Art of the Lunch Deal »

Prix-fixe lunches in New York.

The Art of the Lunch Deal: Devi

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Devi

8 East 18th Street, New York NY 10003; map); 212-691-1300; devinyc.com
Service: Solid
Setting: A pleasant room with the feel of an Eastern caravan
Compare to:Tamarind, Tabla
Cost:3 courses, $24.07

When I moved here from the United Kingdom many years ago, I have to admit that, despite the wonder of almost all of the food that I ate in New York, I was somewhat disappointed by the Indian fare here. Sure, there was the thriving Indian restaurant scene of 6th Street, but the places were all low-priced carbon copies of each other, focusing bang for the buck rather than spice and flavor. While England back then had a terrible culinary reputation, no one could deny that it had some of the finest Indian cuisine outside of India. Of course this was long before Tabla, Tamarind, and, more recently, Devi opened their doors, elevating Indian cuisine. I have found excellent deals at Tamarind and Tabla at lunch; I wondered how Devi would measure up.

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The complimentary poppadoms were excellent—crispy and spicy. The naan, on the other hand was rather dense, and had an awful lot of butter on it.

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Things got off swimmingly with the seafood and crab croquettes. A crisp, perfectly cooked crust gave way to a flaky, tender inner core. The pickled-green-chile mayo added creaminess and heat to the proceedings.

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The $24 price wasn't quite justified by the Tandoor-grilled lamb chops. I was asked how I wanted them cooked and I ordered them rare. It was a mistake—the two chops were so slim that the naan bread that accompanied the dish was thicker. The kitchen got the internal temperature right, but at the cost of an unappealing gray exterior with nary a hint of char. Frankly, they were just far too small although the supporting cast of pear chutney and curry leaf potatoes were both tasty.

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But the Indian ice cream with candied pistachio in a hibiscus scented citrus soup made for a sweet ending to the meal.

In and of itself, the $24.07 deal is fair for the food one gets at Devi, although I would not recommend the lamb chops. But Devi does not compare favorably to the Indian lunch deals available at Tamarind and Tabla—which offer slightly more refined execution and larger portions for the exact same price.

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