Friday, July 31, 2009

Nirvana NYC very average

Had been to Nirvana on Lexington Ave, NYC and here's my review.
Ambience: 7/10 (8/10 for the lounge)
Food: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Verdict: Very average Indian Buffet without veg starters/appetizers.

This place has a very nice bar & lounge on the lower level and a buffet hall with private party room on the upper level.

Ambience & decor of the Bar & Lounge on the lower level is very good. Buffet hall on the upper level are also good with the Private Party room have a skylight - albeit a very dirty one filled with pigeon-do & other dirt ;) When the number of people increases, a few tables placed in the Party room near the entrance are also used to seat other customers. The location of the buffet table is such that queues have to jostle for space & snake around other tables.

Prices are reasonable by NYC standards, but slightly on the higher side. The quality & taste of the food, and the number of items leaves a lot to be desired though. Strangely, there were no vegetarian starters/appetizers in the buffet - they did have some chicken tikka preparation though. Buffet consisted of dahi-vada, three non-veg curries (fish, lamb & chicken), three veg curries (mix veg, palak paneer), daal, peas pulao, kheer, gulab jamun, salad, pickle & chutneys.

The vegetarian items were just about average tasting, the mix veg curry was way below par, but the Sweets were quite good. BEWARE: bowl for desserts is very deceiving - it looks as if it can fit a lot but actually overflows just on the second scoop ;)

Go to Nirvana only if you are close-by, have nothing better to choose from and want to have Indian Lunch Buffet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Veg Biryani

We were returning from work and wanted to have biryani, so thought of checking out Abhiruchi off Green Street on Green Hollow Drive. We ordered Veg Biryani, Idly, Plain Dosa & Buttermilk and requested the Biryani to be made spicy. On this request, we just got an approval nod with a subtle smile.

The reason was not obvious till we got the food - the veg biryani was quite plain & white instead of the spicy yellow-orange color I had expected like the ones available in home of Biryani - Paradise Biryani, Hyderabad. Only then I realized why the waiter was smiling when requested to get "spicy biryani"! I walked up to the manager to ask him if he could do something about this and he asked the same thing to someone who was in the kitchen. After a lot of discussion, he finally informed me that veg biryani is ready made and so its taste cannot be changed at all! The quantity was quite good, easily enough for two people, but it was not at all spicy.

Idly, Dosa & Buttermilk were good as were the accompanying sambhar & chutney. However reputable sources informed me that the Chicken Biryani was quite good. The restaurant itself is quite good, not very crowded as there were many people waiting for take-out orders and it is quite reasonably priced.
Verdict: You can check it out if interested in reasonably priced non-veg biryani in a peaceful dining atmosphere.

We were very hungry after a long 4 hour drive from Washington D.C. so thought of checking out Paradise Biryani Pointe next to Jhupdi/HillTop Apartments on OakTree Road. Due to it's name, the expectations were quite high and more so as it had recently opened up in the former Sukhadia's location.
The Veg Biryani was spicy and yellow-orange color as expected and was really very tasty. The quantity was good, but not as much as that of Abhiruchi. However the service is not as good as the food and places tends to be crowded & noisy. One strange thing was that the waiter gave only one bowl each of salan & raita between all the people on the table! However, he did get us each a separate bowl of both when requested, albeit after quite some waiting time. The prices are slightly towards the higher range, but the taste more than makes up for it! I was informed by my reputable source that the Chicken Biryani here was awesome and one of the best!
Verdict: After a hard day of shopping at Patel & Apna Bazaar, you can have this hyderabadi biryani as the reward!

A couple of weeks later a similar situation arose during our return from a trip to Boston. We were hungry and the taste in our mouth spoiled badly by a coffee we had at Cinnabon in a service area. I am sure that the stalls selling coffee in streets of NYC make much much better coffee. So we decided to check out Dakshin Express on OakTree Road, next to Cittone Institute.
Again I ordered Veg Biryani with a request to make it spicy. The waiter was totally zapped on hearing this and did not respond for a few seconds, then nodded and went away. I started to feel as if this was going to be a re-run of my experience at Abhiruchi, but ho lo behold, this was a bit different! I got the same plain white biryani with a good sprinkling of grated green chillies on it! Now it was my turn to get zapped & freeze for a few seconds!
The place looks quite shabby and not well maintained; the prices are quite low and the food was average. My reputable source informed me that the Chicken Biryani here was quite good too so it is advisable for take-out instead of dine-in.
Verdict: Good for reasonably priced non-veg take-out

This completes (for now ...) my Veg Biryani adventure with Paradise winning it hands-down with a huge margin!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Good stuffed Parathas!

