Dévi is the home of artful forms of Pan-Indian cuisine created by two Indian super chefs and co-founders, Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur (who has since left to open his own restaurant – Tulsi).
Over the years, Devi has managed to create quite a buzz as being one of the “it” Indian restaurants in New York City. Its one of those hot Indian food spots one goes to where you get (and pay for) more than an “Indian buffet’ experience.
The chefs are certainly masters of their craft but the food to me was temperamental. Some dishes were stunners like the Tandoori Prawns with crispy okra salad, the Tandoor Grilled Halibut and the Corn Chaat.
Other dishes were just confusing combinations of foods that just should not be on a plate together like the Chicken Manchurian served with Tamarind Rice and Stir-Fried Green Beans. The vegetables were delicious on this plate but the chicken manchurian was just an over ketchuped, saucy mess and the tamarind rice barely had a wisp of tang to it (I grew up in southern India and really know my tamarind rice).
In my opinion, the most basic dishes are their weakest link.
I don’t suggest ordering things like the Bombay bhelpuri, which was very nicely presented but lacked punch or the chicken tikka masala, which had no depth.
They do however make a decent Paneer Makhni if you are craving a really rich, traditionally flavored dish.
But, one doesn’t go to Devi to eat this kind of standard fare. If you are looking for a culinary adventure then order up the more unusual dishes like the Kararee Bhindi which is okra crisps, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon or the Halibut or the Tandoori Lamb Chops which is paired with a Pear chutney.
Presentation of the food was spotty. Some dishes came out looking rather artistic while other were just sort of slopped onto a plate and brought out. The desserts were clear winners in this category – both in taste and presentation they were all dazzling. I loved the creative spin-offs on traditional Indian desserts.
Kudos to the pastry chef!
Aesthetically, I think Devi misses the mark. There are too many mismatched Indian artistic elements in the room that just don’t work together. The effect though is warm but in sharp contrast our server was confusingly distant and cold.
I have to say that overall I really did enjoy my experience at Devi. I’m admittedly a very harsh “Indian” food critic, as I grew up surrounded by the best of this cuisine. But there is something different about Devi – something really endearing!
Here is some of what we ate:
Trio of Samosas with potato-peas, goat cheese-spinach, turkey-mint
Salmon and Crab Croquettes with Green Chili Pickle Mayo
Tandoor Grilled Halibut, sweet and sour butternut squash, tomato rasam, bitter melon crisps
Tandoori Prawns with Crispy Okra Salad, Eggplant Chutney
Manchurian Chicken with Tamarind Rice and Beans Poriyal
Chicken Tikka Masala
Pistachio Kulfi candied pistachio, falooda noodles, rose milk
Mango Panna Cotta mango-passion fruit sauce, fleur de sel, mango chips
Black Forest Cake, Macerated cherries, cherry gelee, grated chocolate, dark chocolate sauce
MY RATINGS FOR THIS MEAL
I recommend: Tandoor Grilled Halibut , Tandoori Prawns with crispy okra salad, Mango Panna Cotta
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