There isn’t anything in New York quite like Anita Jaisinghani's Pondicheri, writes Pete Wells in his latest review. For one thing, because of Pondicheri’s more casual setting, the restaurant doesn't have to compete with higher-end Indian restaurants like Paowalla, Tamarind, and Indian Accent. The Times critic also notes that the Flatiron restaurant is ideal for so many occasions, from a morning breakfast meeting filled with pastries, to a multi-course dinner. Here is Wells on some of his morning favorites:
When I wanted to have breakfast alone, I’d go to the front counter and ask for a cup of masala chai. Pondicheri makes it smooth and strong, with more than a whisper of spice. Then I’d find a table where I could eat the wonderful aloo paratha with my hands, loving the way the crisp shell collided with the soft potatoes inside, feeling the mustard oil rake the back of my throat, licking the ghee from my fingers. Or I might get the masala eggs, firmly scrambled with fennel, onions, peppers and spices, and then spread out over a wedge of spiced carrot paratha.
Other morning offerings like beet uttapam (egg-topped tangy pancake), do well during the lunch hour, a time Wells says is the best to "take Pondicheri’s full measure." He explains:
The snacks and side dishes that become available after 11 a.m. are exciting, too. I can’t remember a meat samosa that I liked better than the ones that Pondicheri fills with lentils and goat braised in spices. Papdi chaat, a plate of semolina crackers and lentil dumplings buried under yogurt and chutney, is completely messy and a joy to eat.
The lamb skewers fall flat, but ultimately the dinner spread is just as impressive. And while the staff can be lukewarm, Wells finds this trait more charming than off-putting. He gives Pondicheri two stars.