having tried Udupi Palace across the street, i figured i'd give the newly opened Woodlands a try.
there's been a bit of discussion about this chain on the board. talk of some of the best south Indian food in Chicago.
they're new outpost is in Newark. it's all a bit freaky; i grew up in Newark and never anticipated returning to the strip mall by my alma mater in order to feed my food cravings.
it was blazingly hot the day i sampled Woodlands. my appetite had waned. the place was empty. the decor is moderately upscale-- sort of an exercise in earthtones. wicker is the predominant furnishing. the chairs are made of it and under the glass on the tables is more of it. paintings of domestic and kitchen scenes adorn the walls, highlighted by tasteful track lighting.
i wanted to nibble, so i ordered their thali. i realized it would be a fair amount of food, but at least i could sample a number of items. the usual suspects appeared on the thali-- rasam, sambhar, plain rice, papad. the other items consisted of a chickpea/coconut stew, dal made of toovar dal w/cilantro and cumin, turmeric/cauliflower rice, red potato/pea stew w/mustard seed and kari leaf, lime pickle, plain raita, vada, chapati, payasam and two deep-fried piquin chilies.
everything was superb (even in my handicapped state).
the flavors were direct and unmuddled. there wasn't a stinker in the bunch. i couldn't finish practically anything, and the host/server offered to wrap the payasam (sliced almonds, milk and saffron) up for me, citing how delicious it was. i declined, having tasted it and concurring about its deliciousness.
the prices are mid-range. it's a bit cheaper than Dasaprakash but a bit more than Udupi Palace. i wish i'd been hungry or w/a group, for there were an abundance of items i wanted to try. they have addai (a bean and rice pancake-- like a thicker dosa) which i've been longing to try and have never seen previously in a south Indian restaurant-- only read, heard about, or made myself.
i heard mention from the host/server as he spoke w/a coworker about a recently opened San Diego location.
across the way from Woodlands is another south Indian restaurant named Coromandel Curries (this one is not solely vegetarian) and a branch of Tapioca Express. i purchased a bobo, and, in the brutal heat it did wonders.
Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
39203 Cedar Blvd @ Mowry Ave
11:30-2:30/5:30-9:30 (call to check hours)