To find Everest, just look for the fluttering prayer flags on the north side of Manchester Road. As the newest addition to the Grove area’s dining scene, Everest is east of Five and Sweetie Pie’s, in both locale and cuisine. The food is a flavorful blend of Indian and Nepalese, with a short list of Korean items thrown in, as a nod to the co-owner’s heritage.
This is a homey place typical of ethnic restaurants in a mom-and-pop sort of way. The first room has big windows to the street, a small bar and a handful of tables/booths. Beyond that, another space has about a dozen tables, and beyond that is a narrow area for the daily lunch buffet. The decor includes incense, votives beneath a photo of the Dali Lama and prayer flags. You will be greeted with Namaste.
This restaurant already has a loyal following from its days on Washington Avenue, and it’s easy to see why. Servers are friendly and attentive, and the food is flavorful. In general, dishes are not as hot as traditional Indian food, with the overriding flavors being coriander and cumin (which seem to be in everything) and tomato sauce, all to pleasant effect.
We started with the very reasonably priced special appetizer platter, $8.50 for a delicious assortment of deep fried ‘vegetable fritters,’ vegetable samosas and ‘mo-mo.’ There was enough here for four. The fritters were not the usual ground veggie concoction known as pakoras in Indian cuisine, but four big slices each of zucchini and eggplant, heavily coated in a cornflake-like batter and not the least bit greasy.
The mo-mo, in vegetable or ground pork, is a delicate stuffed dumpling served steamed, one of my favorite items of the meal. The pork variety was a flavorful blend of ground meat, onions and pepper flakes, the dough pocket that surrounded it, thin and soft. The veggie ones contained mashed potato and cauliflower. Dipping sauces were a cumin-y tomato and sweet tamarind sauce familiar in Indian cuisine. The samosas, also stuffed with mashed veggies, had chunks of potato and skins that were doughier than what I’ve had at local Indian restaurants.
The menu has a nice smattering of shrimp, vegetarian, chicken and lamb offerings. The sizzling lamb tarkari, one of my favorites, is excellent, served in a cast-iron skillet brought to the table sizzling hot. In it are lean, tender chunks of lamb dotted with grilled red onions, bell peppers, lemon and tomato wedges. It is fragrant with cumin and coriander and positively delicious, filling and surprisingly lean. Like most of the entrees, it comes with soup and steamed rice.
I asked to substitute the chicken vegetable soup for the lentil soup, and was treated to a very satisfying cup of red chicken soup, spicy hot and filled with green beans, tiny cauliflower florets and shreds of chicken. The lentil soup, which I had during a lunch vivist, was different than Indian daal: somewhat watery, flavored with cilantro, lime and lemongrass, and not nearly as good as the chicken soup.
Each meat category offers a thali platter, or complete meal on a tray, Nepalese style. We got one of these, in shrimp, and it too was excellent. It came with eight large shrimp, bright orange from their spicing and somewhat sweet in flavor. Set into the little concave spaces on the thali platter were: pickled hot mango, pickled sweet mango, cucumber, lemon, daal (lentil soup), sauteed bok choy with greens and a big mound of rice in the center. The mango concoctions were pungent, adding extra bite/sugar to the shrimp.
Our order of garlic naan ($3.25) was good, doughier and less oiled than the Indian version, while a serving of mixed tandoori meats ($18) was delicious. Chunks of chicken, whole shrimp and a nice portion of sliced lamb were in the sizzling skillet, all with the reddish tint typical of tandoori-cooked foods. Chunks of onion and green pepper were also in the skillet with a coating of flavorful fond, the dense gravy that forms when meat releases its juices.
We tried one item from the Korean list, hae mul tang (spicy seafood soup, $12.50). It was quite good, a spicy, vinegary mix of calamari, shrimp, scallops, mussels and kale.
Desserts, all $2.95, include mango or green tea ice cream and mango or rice pudding. Our order of kheer (rice pudding) was delicious, creamy, thick and filled with coconut, much better than it was when I had it during a lunch visit. The green tea ice cream was similarly satisfying, strongly flavored with green tea and enough for two.
I really enjoyed Everest and plan to keep going back. The food is wonderful, the service friendly, the prices palatable and, most important, it has good karma.