Had been to Khasiyat on OakTree Road in the Sardar Patel Plaza behind Dimples and here's my review. Location is such that it is very easy to miss out as it is on the side facing Middlesex Ave off Oaktree Road.
Ambience: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Verdict: Go there for awesome Stuffed Parathas served on styrofoam plates, 12% flat service charge.

This is a very conveniently located purely vegetarian restaurant, but uses plastic cutlery & styrofoam plates.

The place is known for it's stuffed parathas so we decided to give it a shot - and it was well worth it. We tried the Khasiyat Special Thali with huge Chilly Cheese Parathas and it was awesome. It came with two hot, stuffed parathas right off the tava, one bowl each of special achari paneer, tava veg, kadhi pakora & rice, a small serving of raita and a little pickle & onions. Parathas were quite big and well stuffed - no cost cutting there! We also tried plain Dosa which was also quite good as was the sambhar & green chutney served with it.

Ambience is pretty good but tends to get very noisy as the desi crowds start to fill in as is typical of almost all desi restaurants. The location is also very good but tends to get crowded.

Prices are slightly on the higher side with $6 for a single stuffed paratha, $11 for regular thali (regular parathas) or $13 for special thali (stuffed parathas). However the quality & taste of the food, the service & the ambience more than make up for it. However, at that price, I would expect regular cutlery, not plastic cutlery and styrofoam plates. Also, note that they charge a 12% flat service charge on all dine-in orders.

Go to Khasiyat if you are looking for good stuffed parathas and are ok with eating them in styrofoam plates using plastic cutlery.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mithaas is good for a change

Had been to Mithaas on OakTree Road next to Singas/Mings/Moghul and here's the review.
Ambience: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Verdict: Go there for a change from typical South & North Indian fare.

This is a very conveniently located purely vegetarian restaurant!

This place never ceases to amaze me - it has such a good variety of food available to suit almost all possible tastes! Almost everything we have tried here is very good - Stuffed Parathas, Paneer Kathi Roll, Pav Bhaji, Makke ki Roti Sarson ka Saag, Lassi, etc and my favorite Vegetable Burger which comes with fries & a tasty dip! The couple of things that I did not like were the Thalis which were not up to the mark (most probably because after eating other stuff, my expectations had become quite high) and Rasgollas (most probably my being born & brought up in Calcutta made me have a higher than normal benchmark)! Their chaats are also very good.

Ambience is pretty good but tends to get very noisy as the desi crowds start to fill in. The location is also very good but tends to get crowded, but thankfully there is ample free parking.

Prices are quite reasonable, but slightly on the higher side. However the quality & taste of the food, the service & the ambience more than make up for it. Service is pretty good though some stuff you need to take from the counter and some items are served at your table. They also have a couple of sofas for lounge like seating which is very good for large groups. One gripe I had earlier was that they do not serve water and one had to buy bottled water. But recently they have started to serve water on request only! Another gripe that they have not resolved till now is the minimum $20 charge for accepting Credit Cards.

Go to Mithaas if you are looking for a change from the typical South or North Indian vegetarian food.

Chand Palace good for Buffet only

Had been to Chand Palace on Centennial Ave in the Shop Rite complex (opposite to Walmart) last night and here's the review.
Ambience: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Service: 4/10
Verdict: Go there only if interested in a very good upscale Vegetarian Buffet as they have it for both Lunch & Dinner, 15% flat service charge.

The best part is that this is a very conveniently located purely vegetarian restaurant!

