Dining: Enjoying a Recession-Proof Buffet at Haandi

We used to have an occasional night out at Haandi Indian Restaurant in the Giant shopping center, but now it’s been years since we ate dinner there.

Why? Because the luncheon buffet is just too great a bargain to go any other time of day.

What, in the year 2009, would you expect to pay at a restaurant offering white tablecloths, black-tie-clad waiters providing impeccable service, and delicious Indian food? That would include a salad, naan bread hot from a clay oven, all the scrumptious vegetarian and meat (mostly chicken) dishes you care to eat, and sweet rice pudding for dessert.

How about $21.90 (plus tax and tip). How about if that were the price for TWO?

Haandi offers an incredible weekday buffet for $10.95. I don’t know of any restaurant in this area that can match that, given the quality and selection of food and relatively upscale ambiance.

Of course, there’s a catch: Most of us aren’t available for the weekday buffet. On weekends the price is $12.95, which is when I’ve always gone. Last Sunday I asked if the buffet is scaled down during the week. No, I was assured, it’s identical.

That’s still a real bargain. Because, unlike so many restaurants with “1-price” buffets (I’m thinking American steakhouses a.k.a. madhouses), Haandi’s buffet retains the intimacy and elegance of a relaxed meal. And Indian food lends itself especially well to simmering over a Sterno can — rather than drying out, the casserole-style offerings just get more succulent with time.

But I do have a problem with buffets: I eat too much. I want to try a little (a little?) of everything. That’s filling — especially with Indian food when I’m wrapping naan flatbread around each gooey bite. So this time I made a pact with myself: I would not go back for seconds, nor would I ask for a second basket of bread (at no extra charge, by the way). That worked, sort of, until I overfilled my dessert bowl with rice pudding. As I waddled out of the restaurant I vowed next time to be even more circumspect.

And, in retrospect, I also felt a little guilty. Here’s a question: how much should one tip for buffet service? For full service I usually tip about 15 percent of the total bill (meaning over 15 percent of the pre-tax price). At Haandi I tipped a little over 10 percent. After all, we carried our own plates. But in thinking about it later I realized that the wait staff was still there, seating us, bringing bread, refilling our water glasses, and whisking away dirty dishes. Next time, I promise, I’ll eat less and tip more.

Photo: Donald P.

Menu and more information here.

April 8, 2009 


One Response to “Dining: Enjoying a Recession-Proof Buffet at Haandi”

  1. Sharon on April 13th, 2009 10:58 pm

    Yum! That looks so good I am going to have to check it out. I have been in the evening, but would love to try the buffet. Wish I was around on a weekday more often.

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