Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated February 23, 2012.
The Ayurveda Cafe on Manhattan’s Amsterdam Avenue (on the Upper West Side) serves Indian (lacto-)vegetarian food. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, six tastes must be incorporated into every meal: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.
The Ayurveda Cafe adheres to these teachings and offers a pre-set meal (lunch or dinner) with ten items each: an appetizer, two vegetable entrees, bread, lentils, basmati or brown rice, salad, raita, dessert, and assorted chutneys.
The set meal is your only choice, and the menu changes daily.
I’d read about this restaurant in Rynn Berry’s The Vegan Guide to New York City, and hadn’t really planned on stopping by, as I am not a believer in the teachings of Ayurveda. I prefer restaurants, which offer a selection of dishes for me to choose from. But then I happened to walk by the restaurant one day just around lunchtime, and decided to give it a try.
I am not as enthusiastic about the place as Rynn Berry, who gave this restaurant a glowing review in his guidebook. The décor and ambience didn’t impress me. I think the place could do with a bit of remodeling.
I liked the food, at least the dishes which I actually could eat. When I told the waitress that I was a vegan, she kept taking dishes away without offering any replacements. Three of the ten dishes were not vegan. I ended up paying for a lot of food that I wasn’t able to eat.
The service was lousy. I ate at many restaurants during my ten-day trip to New York City last May, and the service at Ayurveda Cafe was definitely the worst. The waitress was inattentive; she kept bringing me dishes, which were not vegan, only to take them away again moments later.
I also didn’t get a receipt, even after I asked for it. All I got was the credit card slip (which is not enough for Austrian financial authorities. I need proper receipts, and that’s been a problem in NYC on several occasions.)
Lunch at Ayurveda Cafe is currently $9.95 (without drinks), plus tax and tips. Dinner is $13.95.
Address: 706 Amsterdam Avenue at 94th Street, 10025 NYC
Opening hours: daily 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM