Where to Go When You Can't Get Into Cafe Breslin: Chandni on West 29th Street

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Shining like a beacon across the street from the Cafe Breslin--Pakistani halal restaurant Chandni

One interesting aspect of being an anonymous critic is that you're not "recognized" in restaurants, and receive no special favors. Such was the case when I showed up with a friend at Cafe Breslin last evening at 6:30, and found that the barroom was mobbed, and the wait for a table--the place takes no reservations--had ballooned to two hours..

As my friend and I regrouped out in the street, trying to decide where else we might eat, we spotted Chandni across the street, right next to the mosque that has been locked in a dispute with Cafe Breslin for the last few weeks. Literally and figuratively, we crossed over to the other side of the street.

The well-lit place is thronged with jovial mosque attendees, some of whom are vendors who sell stuff on the street in front of the mosque. There's an elevated dining area with a nice view of the Cafe Breslin, a sunken steam table room with more seating, and a side room for those who like to eat in totaly peace and quiet.

The steam table was pristine in its loveliness, filled with the standards of Pakistani cuisine, including quarter chickens done in the tandoori oven pleasantly devoid of red food coloring, plenty of vegetarian dishes, mostly semi-pureed, and lots of lamb. Two generous dishes from a selection of a dozen or so, along with a salad, green yogurt raita, and a huge heap of white or brown rice, sets you back only $8. The only drawback we could see: no alcohol. 11 West 29th Street, 212-686-4456

Next: See what we ate


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