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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Indian Flatiron Moderate Great

Devi is easy to miss. I walk down that block often, and I had not noticed it until the other night when someone opened the door, letting the scent of cardamom, chiles, cumin, and cinnamon float out onto the dark cold sidewalk like a warm ray of lost sunlight. It stopped me in my tracks. I peered inside and spied a mesmerizing, sari-clothed room—an Indian temple as restaurant. I had discovered Devi.

While I hadn’t actually seen Devi, I had heard about it. My friend Heather has known the chef, Suvir, for years, and she raved about his cooking. We decided it was time too see what all the fuss was about, and since Heather is working on opening her own Indian joint—Lassi—in the beginning of ’05, we went on a mission to eat and learn.

Devi (pronounced Davey, as in Crocket) is a partnership between co-chefs Suvir Saran (co-author of Indian Home Cooking, recently released by Clarkson Potter) and Hemant Mathur, a tandor master who most recently worked with Suvir at Amma. They have created a restaurant with a Spice Market feel, though not on as grand a scale of course. I would say it is the Pier One Imports version of Spice Market. There are bright jewel-colored silks hanging on the walls, ancient carved wood doors, a Scarlet O’Hara worthy staircase—all effecting a sultry Indian vibe.

As good New Yorkers, we saddled up to the bar before dinner for a cocktail to take the edge off the day. Julia Martin, the bartender who created the impressive list of spiced libations, should be watched. She is courageous and talented. Her list includes the Ambika—Grey Goose L'Orange, mango and blood orange puree served up and garnished with an orange cognac soaked mango slice ($12), the Maharani—a classic Belvedere martini with a splash of saffron infusion and a twist of orange ($14), and Autumn's Torch—Hennessey V.S. Cognac, La Lieutenance Liqueur d'Orange, Lebanese almond syrup, fresh lemon juice, splashed with Syrah, served on the rocks, garnished with cognac soaked cherries ($13). Julia’s cocktails are brilliant for two reasons—first because they integrate the bar with the kitchen, and second because they taste great (and third because there is not a pomegranate martini to be found; pomegranate has become as ubiquitous as the green apple.) But be warned. These may look like girly drinks, but they pack a wallop of booze into your system. Sip slowly.

After nibbl ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Flatiron :
+ Suenos   + Amuse-- Closed   + Dos Caminos   + Lucy-- Closed   + Gramercy Taver   + Veritas   + Fleur De Sel   + Bolo -- CLosed   + City Bakery   + Shake Shack   + Kalustyan's Cafe   + Devi   + BLT Fish   + Sugarcane   + BLT Prime   + Barca 18-- CLOSED   + Beppe   + Barbounia   + Boqueria   + Eleven Madison   + Lonesome Dove-- CLOSED   + Hill Country   + Olana   + Wildwood   + Primehouse   + Allegretti   + Bar Breton   + Aldea   + SD26 by Bao Ong   + ABC Kitchen   + Ciano   + The NoMad   

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