Review: The Ayurveda Cafe
by Elena Greco
The Ayurveda Café is my unofficial “office” on the Upper West Side of New York, where I like to meet with friends and colleagues for conversation or business; it’s also a place to relax. It’s pleasant and inexpensive ($10 for lunch, $16 for dinner), serves healthy food, and has special touches that make it one of my very favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Inside the small restaurant are hanging plants (and a humidifier in the winter), a sky-blue ceiling painted with clouds, small ceiling fans painted the same sky-blue color, soothing lighting and soft Indian music playing in the background.
The vegetarian meals are balanced according to Ayurvedic principles, representing all six tastes, and are always healthy. The prix fixe meals come with bread, rice, salad, dal (beans), raita (yogurt), a pakora (fritter) and two vegetables dishes, plus a green (cilantro) and a red (sweet) sauce on the side; dessert is also included. I can’t get enough of the wonderful green sauce and usually ask them for extra. (I must remember to ask them if I could buy a small container to take home with me.) Oh, and they do have beer and wine for those who want to imbibe. I usually go for the mango lassi or spiced tea.
There’s a beautiful Indian chest by the entrance next to a statue of Ganesh; you open its small door to pull a paper fortune out of a basket inside as you leave, so that you take something inspiring with you. Fennel seeds in several varieties (including candied ones!) are in small dishes next to the chest so that you can scoop out a spoonful to support digestion after your meal. One of them has cardamom flavor added to the fennel—yum!