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Indian Creperie in Greenwich Village

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Photos here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2011/11/i...

FINALLY. There's genuinely great dosa in Greenwich Village! I've been waiting for it for years. As much as I like Thiru's NY Dosas cart -- previously the *only* option for dosa in Greenwich Village, outside of my own kitchen -- Thiru's dosas and vada have never been in any danger of being the best in this city. Enter Indian Creperie, a tiny, narrow, newish restaurant on the south side of Bleecker St., between MacDougal and Sixth Ave.

This fast and friendly little place offers traditional dosas (plain, masala, Mysore masala) and traditional idli, vada and utthapam, as well as a few unusual options -- or ones I'm not used to seeing, at least: Kerala beef dosa, Amul brand cheese dosa (described as being "stuffed with Indian cheddar"), chicken chettinad dosa, and shrimp chili dosa.

At a recent meal -- my third since it opened a month or two ago; clearly I like the place! -- my dining companion and I had my usual: medu vada and masala dosa. The freshly fried vada were soft, not overly greasy, fluffy without being insubstantial, and nicely seasoned with curry leaves and chili.

Dosas -- even the non-paper dosas -- were gorgeously thin, hardly greasy at all, and filled with a fairly well made standard issue masala filling of potatoes, channa dal, onion, dried red peppers, mustard seed.

The sambar served with both the vada and dosa was surprisingly good, not overly thick with toor dal as it was the first time I had it by delivery. Indian Creperie's house recipe doesn't seem to include much tamarind, but it does consistently include drumstick vegetables (a.k.a. moringa), carrots, potatoes and I think a bit of tomato. I don't really like or eat much coconut chutney or spicy tomato chutney, which also come with vada and dosa orders, but from what I've tried, the versions here seem to be standard issue. I think most fast-food type Indian restaurants buy the same frozen coconut chutney and doctor it to greater or lesser degrees. Saravanaa's adds a tadka of fried curry leaves, red chilis, black mustard seed and sometimes urad dal. Indian Creperie doesn't seem to add anything except possibly black mustard seed.

So the question all NYC south Indian food fanatics must be wondering: Is Indian Creperie better than Saravanaa Bhavan, that well loved international chain and standard bearer of south Indian cuisine in NYC? Yes and no. The dosas, themselves, are better, or at least more to my taste. I occasionally have slightly burnt dosas at Saravanaa, a kitchen that isn't as open or small scale as Indian Creperie's. Indian Creperie hasn't served me a burnt dosa, yet, and they are thin, well balanced and less greasy than Saravanaa's (or Tiffin Walla's or Pongol's). Vada are more traditional (slightly denser) than Saravanaa's, which has gone the airy, light Tiffin Wallah route, and they very well made, while sambar at the two restaurants is usually about on par. I must say that Saravanaa's has the masala filling that's more to my personal tastes (and less Brahmin friendly), with a higher ratio of browned, flavorful onion, coriander leaves and other add-ins.

Whatever slight edge Saravanaa's might have is completely irrelevant for my purposes, though. It's not in Greenwich Village and a short walk from home for me; Indian Creperie is. I suspect I'll be doing more than my fair share to keep this wonderful new restaurant open.

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Saravanaas
81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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

Saravanaa Bhavan
413 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

Indian Creperie
190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. This is good news. You seem very familiar with Indian food, as with other foods, so you may know this but "Amul" cheese is a very popular brand of processed cheese in India, often (and possibly only) canned. It's one of these childhood taste things.

    As a curiosity, have you eaten at Saravana Bhavan lately? I was there about three weeks ago and the medhu wada I had was appalling, as were the sambhar and chutney. The wada had all the texture of compressed cottonwool, but a little less taste. The coconut chutney was absolutely flat. The sambhar was a bit better only in that you could perhaps identify that that was what it was trying to be.

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    Saravanaas
    81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    3 Replies
    1. re: FoodDabbler

      I have had the misfortune of trying Amul cheese products, before, but none that tasted even remotely like cheddar. Of course they don't really taste all that much like cheese, either. :)

      I was at Saravanaa Bhavan just last week for dinner (paper masala dosa and idli/vada). The food was good on my visit, but I completely understand your reservations. I have definitely had bad meals there, including everything from slightly burned dosa to dosa fillings and chutneys made with badly burned tadka). It sounds like you might've gotten a reheated vada, unfortunately. Lots of people eat them reheated or even cold at home, but that's not really what you ought to be getting in a restaurant.

      I can't speak to the coconut chutney or sambar, since I haven't had anything that horrible at Saravanaas. The sambar's usually pretty good in my experience and I don't tend to eat more chutney than whatever adheres to a single dip of vada or idli. I'm not a huge fan of coconut chutney, except when it's made with fresh coconut.

      Anyway, yes, Saravanaas is unfortunately way too much about luck of the draw. I think I've identified something of a pattern, but I'm not sure: It seems to be better to me at weekday dinners, but not as good on weekends, esp. during the breakfast and lunch rush. I'm not sure about weekday lunchtime since I don't think I've ever been, then. Mind if I ask when you went?

      Since I think you're in the neighborhood, too, go give Indian Creperie a try sometime. The younger (Hyderabadi) fellow who works the counter on weekends is super nice and based on my three meals, the food is great. I'm not sure you'll be impressed with the coconut chutney, here, either, but at least it's thick!

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      Saravanaas
      81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

      Saravanaa Bhavan
      413 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

      Indian Creperie
      190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

      1. re: michelleats

        I went there at about 4 p.m. on a Wednesday. I was in the area, and wanted a small snack. I have had better meals there in the past, and the medhu wada I got surprised me. You're probably right that the time of day was a factor.

        I have to try this Creperie place.

        What you say of Amul "cheese" is right on target.

      2. re: FoodDabbler

        I can personally attest that Amul cheese comes in a variety of non-canned options (including half kg bricks, and the ever popular individually foiled serving sizes). It doesnt taste any better if it is packaged in different ways - I agree with FoodDabbler that its probably a childhood taste thing - though if you are someone who likes cheez food slices or the spray can abominations, it may be to your taste.

      3. Agreed, the dosas here are very good. Had the Onion Chile Rava Masala Dosa. I much prefer the filling here, but Sarvannas may have the edge on the Rava Dosa. But both are very satisfying. I actually thought the coconut chutney was better here, sambar a toss up.

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        Indian Creperie
        190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

        1 Reply
        1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

          I'm glad you had a chance to try it, Davy! Another frequent (read: near daily) dosa consumer told me he really liked the coconut chutney at India Creperie a lot, too. I guess the reason why I don't think the sambar's that great is because it doesn't include many different kinds of vegetables and it isn't as acidic as I prefer it (not enough tamarind or tomatoes), so to me, it reads as bland. The sambar I've had at Saravanaa's has been a bit more complex.

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          Saravanaas
          81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016