HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >


New Indian Restaurant coming to DT Raleigh

As reported by Andrea Weigl of N&O...


The menu looks huge and tasty.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm so excited about this new restaurant, Mantra.

    You've gotta love this quote from the article:

    "I decided to open in downtown Raleigh because there are no Indian restaurants and people love Indian food," Rawat said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cackalackie

      Well it is sorta true. I mean there isn't anything smack downtown. There was a restaurant that tried, but it just sorta fizzled. This guy has the pedigree to establish one and keep it going. I just like the menu is very expansive and really seems to have something for everyone... (as far as Indian Food goes).

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        It *is* true. I think it made me laugh because it's so true.There are no Indian restaurants and everyone loves Indian food! And yes - it sounds like it will be very interesting indeed!

    2. The chef is coming from Saffron in Chapel Hill, which got 4.5 stars in Greg Cox recent review. That's on of the highest ratings he's ever given to any restaurant.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bbqme

        Right and I just like that menu seems a bit more wide ranging than most of the other local Indian places. Plus this chef has been around.

        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          Actually this chef worked with the chef that's been around (Durga Prashad).

      2. Does anyone have any updates as to when Mantra will be opening? The menu looks incredible.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Erika RollerGirl

          Thats what I said and I think I saw the sign somewhere near The Power Plant on Jones Street near Oyster House.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            It's right next to Napper Tandy's. Used to be a martini bar.

            1. re: cackalackie

              Right.. Napper Tandy's name was escaping me at the time. Do you know if they built it out or how large it could be?

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                I never went there when it was the martini bar, but I went there once when it was a cocktail bar later. I recall it being a decent size.

        2. So, is it open? has anyone been there yet? Love to hear a report before I venture.

          2 Replies
          1. re: normanc

            Apparently it is open and that is all I can answer.

            1. re: normanc

              Here's a link to a review by one of the area food bloggers that I read:


            2. Went to lunch at Mantra prior to the NC State v. FSU game today (How 'bout them Noles!). It's the second weekend of their doing a lunch buffet so that's what we went for. Choices were a best salad I've seen at a restaurant buffet or otherwise, black dal, about 10 veg dishes, kulcha, fried fish, curry chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, lamb curry, raita, tamarind and cilantro chutnies, pappardams, and carrot halwa for dessert. They also bring freshly baked naan to the table. I quite enjoyed the food. Not afraid with their spicing, flavors varied between North and South India. Nothing was particularly spicy but there was a nice, slow building of heat that livened the tongue. For $12 it's a spectacular bargain!

              1. Not sure what happened this weekend but we didn't enjoy the buffet at Mantra at all, the hot dishes were cold and the golub jamun had a distinct rancid taste. The salad and naan were good.

                FWIW I ate weekday buffet at Sai Krishna Bhavan out near 540 and 54 a few weeks ago...former Udupi owner there, and the food was quite good. Looking forward to trying this again before too long.

                1. Ate at Mantra for lunch last Saturday and it was delicious. They dropped their weekend buffet in favor of an "executive lunch" and this was its first day on the menu. The exec. lunch was choice of 3 dishes from lunch menu, and it came with naan, rice, salad, chutneys, dessert - all for $24.95 for 2. Choice of seasoning ranged from mild to "indian hot". We chose 2 dishes at medium and one at hot and all three were great - paneer kadai, chicken chetta...., lamb vindaloo. As at all "good" Indian restaurants, each dish was distinctively seasoned and felt freshly prepared. All in all, can't wait to go back despite erratic service because they had gotten reviewed the day before and hadn't properly estimated the staffing. The chef was out in the restaurant from time to time and was approachable - something that's always a good sign. Comparable to food I've had in NY, SF, London and elsewhere. I'll be back....

                  1. Bumping the thread up since it seems that no one has been to Mantra lately...

                    We had dinner there tonight and sat outside because the weather was so beautiful. We were brought a basket of rice flour - rather than lentil - pappadums and 3 chutneys, a tamarind sauce, a mint-cilantro chutney, and a cucumber-carrot raita. The raita was very thin and neither it nor the mint chutney had assertive flavors. The tamarind sauce had an odd mineral-like/molasses-y quality to it. We ordered samosas, three to an order and generously sized. The filling had a nice kick to it and was quite good, but the dough was about twice as thick as it should have been and fairly greasy. No additional chutney was brought with them and we had to ask for more.

