Saravana Bhavan – Upper West Side, NYC

Earlier this year, when the daffodils were blooming and the kids had their spring break, we ventured out to spend a day in the Museum of Natural History. It was also a day when we discovered Saravana Bhavan.

 We have avoided doing too much of the city museums until recently, just not organized enough to get our act together. The kids are however finally a good age to enjoy some of what the museums has to offer. It is important for us to fit some of this into our weekend schedule. So inspired by the wonderful weather we headed into the city.

After three hours of wandering through the exhibits we decided it was time for food. One of the things that I strongly feel is that while museum restaurants are serviceable and will get you an adequate and possibly overpriced meal, it really is a shame to waste a mealtime in the city without trying something unique. We had initially set our sights on Sarabeth’s however en-route spotted Saravana Bhawan. This restaurant is theWest Side branch of theLexington Ave restaurant whose parent is inIndiathereby lending claim to being the real thing! The cuisine is from the Udipi region in Southern India and the fare is what is collectively called tiffin and tends to be the ultimate Sunday Brunch for most Indians. Actually, I should preface this, the restaurant has vegetarian meal options and a wonderful collection of tiffin offerings, which tends to be the prefered choice for brunch.

I tend to get my fill of this since I get into the city for work, but my for my husband this is fairly unique, and his rather greedy glances lured us in.

The kids tend to like this fare as well so we went into a very busy and bustling restaurant. This pretty clearly meant slow service. On a beautiful spring day sitting outdoors, the only downside to this was two hungry children, who kept staring at everyone’s food. On the bright side none of the usual coaxing was needed when the food arrived.

We pretty much ended up ordering half their menu, including some unusual items such as the adai with avial (a unique south Indian mixed vegetable curry from Kerela). The coffee, that is also a sweet India style latte is a regional favorite. The food was served in traditional stainless steel multi-compartmental plates and tasted fresh and consistently good. The prices were reasonable, although a little higher than their downtown counterpart possibly to cover the overheads for this upscale part of town. Interesting finishing touches included two to three well spiced chutneys. The restaurant is Kosher and the menu is also chock full of vegan options and is vegetarian.

There were a few coarse stops such as a dessert order getting mixed up and the waitress spilling a tray full of food, which to their credit was very promptly and effectively cleared up. So, maybe Sunday mornings might not be their best service day, the food certainly is as good as it gets in a rather pleasant and authentic styled setting.

If the test of a restaurant is an overall satisfying experience, this restaurant certainly complied.

 Sarawan Bhawan

413 Amsterdam Ave,

Manhattan, NY 10024

  Phone: (212) 721-7755




Saravanaa Bhavan (Vegetarian) on Urbanspoon

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