Saravana Bhavan is a pure vegetarian restaurant that is highly unusual for a New York Indian restaurant -- in that it serves cuisine exclusively from (vegetarian) South India. Their chefs come directly from India. They are run by the prestigious Hotel Saravana Bhavan, which is the most popular vegetarian chain in India. You can find more information on their website: http://www.saravanabhavan.com
David Greene happens to love this place. He says, "This restaurant is exquisitely delicious and way out of the ordinary. With its idlies, vadas, many varieties of dosa, spicy rasam soup, and other South Indian specialties, you will experience delectable South Indian vegetarian cuisine that is absent from 97% of other New York Indian restaurants. And Saravana Bhavan is the popular favorite and the critics' favorite of the few South Indian restaurants that do exist in New York."
They serve traditional South Indian fare including many chutneys, lots of rice dishes, and specialized breads. "South Indian chutneys are made of tamarind, coconut, peanuts, lentil, fenugreek seeds, and cilantro. These chutneys are light, more flavored and aromatic, and are the perfect complement to the food they accompany."
The restaurant is located at 81 Lexington Ave on the corner of 26th Street. Closest trains are the N/R at 23rd Street and the 6 at 28th Street. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=81%20Lexington%20Ave+New%20York+NY+10016
Zagat gives Saravana Bhavan a super-high food rating of 25 -- unheard of for a restaurant this inexpensive. Their review: “Heavenly” dosas and other “cheap”, “wonderful vegetarian” dishes elevate this “unassuming” Murray Hill South Indian miles above “your usual curry joint”; “regimented” service and “cafeteria”-like decor don’t deter the “crowds”, so “be prepared to stand in line.” (Note: Saravana Bhavan has renovated and expanded -- to keep up with demand! We have a large reservation, so there will be no problem with seating.)
Here is a quick look at their menu: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/saravanaas/menu
For those of you who have never attended one of our Vegetarian Meetup events, this is an incredibly friendly and welcoming group. To find us: our group will occupy their entire, large second room. It will be easy to find our group, or you can just ask any restaurant staff member for the "meetup".
Also note: there will be only one seating. Please arrive promptly at 7:00pm. Thank you.
-- Rekha (new assistant organizer) and David