72 University Place
212-253-6999, free delivery
There are disadvantages to ordering takeout Indian. You miss out on two of the city’s best haute Indian restaurants — Tamarind and Devi (Tamarind will deliver, but it’s oh so expensive). You also can’t partake in the Indian lunch buffet, that balancing act between expanding your knowledge of Indian dishes and eating yourself into a naan-induced stupor. Sadly, if you order from Café Spice, the food is not good enough to make you forget what you’re missing.
The Masala Dosa’s ($11.95) rice-flour crepe tasted so strongly of fried oil, it overpowered the low spice of the lamb filling. The accompanying Sambhar (tomato chutney), was a dead ringer for Campbell’s Vegetable Soup. The other dish was a marked improvement. Marinated in yogurt, cheese, and cashew paste, the succulent chicken cubes of Malai Kebab ($16.95) were excellent with basmati rice or fluffy, warm Naan ($2.25). Lunch entrees are served with raita (yogurt sauce), and dinner platters with lentils. I prefer the slightly sour raita, but both are good.
Cafe Spice’s delivery service is crisply professional and their food is adequate. I would infinitely prefer dinner at Devi or a leisurely Sunday afternoon at my local Indian buffet, but in a pinch, Café Spice will do.
283 Bleecker St
As the weather turns brisk, I become impatient to enjoy an Indian feast in my overheated apartment. But attempting to place my thrice-repeated order with an unhurried Ghandi Café employee tipped me off that curry in a hurry, this was not.
An hour later, I was sampling auburn-tinged Assorted Indian Hors d’Oeuvres ($4.10), one each of Samosa Bhujja, Banana Pakora, and Eggplant Pakora — all deep, deep fried (aka delicious). The Banana Pakora, a Bananas Foster/funnel cake hybrid, was the standout. The others were routine delivery fare, boosted by well-made, possibly homemade, chutneys. The main courses were underwhelming in comparison. The few white chunks in my Shag Ponir’s yellowish creamed spinach were curiously reminiscent of spongy, unflavored tofu rather than firm, delicate cheese ($6.95). The Bombay Chicken’s ($7.50) “medium curry sauce” didn’t even register on the spice meter, making it unmemorable aside from a whole, hard-boiled egg bobbing among the tender chunks of chicken, like some cruel “which came last” joke. Neither dish was improved by overcooked rice, rubbery Paratha ($1.95) or under-fried Poori ($1.95). Perhaps I should begin a non-violent protest against the quantity of Indian delivery options that lack quality in my neighborhood.