TL and I were on our way to Chinatown and the Brooklyn Bridge for the afternoon, but while walking around Astoria looking for a new place to eat, we ran across Seva. I had just read the raves on Chowhound a day or two before, but neither of us realized how close the place was to TL's apartment until we walked down a few blocks and there it was. The clean, bright, welcoming restaurant called to us and we didn't resist.
When we sat, we were presented with two thin pappadum crackers, wholly unlike the tough, soggy specimens I had been served at Nirvana. These were delightfully crisp, and the tamarind and mint chutneys served alongside seemed fresher than usual.
We both ordered the lunch special ($8 for soup, entree, rice, and drink, available on weekends too), but tacked on an order of the "bok choy crispy curls"—perfectly fried, nearly greaseless fritters of chopped bok choy in a gram flour batter. It was also served with a killer mint raita; the thick, tangy, slightly sweet yogurt sauce was a great accompaniment to the fritters and to the rest of the meal, too. Also, at a mere $3 for a full plate, this appetizer was a steal.
This was followed by Mulligatawny soup, which in the past I hadn't been fond of. But at Seva, it was completely different; I'm glad it came as part of the lunch special or I would have missed out. It was excellent, really thick and rich, like split pea soup but with Indian spicing. A squeeze of lime gave it a nice tang and I found myself spooning up the entire bowl.
After our dishes were cleared, a pot of basmati rice and a thick, fluffy round of naan (ordered separately) arrived along with our entrees.
The lamb korma (on the right) was lighter than most versions but every bit as flavorful. Same went for the chicken tikka masala. And TL, who doesn't normally do well with lamb, was fine with the mild-tasting meat that was in the korma. The curries seemed fresh and were perfectly spiced, and both of us loved that we didn't feel heavy and leaden after we were done eating.
We spent some time chatting with the pleasant, soft-spoken owner/chef of Seva, who I could tell was really dedicated to his customers and the restaurant. He explained that most of the spices were shipped to him by his mother in India, and that his light touch with ghee and cream in the dishes was intentional. All I can say is, I'm all for it! I left Seva feeling cheerful, which is a sign that I've had some really good eats.
Afterwards, it was on to Chinatown, City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and Coney Island. I don't know about TL, but my satisfaction with Seva lasted me throughout the entire day. By the time we finally made it home we were too tired to do much else besides order from Papa Johns, which under normal circumstances might have been anticlimactic. But with an awesome meal and an awesome day under our belts, neither of us needed anything more to wow us.