Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vatica



1475 Terrell Mill Rd., Ste. 105, Marietta, GA http://www.indiagourmet.com/

Remember my review of Raja, the mediocre Indian restaurant on Peachtree Rd. in Atlanta? I promised that I would review some additional, much better Indian restaurants in the future. This is one step towards fulfilling my promise.

Like so many places I love Vatica is situated in a boring, somewhat dilapidated shopping center with nothing to indicate that what’s inside would be otherwise. However, Creative Loafing’s reviewer, Bill Addison, stated that “this is home-style cookin’ like your mama would have made, had she been from Gujarat in Western India.” (http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Atlanta_Restaurants_vatica/GoodEats/Content?oid=oid:54233&contentView=clReview 8/7/02) That was enough to pique my interest.

Eating at Vatica is an interesting, unusual experience for several reasons. For one, thali style meals are hard to find at Indian restaurants in Atlanta. For another thing, the fact that Vatica serves thali means they don’t have a regular menu. Sadhana (the chef) makes delicious, healthy dishes of her own choosing every day from scratch, and that’s what you eat if you dine there, period. Also, it’s one of the best values in the Atlanta area. Lunch is $8 per person, dinner is $12, and it’s all you can eat.

That’s right. A member of the waitstaff will bring you a round, steel tray with five or six bowls filled with selections, as well as naan bread, steamed basmati rice and pappadams. The pappadams are crispy and spicy, ingrained with black peppercorns. For your selections, you can pretty much count on some variety of beans, often in the form of dahl, a hot soup similar to mulligatawny, a couple of curried vegetables and raita, the creamy, cooling yogurt condiment that is commonly served at Indian restaurants. Simply put, it’s like Indian comfort food.

However, Vatica doesn’t make any guarantees about what they’re serving on a daily basis. You come in, sit down, they bring you food and you eat it. Every few minutes an attendant comes around with a cart, ready to refill any of your dishes or supply more bread or rice. If you’re super picky about particular foods or flavors and can’t live without a large menu, Vatica’s probably not for you. However, if you appreciate really awesome Indian food at a great price, you’ll be in heaven.

Dhiru is the house manager. He and his son-in-law man the restaurant’s dining room and take care of the customers. Dhiru is a riot. He’s a small framed, wiry man with thinning white hair. His laugh is contagious and he is famous for teasing his customers. Don't be offended. Just think of him as your incorrigible grandfather.

Verdict: The best Indian food in Marietta.

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