Friday, June 22, 2007

Lunch at Nirvana

Though I had promised myself that I wasn't going to eat out this week (given our series of meals out with our guests the other week), today, after a hectic morning, Nirvana (on K between 18th and 19th) was the perfect place to de-stress over lunch, at M's suggestion. Their menu is entirely vegetarian (Indian), and they have an $11.99 lunch buffet (apparently the price was jacked up recently but it was still packed when we went; we had to sit at the bar because there wasn't any room for a party of two at the tables!). Although I wouldn't say that it's the best value (unless you have time to wait in line twice, which we didn't), there were a couple stand-outs in the buffet line up that I would go back for. One of them was a dal that had thick, probably homemade square noodles in it; the dal was spiked with a bit of fresh ginger and had a slightly smoky flavor. I think it's a staple of their buffet because M said they had it last time he was there for lunch. The other was a pakora korma (a first for me); the sauce was decadently creamy and just spicy enough. I got some lemon pickle on the side (can't pass up lemon pickle if they're offering it!) but to be honest I think I still prefer the Priya jarred lime ginger pickle that we used to buy in Seattle at the India-Pak grocery on the Ave before they discontinued it...(that was sad). They also had a biryani that tasted like it was seasoned with 5-spice (so it had kind of a Chinese flavor to it) and contained lima beans, golden raisins, and these hot dog-like veggie things that M liked, to my surprise (he remembered them from the last time he went; this was my first time to Nirvana). We realized too late that the idea was to put all the curries in their own separate containers, thali-style, instead of just using one for the dal. That way, you have more room on your plate for rice! We just dumped everything on the plate and it was a (delicious) mess of raita, palak/saag (spinach), a veg curry, the korma, and several pieces of what looked and tasted like chapathi.

Apparently DC Foodies rated Nirvana's dinner as sub-par in 2004; you can read the review here. It could be that the lunch buffet is the way to go. In the realm of Indian restaurants, that wouldn't be unprecedented...

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