Monday, February 7, 2011

Mantra - Restaurant or Club, still not sure...

On Friday night, Nick and I went to check out Mantra since another Groupon deadline was approaching.  I had been to Mantra for after work drinks, as well as when it turns into a club late night.  Both of these times were at least 4 years ago, and having heard they had good food, I was excited to give it a go - especially with a bit of a discount.

Knowing they had good drinks, we went straight for the specialty cocktails.  I got the Madhu, which was made with Belvedere, honey and fresh lime juice. 

The Madhu
This drink was really good for those of us who really like vodka, because that really is the main and only component!  The honey is drizzled around the glass (as you can see in the picture above) so it does not really mix into the drink until the end.

Nick got the Surat - a martini that had Van Gough espresso vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream, Starbucks Liquor and a little bit of brewed coffee.  It was amazing for those who like creamy drinks and don't have bodies that would hate them the next morning (like mine would).

Yummy sickness in a glass
Rather than appetizers we went for some naan bread.  Mantra has a great variety to choose from.  After a bit of deliberation we got the ginger honey, coconut and date, and the smoked mozzarella and green chili. 

Basket of goodness
The smoked mozzarella was my favorite.  For me, the coconut flavor was not strong enough (however as we know, I like A LOT of coconut flavor.)  The ginger and honey was good, but I am not a huge ginger person.  The chef cooking the naan is actually out in the open so you can watch him make them.  However, it seems to be mixed in with what turns into a bar later in the evening.  The naan was served with a red sauce that really just tasted like cold tomato sauce.

For dinner I got the spiced marinated halibut.  The fish was rubbed with a combination of turmeric and red chili oil and was topped with a cilantro pesto.  The accompaniments were a purple potato wrapped in broccoli rabe. 

The Halibut
The fish was delicious, nice and spicy.  The flavor was fun and different from what I normally order.  The accompaniments were OK, nothing too striking. 

Nick got the spiced pomegranate encrusted tuna that was served with asparagus, lemon corn and a tomato chutney.

The Tuna
The tuna was cooked well, however it really lacked a bit of depth of flavor.  There was no real kick to the tuna that we thought was supposed to be there considering it is labeled as "spiced."  The lemon corn, however, was delicious. 

As for the atmosphere: when I first walked into the restaurant I was struck by the size of the room. Mantra actually is in an old bank that they have re-purposed. I guess the main bar used to be where the tellers stood. Most of the walls of the room still have marble and the ceilings have beautiful moldings throughout. Whats odd is the restoration did not really embrace the older features. Further, they never really embraced the Indian or French culture either. So there are a few splashes of color, but given the theme of the food, they really could have done so much more - even just switching the white table clothes for a color would have made a difference.

The other aspect that really sticks out while you are enjoying the meal is all of the things they have for the club that the restaurant turns into later in the evening. There are huge club-like spotlights everywhere, and I think most of the tables and chairs actually get moved out of the space. However, the chairs look just like that - ready to be moved. In fact most of the furniture set up for the restaurant just seems temporary and, in my opinion, really affects atmosphere.  Mostly, I felt like they were waiting to finish dinner service to make way for the late night festivities.

If you were going for drinks I think this would be a good spot, and some of their lighter options at the naan bar would be great.  However, for dinner, the entrees seemed a bit overpriced for the quality of the food.  I was really happy that I had a groupon.

Mantra on Urbanspoon

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