The Best Indian Lunch Buffet–Pretty Much

All up and down Manhattan and probably the other boroughs, Indian restaurants offer lunch buffets at a reasonable price. You don’t order your favorites from the menu (although you can) but there’s something for everybody on the buffet–appetizers, soups, salads, mains, and desserts. They are generally good and provide a good lunch for the dollar.

sapphire-nyc( We think we have found the best of the group in Sapphire, at 1845 Broadway near 61Street. In addition to a much more upscale and roomy interior than most places,

interior( the food is a little better and more beautifully presented. Grab a fresh plate each time you go to the buffet (they absolutely will not let you bring back a dirty plate), start with the nice array of simple salads, condiments and sauces,

sauces 2then move on to the classic assorted vegetable fritters (pakora) and potatoes and peas wrapped in light pastry (samosa). buffetOne of the great things about Indian cuisine, of course, is its imaginative use of vegetables as appetizers and main courses, fried or in sauces,

appetizersand Sapphire presents a great selection of these items, including slow-cooked lentils, vegetable croquettes, chick peas, baby eggplant and cauliflower, other dishessometimes combined with what they call cottage cheese–a nice creamy sauce with delicious white lumps. Next come the chicken and fish, often marinated in yoghurt and pleasingly cool to the palate, plus tandoori chicken, still one of my favorites.

tandoorCurries, paneers and masalas fill out the menu.chicken tika masala( Don’t worry about what there will be, they’re all great and it gives you a chance to try something new without investing in your entire entree. This buffet caters to my taste, which is not spicy–but I’m sure the more courageous among us can get their choices spiced up, Indian-style. masala Finish off with an ultra-sweet dessert or two–these vary from day to day–including one pudding surprisingly made with shredded carrots (Gajjar Halwa) and and one with little pastry/condensed milk/cottage cheese balls in honey syrup (Gulab Jamun).

dessertThe grilled puffy bread known as nan is served hot at your table. This spread costs a few dollars more than others we have eaten at–about $17/pp–but the ambience, the food and the location (right by Lincoln Center) make it worth the tab. We had our 48th anniversary lunch there with good friends and it was fine for a celebration.

NB–this is a weekday lunch buffet only; it’s pricier at dinner.

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