarian, Vatan is always a good choice.