Cheap Eats 2007: Rangoli
Comments () | Published July 13, 2007
Cheap Eats 2010

Address: 24995 Riding Plaza, Suite 120, Chantilly, VA 20152
Phone: 703-957-4900
Neighborhood: Chantilly/Centreville/Clifton
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Indian
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30, Saturday and Sunday noon to 3. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5 to 10:30, Sunday 5 to 9:30.
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Medhu vada; palak paneer; aloo gobhi; chicken chettinad; dosas with spicy potatoes; chaat papri; kati rolls; fruit jalebi.
Price Details: Starters, $3.95 to $7.95; entrees, $9.95 to $14.95.

In India, rangoli are painted murals that convey a warm welcome to guests. This nine-month-old Loudoun restaurant has taken the tradition as its name and its decorative theme—the jewel-toned shantung prints are everywhere. From the moment the smiling maître d’ ushers you into one of the wavy orange booths, you feel pampered. At a place where most appetizers are $4 or less, it’s a nice surprise.

The care extends to the food, which servers spoon from artful dishes and copper pots. Chef Kannan Padmanbam has assembled a greatest-hits collection of dishes from all over India. From the south come the lentil doughnuts known as medhu-vada, strongly spiced vegetarian stews (look for the palak paneer and the aloo gobhi), peppery chicken chettinad, and long dosas filled with spicy potatoes.

Chaat papri, a northern Indian staple, is a mix of flour crisps, chickpeas, and potatoes smothered in tamarind and green-chili chutneys and yogurt. Kati rolls—shreds of carrots and cabbage and tandoori chicken wrapped in a roti—are a popular street snack across India. Here they’re billed as a starter, but they make a good lunch on their own.

Ambitious and affordable cooking is seldom found in such attractive surroundings.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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Posted at 11:14 AM/ET, 07/13/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews