Tonight I and some local media folk had dinner and a lively discussion of the ouster of CSO music director Daniel Barenboim at Mysore Woodlands, a favorite spot of mine for Southern Indian cuisine.
Wine bag in hand I walked the seven blocks from home on this almost temperate February night.
The joint being nearly empty we selected a table near the window and I immediately cracked open a bottle of 2002 Dr. L Riesling (this is Loosen's new low priced offering from the Mosel) fresh and fragrant was this simple, off dry quaffer.
We started with "Chilly (sic) pakora" a long, green, medium spicy pepper dipped in a besun flour batter and deep fried. It came with the very standard, reddish tamarind sauce, green chili yogurt cilantro sauce, a fabulous fresh coconut chutney which looked to have had a few black mustard seeds floating in it and an unctuous green chili and onion chutney as smooth as mayonaise and hotter than Hyderabad in July.
Next up, "kancheepuram iddly" which is somewhat of a house specialty, steamed rice flour pancakes with cashews, carrots and coriander. The iddly had just enough chew with haunting spice notes, they were also served with the same chutney line up.
The third appetizer was ""dhai vada" lentil donut floating in a cool yogurt sauce. A wonderful dish.
As entrees started coming we opened two more bottles, Pierre Sparr "Alsace One" a cheap and cheerful blend, that was a little lacking in acid and not as bright as the Dr. L; and a bottle of rich and smoky 2001 Archery Summit "Premier Cuvee" Oregon Pinot Noir which proved to be a worthy foil for some of the dishes to follow.
Next, "Malabar Adai" a large crispy, Kerali style pancake made from lentil flour, vegetables and grated coconut served with a greenish, chunky, cooked coconut and onion chutney.
The two dishes to follow were served together, "Mysore masala dosai" a thin rice flour crepe stuffed with turmeric scented potatoes and onions atop spicy pepper chutney -- this too received the same chutney choices with the addition of "sambar" a gingery, soup like, yellow split pea concoction with bits of eggplant and onions floating in it and a small bowl of peppery, cucumber & tomato raita. The last entree was "Kadai Bhindi Curry" very unctuous and rich Madras style okra, tomatoes, onions and a copious amount of ghee. The Oregon Pinot played very nicely with it's new sub-continental friends.
The breads were a picture perfect, crispy edged, whole wheat paratha and a humongous, puffy, fried batura.
For dessert we had "Madras Special Payasam" not unlike kheer, but this being vermicelli, raisins and cashews floating in a warm, honey sweetened, saffron scented milk....and "Badam Halwa", a warm paste of butter honey and almonds.
Service as always was friendly (actually jovial) and extremely helpful as one of my guests had never eaten Indian food before (strange but true).
The bill for three people for more food than we could possibly finish was just under $50!!!!!
My only small issue, the assumption that we didn't want our food "flamingly spicy" it was definitely toned down for American tastes.....it could have been mo' hotter, but couldn't be mo' better.
2548 Devon Ave.