Restaurant Review: Ayurveda Cafe

Last night, I met my friends Shaina and Sharon for dinner at The Ayurveda Cafe, a vegetarian Indian restaurant on the Upper West Side. I first met Shaina and Sharon about two years ago when we all happened to be on the same Birthright Israel trip. (Have you heard of Birthright Israel?? If you have any Jewish in you, you are eligible to go on an all-expenses-paid 10-day trip to Israel — amaaaaazing.) I asked the waitress to take a picture of us at the restaurant, but we looked cold and tired, so I thought a peek at our Israeli adventures would be better.

Shaina and me riding a camel

Shaina and me riding a camel

Sharon and me on our tour bus

Sharon and me on our tour bus

Anyway, the three of us went to this lovely restaurant last night. From the restaurant’s webpage: “Ayurveda is very clear when it comes to food. Sattvic (pure) food is needed to heal and maintain good health and must incorporate six tastes in every meal: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. At Ayurveda Cafe we believe food cooked and served with compassion adds a powerful value to the dining experience. That power may be invisible to the human eye but it can be felt by you.”

Doesn’t it sound exciting already? Not to mention that those six tastes came all bundled together in the one dinner option, a fixed priced meal for $14 that included an appetizer, two vegetable entrees, lentils, bread, basmati or brown rice, salad, raita and dessert. Oh, and I forgot to mention that everything is unlimitied. Yes, they do free refills!

Since the menu is fixed price and changes daily, the proper names for the dishes are not listed. The only thing I can label for sure when it comes to Indian food is chicken tikka masala, so I will let the photos do the talking. Feel free to jump in if you know something official!

Our appetizer was these standard crackerish pieces:img_1608

With assorted herb-y, sweet, and onion-y chutneys:


I had one of the crackers with lots of each dip.

Here’s my dinner plate. Look at all the tastes!

black bean samosa-ish nugget and brown rice

back: yogurt raita and salad; center: sweet root vegetable stew?, salty/spicy potato stew?, lentils; front: black bean samosa-ish nugget and brown rice

I ate half the rice (probably about 3/4 of a cup) and everything pictured (though I ate around the potatoes in the middle dish). I took advantage of the free refills to get another salad and raita.

Dessert was a sweetened mash of chickpea flour called besan halwa. It tasted a little peanutty and had the grainy kind of texture that I love. I obviously opted for seconds on this, too:

bowl one

bowl one

bowl two

bowl two

And, of course, Indian food isn’t Indian food without the tray of “birdseed”:


I had several spoonfuls of these:


And then made myself a tasting dish (or two) of everything:


I brought home those cardamom pods (top center) for experimenting because I LOVE cardamom but have only used it in its ground form. I’ll have to look into what I can do with them:


Also, a little box with a “take one” message sat on what I’ll refer to as the restaurant’s “ambience table”:

the tall thing behind the tray of birdseed is the box

the tall thing behind the tray of birdseed is the box

Inside the box were tons of paper fortune strips. Tell me mine doesn’t sound distressingly ominous: “A fear that captures our whole attention generates the repetition of negative images and affirmations. It holds within it the power to materialise itself into reality.”

Scary fortune aside, I left the restaurant feeling full of (ok, stuffed with) healthy and compassionate foods. And I stayed within my weekly entertainment budget of $20! I am officially a fan of The Ayurveda Cafe.

3 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Ayurveda Cafe

  1. mom says:

    Sar-I loved the pix of all those seeds! The candy coated ones have always been my favorite,tho thefennel seeds mixed in are so great as breath sweetener and digestive aid. We just went out to the Indian Bazaar(local grocery shop that carries middle eastern food) and got some ground cardamom,after agonizing about whether weshould spring for the more expensive,more labor-intensive green pods. Hadn’t realized that the pods are preferred for the more authentic Indian cooking(looked them up online). How coincidental that you picture them 2 days later! Love,Mom


  2. Sharon Feder says:

    Sarah, this was such a great restaurant choice. I was so happy to experience it with you and Shaina (I love that you posted our pictures from Israel, too).

    I believe the cracker appetizer you’re referring to is papadum – one of my favorite snacks to munch on along with mango chutney 😉

    Your pictures came out absolutely beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing a follow-up post on what you do with the cardamom.


  3. wontgetfooledagain says:

    I thought the food was definitely a great deal. I mean in the city 14 bucks for all you can eat, yummy Indian food, you can’t really go wrong.

    The pic of the candy is wonderful, and my favorite.

    As a vegetarian, I liked the food. It was so nice to eat everything and not have to worry or feel left out… like I usually do as a lonely vegetarian… although Sharon is one too, so I suppose my “loneliness” is unjustified.

    Can’t wait to get more rec’s and see you again!


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