What's there not to love?
So, we made it there faster than you could say lickety-split, and soon were treated to this feast:
This traditional thali preparation offers a range of different curries in separate bowls, along with rice and other accoutrements. In this particular case, we got (beginning with the bread at the bottom and moving clockwise): roti (flatbread), a sweet treat made of rice flour, raita (yogurt sauce), a bean curry, potato-pea curry, malai kofta (like vegetarian meatballs), daal (lentil soup), basmati rice, and in the middle, some sort of potato bite with cilantro sauce, and papadam (thin, crispy cracker).
It was all delicious--though in a subtle and comforting way, not in a knock-your-socks-off-flavorful-Indian kind of way. And there were unlimited refills on all of it! So, by the end of the meal, we were looking like this:
Although the food was satisfying, the real highlight of the place were the friendly owner and his quirky co-owner uncle. We told them it was our first time at the restaurant, and that we were from out of state, so the quirky uncle came up specially to talk to us, and to laugh very loudly and buoyantly with us, at unexpected moments. He was a real character.
Perhaps this sign that was posted in the restaurant can give a glimpse into some of his silliness:
When I asked "Is that really what VATICA stands for?," he responded by laughing, you guessed it, loudly and bouyantly.
Oh, and in addition to the thali, the signs on the restaurant window promised "tasty snacks," which they delivered, in the form of this spicy Indian trail mix (often known as chevda, or Bombay mix), and these sweet date-coconut-nut treats:
All in all, dining at Vatica was a delight, and I encourage you all to go out looking for some thali and quirky proprietors of your own!