Upon entering the restaurant, visitors are greeted by a large blue cow in the corner. Stringed lights adorn the ceiling, while worn bamboo-like place mats sit on the tables. The decor is low-key, but could use an update.
Named after the period in South India celebrating the end of monsoon season and the beginning of the harvest festival, Pongal attempts to mimic the harvest-like environment by serving up dishes from various parts of India with entrees such as Madras Thali ($7.95), Undhiyu ($9.95), and Malai Kofta ($9.95).
The Madras Thali is an assortment of seven portions of two types of rice, eggplant, spiced potatoes, soup, and two dipping sauces. A slightly greasy piece of poori bread and papad. The eggplant, which had an unexpected tanginess to it, and the potatoes were easily the most flavorful and memorable parts of the meal.
One of Pongal’s most impressive dishes are their dosais. The Masala dosai ($8.45) is a stunning wrap-like meal filled with potatoes and onions. Made from rice flour and lentils, the dough of the dosai is light and flaky, yet still satisfying. The mildly spicy sambar soup and coconut chutney are served alongside it. The dish would benefit from a bit more filling inside, but the excess can easily be used to dip inside of the soup or coconut chutney.
For dessert, subtly sweet badam halwa ($5.45) provides a nice balance to the spices of Pongal’s entree. With the look and consistency of apple sauce, the thick almond fudge is a filling addition to any meal.
The efforts of the waitstaff can be a little hit or miss. Sometimes slightly pushy and at others kind and patient, the one positive thing to mention is that the food is served very quickly.
Overall, Pongal is a decent dining experience, but lacks the necessary elements to make it stand out in an area saturated with similar cuisine.