Maria says…

Cuisine: Vegetarian/ South Indian
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The bottom line: Woodland’s makes me want to become a vegetarian again!

As some of my close friends might know (and now the rest of you readers) at one point a couple of years ago I was a vegetarian (well as close to it as you can get while still eating seafood…pescetarian I believe it’s called). Yes, I love to eat but I was not a big meat eater then either so it made perfect sense to try it out and see if I liked it. Despite the fact that I did enjoy having a mainly vegetarian diet at times I found it difficult to go out to eat since on many occassions I would just come across the same recurring vegetarian options on many menus…veggie burgers, portabella mushroom burgers, veggie sandwiches, etc. Sadly, eventually it was bacon that won that fight and I became a meat eater again.

Now the only reason why I brought up that part of my life is because I recently went to an all vegetarian South Indian restaurant. Although I have had Indian food previously (mainly curries with chicken and rice) I don’t consider that I have explored that cuisine expansively, so I was definitely intrigued to see what I would find. The restaurant that I ended up going to is called Woodland’s and is located right on Albemarle Road. It came highly recommended from various people that had been there already so I went with high expectations and I can tell you I wasn’t disappointed. From the outside Woodland’s seems very simplistic and even inside you won’t find an over the top restaurant…if you are looking for flashy I can point you to other areas of town where it might be the norm. However, as the old and sometimes over used saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

One of the things that took me by surprise was that Woodland’s menu was so long! Who knew there could be so many food options made just from vegetables. Why didn’t I know about this place when I was vegetarian!? It certainly took me a while to look through the menu and pick something to eat. My first choice was to ask for the Onion Naan. Naan is leavened bread topped with minced onion and baked in a clay oven. They also have another variety which is topped with garlic. The naan was incredible! For $2.75 you are served 4 pieces of this deliciousness and I think that is a very generous serving indeed. In my opinion naan is more or less similar to your pita bread, except much more savory thanks to the addition of the garlic or onion. My coworkers who ordered the garlic variety completely raved about it and I can tell you the onion one was no different. The bread was taken to the table while still warm which made it only that much softer. Whenever I go back to Woodland’s I will order it again because, yes it is that addicting. It is also a flat bread so it’s easier to trick my mind into thinking I’m really getting some type of carb super deal…amazing bread for little calories.

After eating the naan I went on to devour my main meal. I ordered the Onion Rava Masala Dosa (can you tell I was on an onion kick?). Dosa is white lentil and rice crepes filled with onions and potatoes. It is also a dish that is very popular among many South Indian states and is found not only at home for breakfast but also around the cities as a street food throughout the day. The dosa itself was incredible. It appears as if pieces of onion were also mixed into the batter thus providing the crepe itself with more flavor. The dosa was thin and the edges were crispy. I found myself taking pieces of the crepe and dipping them in the sauces that came with the dish. I am not sure if this is customary but it for sure worked for me! I literally could have just eaten the crepe itself and have not complained. The filling of the dosa is made with sauteed potatoes, onions, and spices. The filling was equally as savory and rich in flavor thanks to the different spices that were used. Although some Indian food get the reputation of being spicy be aware that this was not a spicy dish. Along with the dosa there were also two different types of sauces served. I am not completely sure what they were made of but one was more liquid like and seemed to be oil based. The other one was was creamier in consistency and much more spicy. I loved pouring the sauces over the dosa as they took the dish to a whole other level! As you can see from the picture the dosa is nothing to be played with. It is huge and yes ladies and gents I ate all of it!

Pictured you will also see some of the other dishes that my coworkers ordered. I love having people that will go on these food adventures with me! One of the dishes pictured is something that Woodland’s offers as a lunch special. I can’t tell you much more about it except that my coworker was completely satisfied with it. And as you can tell so was I with my dish because I didn’t bother to ask too many questions about it to report back to you (fail, I know!). Now the other dish that I have in sight and will have to get back next time is the Mushrooms Fried Rice. Does it not make your mouth water? Well it does mine but then again I love mushrooms! This dish was apparently also well prepared and tasty.

Service wise I think it was OK, our drinks were filled timely and everyone was nice. Overall, my visit to Woodland’s was worth it. It opened up my world not only to taste more traditional Indian food than what I was accustomed to (besides samosa and curries) but also showed me that there are endless possibilities to being a vegetarian without ever becoming bored with the food you are eating. I don’t think I am about to go back to being a vegetarian (or pescetarian) just yet, but if I ever do and I need options on things to eat, I know that Woodland’s is definitely a place I will have to go to.

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