West End Avenue's wonderful Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine took over the fairly nondescript ground-floor site of several failed restaurants. Since its 2005 opening, however, Woodlands has built a strong word-of-mouth following and praise from traditional media and blog critics, so we're anticipating continued success. That's in part because, while Nashville has enjoyed Indian restaurants for a generation or more, local eateries that focus exclusively on vegetarian food have fought extinction for years. The daily lunch buffet is a fine way to sample the various dosas
(thin crepes filled with various vegetables and spices), uthappam
(rice and lentil pancakes with vegetables and other toppings) and curried stews over rice. Local knowledge: You order the buffet to go and cram as much delicious Indian goodness into a to-go container as you like. Appetizer standouts include rasam
soup and vegetable samosas, and the bursting-with-flavor samosa chat (think Indian nachos). Various multi-course dinner specials also are offered as well as brilliant curries such as mutter paneer,
and dal makhani
, which can be made extra spicy upon request (the friendly servers usually seem amused by this). Desserts include mango ice cream and rasmalai
, which is house-made cottage cheese in sweet condensed milk with pistachios.