Where to A new outpost of Indian restaurant Shanti, tucked neatly into the techno-heart of Kendall Square. There are other locations in Dorchester and Roslindale. Owners Solmon and Rokeya Chowdhury also run Monroe in Central Square and Boston’s Dudley Cafe.
What for Curries, samosas, fresh-baked breads, and a lunch buffet.
The scene Soothing and sleek. Shanti occupies space in a row of businesses in a pristine alleyway near Kendall Square alongside newish restaurants like Kika Tapas and Commonwealth. Life here is easy, convenient, engineered. There is a parking garage nearby! There are water views! There’s soft music piped into the speakers, all the better to woo your dew-eyed paramour or businessman beau! Couples giggle over iPhones. Families in matching sweatsuits pick at bread. A father-son duo marvel at their tolerance for spice. A few guys in baseball caps sit alone, texting while feasting.
What you’re eating Shanti’s menu covers all the bases: There is a large tandoori section featuring grilled meats and fish, served with saffron basmati rice. There are plenty of roti, or fresh-made breads, like garlic naan (requested by many) and poori (a deep-fried, orb-like carb). There’s vindaloo (tangy curried potatoes and chiles), rogan josh (a yogurt-based sauce with ginger and garlic), and tikka masala (curried tomatoes and light cream) with your protein of choice. Portions are generous, and most everything is under $20. At lunch, fill up at a $12.95 buffet featuring 10 or so favorite dishes in trays, plus chutneys and bread (kids eat for $6.95).
Care for a drink? Shanti serves beer and wine (no cocktails), but the $3.95 mango lassi, a yogurt shake served in those glasses you’d find on a tropical vacation, is the quencher of choice.
Overheard Credit card concerns, plastic-ware requests, buffet bedazzlement. A man in a Northeastern Huskies sweatshirt holds up his credit card to the light and frowns. “Hope this thing works, or you’re paying!” he tells his sweetheart. A group of older folks in Boston University gear wander to the buffet and return with pyramids of naan, nothing else. “Spice can be too much for me,” one tells the other. A man in a newsboy cap plows in off the street. “I need plastic forks!” he says. He receives them, then squats outside on the empty sidewalk, tucking a napkin under his chin and cracking open a takeout tray. Two women in spiked heels teeter before the buffet. “Finally. A real buffet near my apartment!” one tells the other.
7 Broad Canal Way, Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-714-5051, www.shantiboston.comKara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.