I rarely get the opportunity to go to Restaurant Week lunches, so I was pretty happy to visit Devi on Friday and see what it's all about. I pass by it all the time and the smell of spices waft outside onto 18th street; fortunately on the inside the smell was not overpowering, as it sometimes can be in the realm of Indian food. I would say it was pleasantly pungent. Yes, that seems fitting.
The RW menu was pretty vast, which is not always the case especially with lunch menus, and shockingly enough each of our group (4 people including myself – I guess 5 including my stomach?) ordered something different. We were given fried lotus roots to munch on prior to our appetizers – whatever happened to bread? Or naan, in this case? Either way believe me, with their slightly sweet, salty, crunchy bite, no one was complaining. I would say they are like a hybrid of sweet and regular potato chips with holes in them. They're just so pretty too!
I got the spinach and lentil cakes as my appetizer, and I had a few bites of manchurian cauliflower. The cakes were very crisp on the outside (pan-fried, I imagine), and soft on the inside with a spice I couldn't place. This happens to me a lot with Indian food – I like to think I have a good palette but there's SO many spices used in this cuisine I kind of gave up trying and just assume curry is in everything. Maybe it is. Again, I stopped trying. The cauliflower was yummm – every time I get this Indian staple, it ALWAYS reminds me of Generel Tsao's chicken (which is Chinese) – the smell is the same, and the taste is too. It has that fried, crunchy exterior and slightly sweet and sticky sauce.
How much do I love spinach? Apparently a lot because I ordered it in my main dish too; I got the Murgh Saag, chicken pieces in a mild, creamy spinach-garlic sauce. I say mild because it wasn't overly hot, but it had a lot of spice. Shock. It was really tasty and they gave a nice amount of chicken, which I happily demolished in one sitting. Bigger shock…
With Indian food, I always go for the same dessert: Kulfi. It's a traditional Indian ice cream that isn't whipped like regular ice cream, so it's a much denser, harder ice cream than what you're probably used to. It takes longer to melt too, which they might not be aware of at Devi, because when they brought it out to us I had to chisel at it with my fork. It was good (especially topped with candied pistachios), but I just can't eat a brick of ice cream. They should have put a stick in it and made it into an ice pop.
I really liked Devi; the food was enjoyed by all, and the best part was no one had to deal with their hair smelling like take-out curry for the rest of the day. Score!
8 East 18th St
Opentable Link: Devi