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Pre-concert Indian w/the family plus a little baggage

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I need a little help finding an Indian restaurant. I started by just appending this to another indian chain but as I started typing it got unwieldy. But I have spent the last few hours searching, promise.

A five person family dinner has suddenly become a seven person family get together including one very limited budget (who we don't want to feel uncomfortable) and one who will eat fish but no shellfish or meat plus 2+ foodies. My dad and his brothers will be heading to Dark Star Orchestra near Irving after, so we are planning to eat early and need not to stress dad about time (he goes there easily).

At this point dad and I have concluded that Indian is probably best. The goal is to do this as inexpensively as possible without bumming out the people who are looking forward to a good meal and have high expectations, but I think $35-40 per person would be the max (including tax, tip and prob one drink per person). The higher end Indian restaurants are out, given our price range. As far as the less expensive "Curry Hill" restaurants, I've only eaten at Curry Hill which was fine (although I read one person here describe it as dirty, maybe my eyes were closed). I have read the boards a ton but am having trouble figuring out what is best at this point (maybe some were better several yrs ago?)

Current candidates are Chennai Garden, Saravanaas, Tiffin Wallah and Dhaba. Biggest concerns besides budget 1) mentions of slow service at Saravanaas 2) not into the idea of a buffet (unsure whether this is only a lunch issue) 3) assuming no reservations necessary but maybe I'm wrong 4) being able to comfortably/easily seat a large group 5) While Saravanaas seems to make sense because its vegetarian, I'd prefer not to limit everyone else in that way, if possible.

Thanks so much, sorry for the long post.

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Saravanaas
81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

Tiffin Wallah
127 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016

Chennai Garden
129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016

Dhaba
108 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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  1. The buffets are only during lunch. My two favorites are Saravanaas and Dhaba.

    I haven't noticed the slow service at Saravanaas but it does have a tendency to get crowded, so if they don't take reservations, it may be tough to get a large table. Dhaba, even though smaller, does take reservations, so it might be your best bet. Its a bit more expensive than the rest, although not appreciably so. They also have lots of options for a vegetarian and actually my favorite dish is a vegetarian dish, paneer kali mirch (spicy dish with paneer). you can easily get out of there for under $40 per person.

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    Saravanaas
    81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    1. Dhaba is the best of that bunch, and they take reservations. I think you should definitely make a reservation for a party of 7. The person who eats only fish will have no problem at Dhaba at all.

      1. Bhojan is the vegetarian sister of Dhaba, a couple of doors down from it. In my opinion the food is tastier there. Dishes that are on both menus, Bhojan's and Dhaba's -- pani puri, for example -- are executed better at Bhojan. On 3rd there's also Vatan, with a more festive feel. (See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/703891 for a Vatan-Bhojan comparison.)

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        Vatan
        409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

        Bhojan
        102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

        4 Replies
        1. re: FoodDabbler

          The food at Vatan is really not that good.

          The OP doesn't want to impose a vegetarian restaurant on the whole group, so Dhaba makes the most sense. Plenty of options for a vegetarian.

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          Vatan
          409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            No Indian food in Manhattan is "that good". But I've written at length of my experiences at Vatan and I stand by my overall assessment that it's better than Bhojan, which in turn is better than Dhaba (which I've found mediocre).

            I'm aware of what the OP said. In my view decentish vegetarian food trumps so-so non-veg, but the OP will make her own decisions.

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            Vatan
            409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

            Bhojan
            102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

          2. re: FoodDabbler

            The food at Bhojan is very good, but delivery is unreliable and their management is rude. I placed an order an hour and a half ago -- the food still isn't here. I phoned twice, and would have settled for an apology or some other attempt to make it right. Instead, I was treated abruptly and rudely. As a New Yorker, I'm not unfamiliar with rudeness. But rude and inept is a combination I can't accept.

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            Bhojan
            102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

            1. re: tanno

              You're right not to. I've not had delivery from them, so can't comment on that.

          3. Thanks so much for the great, quick feedback! I'm leaving toward Dhaba b/c of reservations and the non-vegetarian factor. Thanks again!

            3 Replies
            1. re: lucyj

              If your father can stand being a further 11-12 blocks away, there's also Nirvana at 39th and Lex. It has decent veg. and non-veg options and has a much nicer feel than Dhaba. Tables are not prevented from being unsteady there, for example, by dirty, folded paper napkins as many are at Dhaba.

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              Nirvana
              346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

              1. re: lucyj

                I think Dhaba does sound like your best bet. The other restaurants you mentioned are vegetarian and if you are pressed for time, Saravanaas is going to be tricky. Their service is hardly what I would call prompt. IIRC, though, a 7-person party would need to be seated at the tables in the center of the restaurant, which I found somewhat cramped as there was limited walking space behind my chair for waiters passing to-and-fro. For a larger party, I might consider Bhatti, which is lower key and just down the block -- though I cannot vouch for their vegetarian dishes.

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                Saravanaas
                81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                Bhatti
                100 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                1. re: JungMann

                  Great, thanks again to everyone!

              2. I recently ate at Nirvana in Curry HIll. Great food, warm service, pleasant environment, Indian people eating there! Try it!
                Margi

                1 Reply
                1. re: Haricotsv2

                  Thanks, I considered it, but because it's a little more expensive and a little further away it would I'm not sure it's best this time around. But, will keep in mind for the future.