Yes, I hit the motherload of chutney on Sansom Street this weekend. Philadelphia Chutney Company, a quick-service vegetarian Indian house that specializes in South Indian style food, such as dosas, has opened door.
Since Indian is a preferred cuisine in this household, the Chutney Co. was one of my most anticipated fall openings. I did not even realize that the menu would be entirely vegetarian, so bonus points for that.
While this promising menu can appear intimidating and slightly confusing on your first attempt, go with it. Don't be afraid to ask questions, as the staff is extremely helpful, friendly, and excited abut the menu. Our fellow satisfied my curiosity about the veggie "tuna" and brought a hunk out for me to try. It was certainly fishy, but was texturally similar to wheat gluten. It comes prepared on a wrap in a sliced form, not as a tuna salad like I was thinking.
There are plenty of dosa combinations, some with cheese and some without, a few vegan options and non-Indian flavor pairings. A foot-long crepe will be set before you, thin, crisp, and flawless, and there is just a few scoops of filling inside for a light, delicate dish. Don't be overwhelmed at how long it is (har, har) because it is extremely flat and translates well as a satisfying snack for two. It's really fun to eat, too...
We had the Potato Masala with Grilled Veggie Chicken and Spinach, with a Coconut Chutney and a Curry Chutney. I had fun smearing on both, but the Curry Chutney hit me all the way home. It was the right degree of spiciness, and our potato masala had its own medium-sweet spice going. The veggie chicken was something I was hesitant about, and I would prefer tofu, but it was an interesting protein that did its part.
Did I mention how fantastic the potatoes are???
At home, I swear by the cilantro chutney from Vegan Indian Kitchen (as modeled by the lovely Lauren) as the perfect accessory to any Indian dish. I'd drink the stuff if you asked me to.
So I was a little underwhelmed by the Cilantro Chutney that we tried, which had a green-gray hue and was too cold to appreciate. I will suggest in the future that they store their chutneys at room temperature. I have no doubt that the cilantro chutney would have been much tastier if it didn't have that "I've been in the fridge all day" texture.
Out of curiosity, I tacked on an order of the Idli (Steamed Rice Lentil Cakes). Visually, they did not look appealing (like soggy bread rounds), but they were quite good with some chutney application. A sprinkle of spice, yogurt, or herbs would have made a better presentation.
Josh had tried the samosas earlier in the week and mentioned that they needed a little work, so I decided to save those for another time. Food was coming out the kitchen as quickly as the concept promised, and the prices were extremely reasonable. I'm so accustomed to healthier items (even the fast convenience ones) being more expensive, so that it was nice to be able to get an abundance of vegetables and spices for the same price as most food at quick-service places.
We split a wrap, to round out our lunch, which was still light. I didn't feel stuffed the way I normally do with Indian meals (even though I love them). I rarely eat Indian for lunch because of the post-meal slump, but the menu is very energy friendly. Again, we had a hard time choosing because there were so many choices that sounded appealing. I can see myself eating here on a weekly basis. Dosa Thursdays, anyone? I finally settled on the Veggie Chicken Salad with Curry Chutney Dressing, Arugula, and Roasted Pepper. Veggie chicken again? Yes, the serving of protein in our dosa and wrap was small, there to round out the majority of vegetables. The wrap was served on a wheat tortilla.
The dosas seem much more exciting than the wraps, which are pretty standard for wraps but have some worthwhile veggie fillings that are priced right and more ideal than going to a deli. Especially when downtown.
You want to sit in a bright, clean spot that used to be your favorite teahouse.
You want to support a fully vegetarian business that has sweet, sweet prices.
And you definitely want to slather your wrap in some bold, funky chutney.
I am pretty hopeful for this spot, that with some more experience and a few minor adjustments, it will become the place that I visit to pretend that I'm eating Indian food in London.
Philadelphia Chutney Company
1628 Sansom St.