I often go to Chaat Cafe on University Ave. because I like their dal, and their lunch specials are affordable and tasty -- but sometimes I'm not too pleased with the supersonic speed with which the tandoori wraps arrive from the kitchen, and many of their dishes have the same key notes in the spicing.
So I decided to give Udupi Palace, just across the street, a go. It was a hot day demanding South Indian cuisine. What a treat. Dining partner ordered the thali, which presented a delightful array of small, wonderfully-spiced bowls of various tasty curries, rice dishes, spicy soup, sambar, etc. and included rice, a pappadom, a poori, and dessert. The "curd" (tasted like thick homemade yogurt) was light and creamy and sour and contrasted perfectly with the complex, warming spices.
I had a dish of lentils and rice, which was adorned with a fragrant, fried karhi leaf and studded with various vegetables: green beans, cauliflower florets, carrots, etc. It was a VERY large portion and was accompanied by a poppadum -- the real treats were the chappathis, which had excellent flavor (I have grown to prefer them to naan).
Coconut, creamy rice, yogurt, karhi leaves, cilantro -- these were the flavors in which we delighted. The manager was very friendly and asked us how we were enjoying our meal as well as translating a few of the dishes for us. Yum yum yum. I can't believe this place isn't more full, more often. I suppose it's a bit more unusual than the old standbys of chicken tikka masala, sweet fluffy naan, and stewlike veggie curry. Now that Athithi has sadly bid its goodbyes (I loved the owner -- I'd tell her my mood and the state of my digestion, and she'd recommend the perfect dish), I will be returning to Udupi Palace again and again and again.