Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to Mango Grove

I was in Columbia the other day, and decided to stop by one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants, Mango Grove. I've been here before, and in general I liked it (one semi-famous commenter did not, though she was later called out on it). I liked it enough to return for their $10 lunch buffet. At about noon, it was only moderately busy, unlike the dozens upon dozens of unlucky bastards waiting half an hour or more to go through the drive-thrus at McDonald's, Wendy's and Chick-Fil-A. Efficient, indeed.

Just a reminder: this restaurant, which specifically offers many Southern Indian dishes (dosas, idli, etc), will fill you up. Also, it will easily remind you (pace PETA) that eating vegetarian does not necessarily keep you from gaining weight. You could easily gain weight off this wonderful food. Just a few excellent things that popped out for me:

  • the idli is tangy, but unlike other idlis I've had at area buffets, this black lentil and rice cake didn't have the funky taste I've found with others. It was a great complement to the channa dishes on the buffet, which came with their own oily fried puffed breads.
  • I don't remember if aloo gobhi was on the buffet, but I ate something like it. Filling and delicious.
  • Don't knock their various chutneys. My favorite was the tamarind chutney, which tasted almost like a very tangy barbecue sauce - in a good way. Close behind was a coconut milk chutney that was wonderful on the various breads I had on my plate.
  • They had two types of basmati rice on the buffet: plain and lemon. Go with the lemon. It's light enough to not overpower, but strong enough that you will taste it.
  • Also, their papadums are some of the most delicately-spiced (though deceptively sturdy) I've ever found at an Indian buffet.
  • The waiter brought out a complementary dosa with a lentil filling. The texture was a little dry but it still had a lovely flavor.
So there's another endorsement for an inexpensive, filling and meatless (I didn't say not fattening) Indian buffet. Please, people, dispense with the 30 minute wait at Wendy's, chick-Fil-A and Micky D's. By the time you get in and out of the buffet (or the one at the attached and very much not meatless Mirchi Wok) you would've gotten through the drive-thru anyway.