Note: Devi was re-opened in November 2007.
8 E 18th St, New York, NY
Devi is a restaurant that I had been meaning to dine at for the last two years, but just never gotten around to it. And that’s a shame, because I now feel that I had been missing out all this time. In my estimation its in the very top tier of the best Indian restaurants in New York City and fully deserves all the accolades its been getting in the press and elsewhere.
Devi’s co-Executive Chefs Suvir Saran and the Tandoor savant Hemant Mathur are two people who I have known for several years. Suvir was one of the original managers at eGullet.com and did a tremendous job running the India forum there, until he went off with Hemant and ran the kitchen at Diwan, where eGullet had one of its first official dinner events. Everyone was blown away by that night and I still remember those dishes fondly. After Diwan, Suvir and Hemant went on to open Amma for another group of investors and the restaurant got rave reviews. Along with Rakesh Aggarwal, a new investor, Suvir and Hemant shortly went off to open Devi, finally a place they could call their own, and the rest is history.
On Labor Day five of us were the honored guests of the house at Devi, where we received treatment that would be most appropriate for a maharajah and his family — Hemant prepared us a tasting menu that was above and beyond what a regular diner would get and the staff really put themselves out. We walked out (more like rolled out) afterwards completely blown away by the experience.
I can only recall general descriptions of the dishes at the moment as we didn’t take notes, so I apologize for any inaccuracies — I hope to get exact descriptions from Suvir shortly.
There’s currently a lot of construction occurring on 18th street with scaffolding blocking the view of many of the businesses, so this doorway is unfortunately the only indication of the wonders inside.
Devi is a very warmly lit restaurant which is accented by cool multicolored lamps. You really feel like you’ve travelled to India and you are in the dining room of a royal palace. I regret that I had to use flash for most of the food photographs, because there wasn’t enough ambient light to take photos without — if we had cranked up the lighting any more, it would have ruined the wonderful atmosphere.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see all the Devi photos and comments.
This is the tandoor, the clay oven which is used to cook all the breads and meat items. I took some short video footage of its operation that you can view (click).
Dough for tandoor breads proofing. The puffy thing that looks like a towel on the bottom right is used to apply the breads to the wall of the scorching hot tandoor.
Co-Executive Chef Hemant Mathur, the genius of the tandoor.
The mise en place line in Devi’s kitchen.
Various tandoor meats marinating in sauce.
A plate of prawns with okra waiting at the pass. These make an appearance in our menu later on.
A trio of different Indian-themed cocktails, all formulated by Suvir. From left to right — Mumbai Margarita, Mango Royale, and Soursop Martini. I particularly liked the Mango Royale, although it was probably the most girly drink of all three.
Another cocktail designed by Suvir, the Cilantro Tonic. It’s particularly strong but goes very well with the meal due to its herbal qualities.
This was one of the amuses, a potato cake with tamarind sauce.
This was a Salmon cake with Indian spicing, I remember it having a nice green chile bite to it.
These were a type of pakora, deep fried fritters.
This was one of the favorite dishes of the evening — Orange Marmelade, Shrimp over Tomato Chutney, with Manchurian Cauliflower
Iddly Chaat over a Coriander/Mint chutney.
Tandoori Chicken stuffed with Lamb.
These were two different types of appetizers served over white toast rounds – Veal Brain and Veal Liver Bruschetta.
These were Spinach and Goat Cheese stuffed kulcha flatbreads, which were just amazing.
This is a sweet potato dish, which was so sweet and caramelized that we actually thought it resembled the cuban ripe plantain dish, maduros.
A plate of two different types of samosas, lamb and potato.
A trio of curries, one with parmesan and goats cheese, the other a traditional spinach saag, and the other chopped haricot verts.
Giant Prawns (literally as big as a baby’s foot) with one of Suvir’s signature dishes, fried crispy okra.
Tandoori Lamb Chops with masala potatoes, which we gnawed down to the very last morsel.
We now begin the parade of wonderful desserts made by Hemant’s wife, executive pastry chef Surbhi Sahni — the first is one of her signatures, a pyramid of Saffron Kulfi in a star-anise flavored citrus soup.
Mango cheesecake served with a rosewater almond cookie, mango pate de fruit and mango crisp.
Chocolate Cake accompanied by an intense Strawberry Sorbet.
Two different types of ice creams, a caramel and cardamom/saffron flavor, which I was absolutely addicted to.
Falooda, a type of sorbet cooler incorporating different fruit flavors. Its described as an Indian sundae made with vermicelli, honey-soaked basil seeds, strawberry and mango sorbets, and coconut-lemongrass milk.