by Madeline Scher.
Are you tired of the traditional Valentine’s Day grind? Finding a good restaurant, dining in a fancy, uptight atmosphere, shelling out tons of cash? If so, check out this downtown classic.
Recommended: Mixed Grill Tandoori
Reservations: Necessary for six or more people
Price Range: Entrees ranging from $5.50 - $11.95
Atmosphere: Contagious, close-knit buzz. Not for the claustrophobic.
Location: 93 First Ave. (second Floor, right hand side) New York City, 10003
Panna II is guaranteed to make the night a budget friendly, cozy, and laugh-filled evening. Close knit seating, low ceilings, and dim lighting provide a romantic feel, and the food will satisfy all types of eaters – those loving plain food and those with spicy cravings.
On the second floor of 93 First Ave., three Indian restaurants fiercely compete for customers. Representatives of the restaurants stand outside fighting for couples, groups, and friends out for a night of fun and Indian cuisine. Panna II is located on the top right.
The attraction here is not only the food, but also the atmosphere. Panna II is jammed packed with low hanging Christmas lights, blaring Indian music and a vibe that is absolutely contagious.
From noon to midnight, seven days a week, the restaurant boosts a wide variety of Indian food. While deciding what to order, toasted bread and a variety of sauces are provided.
The beef koori, marinated in herbs and special hot spices with peppers and onions ($9.95) is cooked to perfection: flavorful and juicy.
For the less adventurous, the chicken tandoori ($8.95), which is roasted and marinated in herbs and spices, will satisfy those with even the most mild of tastes.
All the main entrees ($5.50 – $11.95) are healthy portions and come with saffron rice, dhal, cabbage, and mango chutney. For a more spicy option, the chicken vindaloo is cooked in a special hot sauce. All other meals can be made vindaloo (hot) for $0.50 extra.
Another option for those avoiding vindaloo meals is the chicken makhani ($8.50), cooked in pineapple, butter, almonds and spices. This is mild at Panna II, but again, can be requested spicy.
Panna II is BYOB. A liquor store is located a few blocks north on First Avenue. The restaurant itself offers soda, lassi, tea and coffee.
For dessert, the selection is limited to ice cream. Even so, who can complain about complimentary ice cream?
Although a visit to Panna II is not your typical fancy Valentine’s Day type of dinner out, it offers an ambiance more geared towards a less conventional Valentine.