On a cold, windy night last week, my friends and I found ourselves at Pradeep's Indian Cuisine in Santa Monica. While the small cafe was almost empty, the eclectic decor provided a busy atmosphere. The restaurant had a classy feel, though the customer service was very poor. The waitress ignored us the entire meal, and we had to flag her down to get her attention. Luckily, it took us a while to scan the menu, which featured many Vegan options. We had to spend a minimum of $50 to use our $25 dollar restaurant.com gift certificate, which was fairly easy, since the restaurant was so expensive and there were three of us splitting the meal.
We started out with a couple of appetizers. First, we had two orders of samosas ($9), which ended up actually being four samosas.
The samosas were delicious and I love that there was a sweet, luscious glaze lightly sprinkled on and around the samosas. It was a great contrast to the well-spiced curried potato filling and fit very well with the crunchy pastry shell. I also enjoyed the crisp cucumber and carrot mix, which added an extra spice to the dish.
Next, we had the Aloo Ki Tikki, which were potato pancakes ($4.50).
These were also delicious. The pancakes were very delicate and soft, with a light spice. I would have liked it to have been a bit spicier, as it was too bland for my taste. The papadum topping added a great crunch to the dish and was also very lightly spiced. The balsamic drizzle added a subtle sweetness to the dish and worked even better with the assortment of fresh vegetables.
Next, our entrees came out. My friend and I shared the Dal ($12.50) and the Spicy Tofu And Cauliflower ($12.50) while other friend opted to design her own dish ($12.50), since she did not like any of the choices on the menu.
I first tried the Spicy Tofu And Cauliflower.
This dish was so tasty. The curry sauce was so scrumptious and had such a strong spice to it. The tofu and cauliflower were well-seasoned and delicately cooked to retain perfect textures. They were both soft and crumbled in my mouth as I ate them. There was also a light minty garnish, which added an extra spice and was a great cooling contrast to the intense flavor of the curry.
Next, I tried the Dal.
The dal was also very flavorful and mildly spiced. This dish had a creamier consistency and was almost reminiscent of a soup. The taste of lentils was very strong and the vegetables were nice and soft. The spinach was slightly chewy and provided a great texture to the dish. I would definitely order this again.
My friend described her customized dish as being very delicious and found the taste to be replica of the interior of a samosa. It was composed of tofu and potatoes covered in a curry sauce.
Each entree was accompanied with a salad and saffron rice.
The vegetables in the salad were very crisp and were coated in a light vinaigrette. I would have liked there to have been a bit more seasoning on this, but it was still a great compliment to the meal.
The saffron rice was also very good and was very lightly spiced. It mixed very well with each dish and balanced out the flavors beautifully.
Lastly, I washed down the meal with a very sugary glass of lemonade ($3).
This was very sweet and refreshing and balanced out the spicy food perfectly. It was a bit expensive and unfortunately did not come with any free refills.
Overall, I really enjoyed the meal. The food was a bit overpriced but I loved the presentation of food. I think the entrees could have been composed more artistically, as they did not live up to the exquisite look of the appetizers. The dishes were also very innovative and combined a variety of flavors that worked perfectly together. The meal was quite expensive and came out to $18 per person with the discount. Nevertheless, we did get a lot of food and it was very high quality. I will definitely be back to try more dishes, as there were many other items that sounded amazing.