Photos here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2011/11/i...
FINALLY. There's genuinely great dosa in Greenwich Village! I've been waiting for it for years. As much as I like Thiru's NY Dosas cart -- previously the *only* option for dosa in Greenwich Village, outside of my own kitchen -- Thiru's dosas and vada have never been in any danger of being the best in this city. Enter Indian Creperie, a tiny, narrow, newish restaurant on the south side of Bleecker St., between MacDougal and Sixth Ave.
This fast and friendly little place offers traditional dosas (plain, masala, Mysore masala) and traditional idli, vada and utthapam, as well as a few unusual options -- or ones I'm not used to seeing, at least: Kerala beef dosa, Amul brand cheese dosa (described as being "stuffed with Indian cheddar"), chicken chettinad dosa, and shrimp chili dosa.
At a recent meal -- my third since it opened a month or two ago; clearly I like the place! -- my dining companion and I had my usual: medu vada and masala dosa. The freshly fried vada were soft, not overly greasy, fluffy without being insubstantial, and nicely seasoned with curry leaves and chili.
Dosas -- even the non-paper dosas -- were gorgeously thin, hardly greasy at all, and filled with a fairly well made standard issue masala filling of potatoes, channa dal, onion, dried red peppers, mustard seed.
The sambar served with both the vada and dosa was surprisingly good, not overly thick with toor dal as it was the first time I had it by delivery. Indian Creperie's house recipe doesn't seem to include much tamarind, but it does consistently include drumstick vegetables (a.k.a. moringa), carrots, potatoes and I think a bit of tomato. I don't really like or eat much coconut chutney or spicy tomato chutney, which also come with vada and dosa orders, but from what I've tried, the versions here seem to be standard issue. I think most fast-food type Indian restaurants buy the same frozen coconut chutney and doctor it to greater or lesser degrees. Saravanaa's adds a tadka of fried curry leaves, red chilis, black mustard seed and sometimes urad dal. Indian Creperie doesn't seem to add anything except possibly black mustard seed.
So the question all NYC south Indian food fanatics must be wondering: Is Indian Creperie better than Saravanaa Bhavan, that well loved international chain and standard bearer of south Indian cuisine in NYC? Yes and no. The dosas, themselves, are better, or at least more to my taste. I occasionally have slightly burnt dosas at Saravanaa, a kitchen that isn't as open or small scale as Indian Creperie's. Indian Creperie hasn't served me a burnt dosa, yet, and they are thin, well balanced and less greasy than Saravanaa's (or Tiffin Walla's or Pongol's). Vada are more traditional (slightly denser) than Saravanaa's, which has gone the airy, light Tiffin Wallah route, and they very well made, while sambar at the two restaurants is usually about on par. I must say that Saravanaa's has the masala filling that's more to my personal tastes (and less Brahmin friendly), with a higher ratio of browned, flavorful onion, coriander leaves and other add-ins.
Whatever slight edge Saravanaa's might have is completely irrelevant for my purposes, though. It's not in Greenwich Village and a short walk from home for me; Indian Creperie is. I suspect I'll be doing more than my fair share to keep this wonderful new restaurant open.
81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016
127 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016
413 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
190 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012