First Impression: Mehtaphor

Indian "street" burger

Shrimp ceviche

When Mehtaphor called twice to confirm last night’s reservation, I grew nervous that they had overbooked and were hoping I’d cancel. And when our foursome showed up to find a packed restaurant, I was sure we’d never sit. But we were led straightaway to four seats—on two awkward bench-stool hybrids that I hadn’t noticed before—lined up at the rear bar. They might have been fine for two pairs of people, but not us. The hostess said she wasn’t sure she could do anything about it, but happily, chef Jehangir Mehta—who really is lovely—saw us standing there and gave us a four-top. Soon, the hostess was back, explaining that Mehta’s other restaurant, Graffiti, is so small that diners there expect a little creative seating; while Mehtaphor is larger, it’s only larger in a relative sense (as we learned when the man at the high communal table next to ours inadvertently slid over till he was sitting on the corner of our table). We all agreed that it was something she should probably mention to anyone making a reservation.

Lamb shank with sweet-potato fries

In that spirit, I also wish I had known that the food—”small plates”—comes out when it’s ready, and in no particular order, so you have no choice but to share. The food was generally quite good, with these standouts: the truffle mushroom pizza (I may be misremembering what it was called on the menu; anyway, it’s really a puff pastry), the spiced lamb shank (with by far the best sweet-potato fries I’ve ever had), and the Indian “street” burger (an Indian sloppy Joe made with peas). The portions aren’t large, though, and $17 struck me as expensive for two miniature brioches, some pea filling, and a child’s handful of fries. I’m pretty sure I would have to order three dishes to leave satisfied. It’s also possible I was getting tetchy/tipsy because the service was a bit second-nightish—which is what you get when you go to a restaurant on its second night.

UPDATE: I was walking by Mehtaphor tonight and saw that the tables were spaced a bit better and the crowd wasn’t overpowering: I think that maybe we caught the wrong end of a party that night.

Recent First Impression articles:
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BLT Bar & Grill
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