Mango Grove strives for healthy food selection

South Indian establishment has all-vegetarian menu

Restaurant profile

Howard Live

March 30, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

In the Ayurvedic tradition, illness should be treated with food first and medication as a last resort.

Or says the menu at Mango Grove, a South Indian restaurant in Dobbin Center in Columbia, which strives to offer a healthful selection of food in the Ayurvedic tradition.

The all-vegetarian restaurant offers a lunch buffet six days a week that includes soup, salad, appetizers, bread, rice curries and dessert. The menu varies from day to day, said Ronnie Mathews, one of four owners and the chef.

On a given day, offerings might include salad, spicy and sour soup, lentil and vegetable stew, steamed rice and lentil cakes, chick pea curry, a spinach and cheese dish, a cabbage and spinach dish, two kinds of rice and, for dessert, sweet pudding made with vermicelli cooked in milk and sweetened and garnished with coconut, raisins, cashews and cardamom.

Some offerings, such as the spinach and cheese, are rich, while others -- such as the cabbage and spinach -- are light and flavorful.

The menu says chefs use only low-fat oil out of concern for the health of patrons.

"Most of our dishes don't call for deep-frying," Mathews said.

The meal also comes with various kinds of bread that might include crispy papadums or chappati, a whole-wheat bread cooked on a griddle and brushed lightly with oil.

The restaurant is in a mall, behind a Wendy's and a McDonald's, and can be described as typically suburban and clean but a little short on atmosphere. The restaurant seats about 80 diners, and the tables are in one big room.

Mathews, 34, said he always dreamed of having a restaurant. He graduated from Baltimore Culinary College in 1988 and worked in New York for 11 years. His resume includes stints at well-known New York City establishments such as the Russian Tea Room, the Brooklyn River Cafe, the French restaurant Aureol and the City Limits Diner.

For four months, Mathews studied Indian cuisine with the Taj hotels at the Taj Savoy in Ooty, India.

The restaurant has done well, Mathews said, and he and his partners plan to open another restaurant soon in Virginia.

Mango Grove

Where: Dobbin Center, 6365B Dobbin Road, Columbia; 410-884-3426.

Hours: 11: 30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with a buffet lunch from 11: 30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a buffet from noon to 3 p.m.; closed Tuesdays.

Prices: Appetizers are $2.95 to $3.95 and most menu items $5 to $8; weekdays, brunch is $6.99 and weekends $7.99; breads are $1.50 to $3.50.

Credit cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club

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