Flatiron Lunch: Swagat Brings Good Indian to the Westside
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
I have always held on to the Flatiron east guilt that comes with having Curry Hill. One of the more magical, and tasty, neighborhoods of NYC. The west side has so few options in the high 20s, and certainly nothing as abundant as Curry Hill (although Korean Town really isn’t that far). I have dreamed what it would be like if the Flower District was the Ramen District (for example) instead. I have separately wondered where all the people who work in the Flower District eat lunch. I felt a little better when I came across Swagat on 29th Street.
It doesn’t seem anyone would come to Swagat for the atmosphere with the dated pseudo art deco décor. In fact, one MLer previously described the ambiance as “very LIRR waiting room”. But Swagat draws a good crowd, like the table of Indian men and women in suits and a couple cool dudes in jeans who ordered chicken biryani ($6.95) and lamb biryani ($6.95). (It seemed to take over 10 minutes for the biryani to come out, so be warned if you are in a rush.)
When there is any line, you should plan to walk past the counter and stand at the back of the restaurant to work your way back towards the register. With this, you might miss the lunch combos on the menu above the register. Chicken combo for $7.50 or vegetarian combo for $6.50. I was able to figure it out, because I noticed the silver divided to-go containers and asked.
In addition to the steam counter of daily items, Swagat also has a full menu of dishes, and it is important to note that the lunch prices are $3 to $5 cheaper than the dinner prices. Of additional note, there are plastic water cups on the tables which can be filled from water pitchers which were located in the cooler case behind the register. It took me visiting in person and a delivery to realize they don’t automatically give you coriander and tamarind chutney, but they have small sauce containers ready to go, so be sure to ask.
On my first visit, I got the chicken combo to stay with chicken tikka masala and saag paneer. My chicken options also included chicken vindaloo or chicken korma, and there were many vegetable options. After serving up my curries, I was given the option of dal (lentils) on top of my rice. So I said yes. I later noticed other people had asked for their dal in a small bowl on the side, which is a much better option! I was also offered naan or roti with my meal.
As a whole, I was very satisfied with my combo. I prefer my saag paneer a little less thin (over pureed), but other than that, the flavors were good and it was certainly filling. I wish I had thought to add some coriander chutney as I would have preferred to spice it up a little. They also had good looking tandoori chicken, but it was not included as an option for the combo.
With so much left unordered on the menu, especially the daily specials, I had Swagat for another meal, delivery this time. I held off until a Wednesday to try the chicken keema matar ($6.50 with rice included). (It looks like this might be an option on the regular menu, so I am not sure if it is available every day or just Wednesday.) The daily specials are listed only on certain menus, but it can be found on the website here.
The chicken keema matar was even more impressive than the combo items I had gotten previously, with more depth of flavors and a great texture. The combination of spices really made this dish outstanding, including a whole clove I found in my order.
I had been thinking about the biryani ordered by my fellow diners last time, so I also ordered the goat biryani ($6.95) for delivery. First, I noticed the weight of the container- it was heavy! So much food! The goat meat was roughly chopped and wasn’t trimmed of bones, fat, cartilage, etc. I found myself working a little harder for my food, but for the price, it is a great deal.
The smell of the dish was on the sweet side which I attributed to the clove I found in this dish with a two inch section of cinnamon. This was the first Swagat dish that actually had a little spice to it, so the heat balanced the sweetness.
THE + (What people who like this place will say)
- Finally. Indian food on the west side.
- The daily specials show a lot of promise, and the lower prices for lunch is exciting.
- Swagat’s Indian hits the spot.
THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)
- Do you think Curry Hill delivers to me?
- This is Americanized Indian food.
- Swagat is too dingy.
Swagat, 205 West 29th Street btwn 7th and 8th Avenues, (212) 967-7373