The Buffet menu had a lot of variety of items but we were more interested in a few of the other items that they make but are not a part of the Buffet, so we went in for "a la carte".
The food is absolutely awesome - we have tried Sheekh Kabab, Chilli Paneer, Paneer Vindaloo, Veg Vindaloo, various Kulchas, etc. Only gripe was that this is the first time I saw Veg Kadai being made in a sweet sauce!

Ambience is pretty good but tends to get very noisy as the desi crowds start to fill in. The location is also very good but tends to get crowded due to the adjoining Shop Rite, however there is ample free parking.

The staff generally encourages patrons to go in for the Buffet as they have buffet for Lunch as well as Dinner. Patrons wishing to go for "a la carte" are frowned upon and the resistance / displeasure is clearly visible.

Seating was very fast but the rest of the service was non-existent as the waiters were busing tending to the Buffet related tasks. I had to ask for the complimentary starter "Roasted Papads"; it took well over 15 minutes to get the starters. Even though I had requested a Roti & Raita first so that my child was feeling hungry, it came just a minute before the starters - how long does it take to get this almost ready item???
The waiter kept spilling water, spoon, serving spoon, etc. and I had to ask for a new serving spoon - but no apologies were offered! One waiter took the order and another fulfilled it & was unaware of what he was getting for us. When asked the names of the items he asked us what we had ordered and then pointed them out! He also missed a few items & when we reminded him after a reasonable amount of time, he just shrugged and then got it!

On the other hand, the patrons taking Buffet were being served almost instantaneously and being taken very good care of.

The prices are quite on the higher side in spite of the high quality & tasty food. A gratuity of "15%" is automatically added to the bill whether you want to pay that or not. Also there is a minimum of $7.50 charge per person in case of "a la carte" orders.

For "a la carte", service was absolutley not present and not worthy of even 5% but for the Buffet it was more than worth the 15% they charge automatically.

So, next time when you plan to go to Chand Palace, ensure that you are really very hungry & then go for their Vegetarian Buffet for Lunch or Dinner.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reasonably priced Web Hosting

Recently I discovered two very good, but very reasonably priced Paid webhosting services BlueHost and HostMonster that both provides all the following features (and a lot more):

* Unlimited Data transfer
* Unlimited Disk Space
* PHP5, Perl, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Cron
* cPanel Control Panel
* POP3 & IMAP Email with Webmail access
* Free Domain or Host your own Domain
* FTP Access and Web Based File Manager
* Secure Shell Access
* Unlimited Add-on Domains
* Unlimited Sub-domains
* Unlimited Email Addresses
* 100 MySQL, PostgreSQL Databases
* 24X7 Telephonic Support
* Loads of readily available tools & software
* And a lot lot more ...

I have personally used them to host the websites for my friends and found their support to be absolutely fantastic and really very helpful.

So check out BlueHost - their reviews have been very good and they have also been ranked quite good by many websites that review hosts!

Similar to them is HostMonster - they have also received good reviews and rankings as well.

Best of all, these hosting services are very reasonably priced, especially given the fact that they have a very good in-house 24X7 telephonic support!

"Free" WebHosting!

Recently I discovered a very good FREE webhosting service that provides all the following features:

  • 100 GB/Month data transfer
  • 1500 MB Disk Space
  • PHP5, MySQL, Cron
  • Zend & Curl Enabled
  • cPanel Control Panel
  • POP3 Email with Webmail access
  • Free Subdomain or Host your own Domain
  • FTP Access and Web Based File Manager
  • Instant Setup
  • Absolutely No Ads at all
  • Easy to use Website Builder with over 500 free website templates
  • 5 Add-on Domains
  • 5 Sub-domains
  • 5 Email Addresses
  • 2 MySQL Databases
You can check out the details at 000WebHost

I seriously wonder how they manage to do it without taking any fees or any advertising, but what the heck! It's a darn good service with loads of features and that too for Free!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

JSF2.0 Coming soon

Had been to the NYJavaSig meeting at Sun' office recently where Kito D. Mann (author of the book "JSF in Action") presented the new features of the upcoming JSF2.0 release.
JSF had been long overdue for a rewrite/overhaul and so this is a welcome change with very good features, AJAX support, very easy process for creating widgets/components, very less configuration, etc.
Lets wait & see how the final product turns out to be!


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