                    When we ordered the entrees we were asked whether we wanted them "mild, medium, hot, or Indian hot." I'm always concerned when a waitperson asks how hot I want a dish. I want the dish the way that it's supposed to be prepared, how else? Do you ever get asked how spicy you want your Fettuccine Alfredo? So how is this different? Anyhow, we asked for the Lamb Vindaloo to be "Indian hot" and the Chicken Chettinad to be "hot." We also ordered a paratha. The food came out in a reasonable amount of time and the flavor of both dishes was well balanced and quite tasty. However - we both felt that the "hot" chettinad was distinctly medium and the "Indian hot" vindaloo was perhaps medium and a half. The waitstaff seemed surprised that we found the spice level to be much lower than advertised but we overheard a diner two tables over tell the waiter the exact same thing. To repeat, though, the food still had great flavor.

                    The service is somewhat inconsistent. Four waiters covered the five tables around us and two seemed to be operating on the premise that none of the diners were at all familiar with Indian food. We didn't even know there were specials available until we heard them read off to another table after we had ordered. No prices were mentioned. We listened to another diner complain over a protracted period of time that her mixed drink didn't taste right. Finally, finally the waitress acknowledged that the bartender had prepared the wrong drink. Water glasses were refilled regularly, but the water was nearly warm each time.

                    Most of the tables around us, including us, were using Living Social coupons or Groupons. One waiter gave his table a serious hassle about using the coupon before checking with the manager and ultimately accepting it. Another table had some discussion with their waitress about it and 2 others were accepted without question.

                    Which leads to the prices. Two of us ran up a $46 tab, excluding the alcohol, taxes, and tip. Less the $20 coupon, the meal was $26. We estimated that the meal was worth about $30. The food was most certainly good but it is overpriced.

                    D R C: Sai Krishna Bhavan is my favorite Indian restaurant in the area right now. I've had dinner there a few times and they deserve to keep getting more business. I just wish there were a parallel restaurant that served meat. Sometimes I need my goat!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: rockycat

                      rockycat; Cholanad has goat. They call it mutton on the menu but the chef told me it's goat.

                      1. re: Rory

                        They call it mutton, but it's goat? Wow, wonder what theyb rest of the dishes are comprised of?

                        1. re: fredb2548

                          no, it's not deceptive, that's the norm for Tamil dishes.

                          1. re: Rory

                            They will get called on that sooner or later. Mutton has a certain gaminess that goat doesn't have-- which is why I prefer goat. I'm not even sure where you would get mutton in the Triangle.

                            1. re: Rory

                              Please explain - calling one item by a completely different name seems deceptive, even if they "think" the customer may not care for the named item. It's one thing if the menu lists mutton and they inform the diner that goat is being substituted. How does Tamil relate to irregularities in menu listings?

                              1. re: meatn3

                                In South India, the English culinary term 'Mutton" refers equally to goat and lamb. Here http://tamilnadurecipes.com/2010/02/1...

                                This is an Indian Tamil restaurant and references their culinary terms, not U.S. ones, I cook a lot from these blogs & know this; if you think it is deceptive to Americans, just inform the chef in a polite fashion.

                                1. re: Rory

                                  Thank you for the additional information. Your brief comment above now makes more sense. It was not clear that this was a linguistic issue. I suspect I am not alone in not knowing Tamil culinary terms - they should consider placing a note of explanation on the menu to avoid misunderstandings.

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    oops sorry, I've been told I'm rather too terse. English terms for Indian cuisine can also be regional, what may work for the North won't be so for the South as well.

                                    1. re: Rory

                                      No problem. Linguistics are fascinating and this was a good thing to learn!

                        2. re: rockycat

                          Went back for dinner this week - the lunch is a superior buy. Prices at dinner are a bit high and all the waitstaff seemed new (we knew more about Indian food than they did). That said, I agree about the sauces with the papadums but their dishes are very tasty, less oily than most and the naan was great. Will come for lunch one more time before making my final pronouncement.