Ethnic.City: Madras Woodlands

posted on November 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm

The service at Madras Woodlands (2201 Lawrenceville Highway, 404-248-9333) is achingly slow. My friend and I, who have both traveled to India, joke that waiting for our order feels just like being there. Bursts of people — mostly office workers on their lunch breaks — enter the restaurant and sit down, only to jump back up in an instant to hit the expansive buffet, a better option than ordering from the menu if you’re pressed for time. On this visit (and my next) I forgo the buffet because the menu, which reads like a greatest hits of all Indian sub-cuisines, is just too enticing to pass up. There is something to be said for a place where everyone, carnivore and vegetarian alike, can find something they want.

There’s a large selection of chaat (Indian snack food) items to choose from and all of the dishes I’ve sampled have been well-executed. A towering bowl of bhel puri (puffed rice with chopped tomatoes, raw yellow onion and cilantro) is dressed with a tangy tamarind dressing that slightly wilts each football-shaped morsel without making it soggy. The brightness of the sauce and chopped raw produce prevent the dish from feeling too heavy. Medhu vadal look like doughnuts, but these deceptive circles of fried fun aren’t anything like their sweet cousins. They’re savory, lentil-based crunch monsters, but still airy and almost creamy on the inside. The dish comes with a light lentil stew for dipping that’s reminiscent of your mom’s vegetable soup.

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