Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tiffin Wallah

We recently tried Tiffin Wallah at 127 East 28th St in Manhattan a cute and cozy Indian restaurant with plenty of vegan options.

Assorted Tiffins for Two
We had a bunch of friends with us on our trip to Tiffin Wallah, so we decided to get the Assorted Tiffins. This large appetizer consisted of a Vegetable Cutlet, a Samosa, and various Pakora and Bajjia. Or, to state it more generally, it consisted of a whole lot of deep-fried stuff. Now I'm all for deep-fried snacks, but this was the least impressive part of my meal at Tiffin Wallah. The Samosa was good. The cutlet was ok but a little too fried for my taste. The Pakora and Bajjia were a little bland. I'm not saying the Assorted Tiiffin was bad, it was just underwhelming. I'd probably go for the Idli or Batata Vada next time we want appetizers at Tiffin Wallah as Southern Indian cuisine seems to be their specialty. I should mention that a friend of ours ordered the Masala Spiced Cashew Nuts and they were great! -Jim
Mmmmm yeah. Those nuts were nuts! The samosa had a nice flaky outside but actually part of it was weirdly cold. The flavor was good though. The veggie cutlet was spicy and savory. The pakora were the best part. -Ev

Mulligatawny Soup
Ever since the Dosa Diner closed down I've been extra critical of Mulligatawny soups. Few places could match the unpredictable spiciness and bold flavor that DD had. The soup here, while tasty, was the furthest from any mulligatawny soup I've ever tasted. It actually tasted like pumpkin or butternut squash soup. It was a thinnish, orange concoction with a very mellow flavor. It was good, but don't go in expecting any lentil flavor. I should also mention the portion was pretty large. -Ev

Onion Rava Masala Dosa
We've been eating a LOT of dosas lately, but it's been a while since I've had a Rava Dosa, so that's what I chose here. It was good, but it was a little greasy and a little too crispy. Evelyn's dosa didn't have those issues, so I think next time I won't order the Rava Dosa. Besides that it was a good dosa experience though. Tiffin Wallah has Dosa Podi and Achar, two accompaniments that we discovered at (the now tragically closed) Dosa Diner in Jackson Heights. You have to order them seperately for a few extra bucks, but it's definitely worth it! Dosa Podi is a paste of delicious chili ground up in oil, and Achar is ultra-pickley Indian pickles. The potato filling in the dosas at Tiffin Wallah has peas in it, which I'm not a huge fan of, but other than that it's very tasty. -Jim

Mysore Masala Dosa
I've said it a dozen times, but to know me is to know I've never met a dosa I didn't like. However, this was a dosa first for me. The dosa was spiced and cooked to perfection. The texture was so perfect (not greasy) and the flavor was amazing. So much so that I, in fact, would get this Dosa without the potato filling the next time. The potatoes were moist to the point of being watery, and while they were tasty, they didn't mesh well with the dosa and actually took away from its perfection. Who knew this day would come? -Ev

The Bottom Line
Even though some of the items we ordered weren’t so great, I feel like Tiffin Wallah still has plenty of potential. Their (non-Rava) Dosas are good. The décor is nice. The prices are decent. They have all our favorite Dosa accompaniments. And there are a lot of items on the menu that we didn’t try that I would like to try. We’ll be coming here again. And we’ll let you know how it goes! -Jim
The amazingness of the mysore dosa was enough to get me coming back (sans potatoes). I agree that Tiffin has untapped potential and I am up for the tapping. -Ev

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Counter Brunch

We finally checked out Counter located at 105 1st Ave in Manhattan. Counter describes itself as an Organic Wine and Martini Bar / Vegetarian Bistro. We went on a Saturday afternoon so we got a taste of their Brunch menu.

Housemade Bakery Goodies
This dish consisted of a basket of muffins and loaf cake and a selection of spreads to adorn said muffins and loaf cake. It was a really fantastic way to start our brunch. We had Apple Muffins and Poppy Muffins and Banana Loaf, but the stars of this dish weren’t the baked goods but the spreads: Strawberry Butter, Sangria Marmalade and Housemade Nutella. My favorite was the Strawberry Butter, which was sooo creamy and delicious and was great on the muffins. But also fantastic was the nutella spread on the banana loaf, which came dangerously close to being more like a dessert than a breakfast. The best part is that this basket of goodies was only eight bucks, but it was more than enough to satisfactorily start the meal for our party of five. -jim
Word. I think it may have been raspberry butter, but nevertheless, it was tasty and deeelicious. The nutella was incredible. All of it was incredible. Yay food! -ev

Country Breakfast
Ever since the fateful day in Austin when we stumbled into Bouldin Creek, brunches in NY have seemed a little lackluster. But lo! My meal at Counter, while texturally different from BC, had the same fabulous brunch star-quality and scrumptious flavor. The tofu scramble was soft without being a personality-less mush. It was seasoned and salted to perfection. The home fries were sizable and had a great fresh flavor. They were hearty and browned on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. The Merguez soy sausage came curiously on skewers, and while mine were a little mashed, they tasted great. In addition to a nice palate-cleansing side of mesclun, there were thicker-than-average slices of whole wheat toast and (mmmm) more of that soy butter. -Ev

Frittata alla Fiorentina
Ok, so Evelyn just told you all about the Scrambled Tofu and how good it was in her Country Breakfast, right? So imagine this: take that scrambled tofu and put it on top of a bed of spinach and then put those on top of a muffin and then cover it all with a fantastic mushroom hollandaise sauce. Sounds good right? Well my description doesn’t do it justice. This was definitely in my top five, nay, top three vegan brunches of all time. The spinach and muffin gave it a hearty foundation. The tofu scramble was great (as Evelyn explained above). And the hollaindaise sauce was just divine: sharp and rich but not too heavy or overpowering. Also, the presentation was great (I always feel so fancy eating ring-molded food), and the home fries were a nice balance to the richness of the Frittata. This is definitely not the last time I’ll be eating this dish. -Jim

The Bottom Line
After months of friends and veganfriendliers suggesting that we try Counter, I have to say I am very happy we finally did it! Not only was the food delicious but the staff was totally nice (and wonderfully mustachioed). It was really affordable too, considering the quality of the food we got to eat (the entrees were around $9). I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes our regular weekend brunch haunt. Count on Counter for a delicous brunch! -Ev
Counter is a rather fancy, expensive restaurant, so I was ready to drop a fair amount of cash on this meal. But, as Evelyn said, it was only about 9 bucks per dish. And the quality of the food really made it a steal. Also, we don’t know how crowded it is on a Sunday (when most people go out for brunch), but on Saturday afternoon it was nearly empty so we had no trouble getting a table and enjoying a nice, relaxing meal. Great prices + great food + no wait = excitement about getting brunch at Counter more often! -Jim