We had made plans as early as Thursday to go back to our favorite French bistro in the West Village, A.O.C., now one of our favorite dinner venues. (Read my original post here.) But it had been raining in New York all day, and although we had the car, we still would’ve had to walk from who knows where we will get a parking space to the restaurant. So we both made up our minds to eat somewhere in Midtown so we didn’t have to worry about parking. (Alan has a parking spot in one of the garages in the city..) It was a toss up between Indian Food and Thai, and the former won out.
There’s a cozy Indian restaurant called CAFE SPICE on 55th street between Fifth and Sixth, one of a several branches of authentic Indian food we’ve been going to for a while now. As I’ve often said here, we gauge the authenticity or reputation of a restaurant serving regional cuisine by the absence or presence of people of the same ethnicity as the food being served. If you don’t see people of the same ethnicity as the food, chances are, the food has been Americanized or tweaked to satisfy the Western palate, which means sacrificing it’s original flavor. This is not the case in Cafe Spice.
Although their dishes are named in the vernacular, there are descriptions which can help one navigate through the menu without ending up with something too far off from what you imagined when you went through the dishes listed. We started with their somosa, a delectable pastry filled with vegetables and served up with a very spicy sauce which includes a dab of curry, and a shrimp appetizer I failed to get the name of. Both were delectable and were a good combination. Appetizers are usually single servings.
I had hoped to get the lamb chops at A.O.C., so I was really happy that Cafe Spice serves up their own Lamb Chops grilled on the tandoor. Alan had Shrimp Vindaloo. I have developed a taste for cheese naan, specially here at the restaurant because the cheese they use home made cottage cheese. (They have a fastfood outlet at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City in Long Island and there the cheese naan uses cheddar.) You also have a choice of having your main dish as a simple entree and you can pair it with the various sides available, or go have it as a platter which means a cup of lentil thick soup, a vegetable side, a piece of naan and basmati rice. I swapped my basmati rice for another slice of naan, and Alan had his full platter. Great meal..!
The head waiter even approached us and asked if we were Filipino, and he revealed to us that his wife was Filipina from Marilao, Bulacan, and that he had a 6-year-old daughter studying back home. He was very friendly and he started talking in a way that made you feel he was happy considering himself part Filipino already. Alan and I engaged him in conversation and told him about our recent homecoming, too. A good meal, a chance encounter with an “almost” Pinoy, and an early ride home through the weekend commuting traffic..
I enjoy these dates Alan and I have because it’s our “couple” time — much like the times we go home together on the bus, just him and me, catching up on work, the latest on friends, enjoying a private chat. At home, we have to go through a different dynamic because we have to factor in the grandmas, the stepson, and the baby. Looking forward to the next time..