New India Grill
1321 Westwood Boulevard
Westwood, CA 90024
So this is what it’s like.
This is what it’s like to be one of them.
This is what it’s like to be one of the Ladies Who Lunch.
This is what it’s like to zen out for two hours in the morning on a yoga mat, spend another two hours to dress to impress no one else but your self, toss the billion dollar Bugaboo in the back of the luxury Suburban Utility Vehicle, buckle in Baby on Board (BoB), twitter for two hours over lunch, shop with a credit card that has your borrowed last name but someone else’s first name on it, get coffee but not actually drink the coffee because it’s after 1 pm, so the caffeine will disrupt my sleep pattern that is wholly dictated by previously mentioned BoB, and then air kiss kiss goodbye to get on the road before the proletariat rush hour.
Gawd, I could get used to this.
I ostensibly “work” from home and my sister hasn’t worked since she had the baby, so pretty much, our careeer success makes our parents proud. It also leave our days completely and totally free to rot our minds on The Internets (me) and other such brain candy like magazines (sister). And to have lunch without time limits.
We lunched at New India Grill (“to lunch” (v.) to eat lunch in a semi-chic place, but if it’s not that ooh-la-la, it’s okay as long as you’re dressed stylishly). It is not my favorite Indian place, but for some reason, my sister loves it. She gets that way. When she likes something, she just won’t go anywhere else, and will proclaim until the day she dies that “her place” is the best. Geez, it must run in the family.
Like every other restaurant whose name includes the word “India,” or “Oven” or “Tandoori,” New India Grill’s lunch is a buffet. Yes, I have whined and ranted about buffets in the past. I have not changed my opinion about help-yourself-to-all-you-can-eat-germs, but I do make an exception for Indian food. Whether curries and other such stewy deliciousness simmer in giant silver vats over a low flame or in a double-wide Smart & Final chafing dish over a Bunsen burner, they are the same. Only the locations are different – one is back in the kitchen and the other is on a makeshift buffet table in the back corner of the dining room. Granted, there is still the issue of germs, but I’m pretty sure that science has proven that spicy foods and curry both kill bacteria. Or maybe they prevent aging. Besides, you don’t really know what goes on behind those swinging double doors anyway. Could be worse than having no sneeze guards.
The specific dishes vary slightly from day to day, but the buffet is always some permutation of: chicken curry, vegetable curry, vegetable, dal, basmati rice, salad, a few chutneys, and raita. Nothing about the food at New India Grill is extraordinary. Curries and dal were flavorful enough in their own right, but nothing was so exceptional that my attention turned away from our lady-like conversation about diaper rash, poop consistency at different stages, and how to get boogers out of a teeny tiny baby nose.
Tandoori chicken and naan are available, but not directly from the buffet. A server walks around the dining room a platter of tandoori chicken, offering pieces to seated diners with tongs. It is, naturally, unnaturally bright red, slightly on the dry side, but easily remedied with a swift plunge into a small bowl of raita. Naan comes to the table in a small basket. The flatbread is thin, charred and chewy, which at one time would have been disappointing to me in my semi-life-long pursuit of thick, fluffy naan, but is now part of my submission to defeat in the quest. Perhaps New India Grill serves the chicken and naan separately, as a service to ensu
re quality – so that the chicken doesn’t dry out on an uncovered burner, and the naan is fresh and hot straight from the tandoori oven. Then again, they may just be trying to control gluttony and waste.
Only one thing deserves special mention, and it isn’t even on the buffet table: the chili pepper pickle in a condiment container on the table. Different restaurants make it at different grades of heat, and while New India Grill’s seemed slightly watered down to suit Westsider palates, it was still fairly spicy. I ate it with everything.
My sister and I lingered for a while over lunch, but of course, though Ladies who Lunch can draw out their meals well into teatime, Ladies with a Baby are under strict limitations as dictated by a nap schedule. On our way out, we very daintily helped ourselves to what I am now quite certain are the origin of Good n Plenty – tiny candy-coated fennel seeds.
Oh, and by the way, if you want to lunch, *she makes the universal signal for call me with her head cocked and hand to ear*. I’m probably, likely, definitely, free.
** a year ago today, a bunny and a kitty kat could feed the hungry **