When it comes to vegetarian Indian cooking, there is no more durable franchise than Woodlands. Whether it be Boston, New York, London, Toronto … when you see Woodlands, we know what we are getting. Or at least you know what you are in for. So after visiting a temple in beautiful Lanham, Maryland when the trusty Garmin said Woodlands, it seemed like a good idea. Indeed, after the GPS said Udipi Palace and Madras Palace (and both were closed or didn’t exist) – we were just happy to find one solid candidate.
Anyway, as far decor goes – it is typical South Indian family-type restaurant. A little tacky, not oozing decor but functional. It gave me some comfort from familiarity. (bonus: the placemats had puzzles and brainteasers on them – score!) Like at Saran, I started off with a tomato soup and a salt lassi. The soup was good enough and the salt lassi was a little thinner than what I’d prefer but solid. For an appetizer we ordered onion pakora (basically fritters). The pakora was skillfully done. It was not as warm as one would like (like not seeming super fresh from the fryer – this would be a theme). LG ordered the pongal-avial combo while I had a masala dosa.
The pongal was functional enough – granted, a little more runny than one might prefer but not bad. The dosa I had was not crisp unfortunately and the temperature was not warm. This caused a real problem for me and made it hard to get through. The masala component inside was fine – but surprisingly bland. The blandness was a recurring theme – with all the dishes. I am not sure if this was the chefs gringo-fying the dishes or what – but unfortunately the effect was that it did not jive with my native sort of tastes.
While compared to Saravana Palace this is not too bad – and it is better than Saran – it is really not worth the trek to Takoma Park. Saran is more sensible coming from the other side of the river. Minerva is more sensible still.