Woodlands has opened a restaurant in Memphis since the writing of this review.
Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
3415 West End Ave.
On a recent trip to Nashville, my in-laws suggested we lunch at the Woodlands Vegetarian Indian buffet. Although Chip and I love Indian food, this is not necessarily best destination for a family meal. Although Chloe, my two-year-old daughter, is willing to try whatever is on my plate, my five-year-old son won't touch a thing. And if I bring something different for Connor to eat, I have to bring the same thing for Chloe--she really must always do exactly what he's doing, or the Earth will stop spinning.
We wanted to try this place, which had gotten rave reviews from everyone in the family and from a food blog I like. We decided to follow the sad precedent we had already established at Mayuri and get the kids some fast food to eat while we enjoyed the buffet.
Chip's parents took the kids ahead to the restaurant, while we went a few yards down the road to Mickey D's. We pulled up to the drive-thru to hear "Welcome to McDonald's cash only mayItakeyourorder?" Of course we didn't have any cash on us, so we kept right on driving. I thought we had passed a Panera, so we tried to go there. After pulling in the wrong parking lot on a very crowded street, we started to panic. Knowing there was a Wendy's in the other direction, we decided to go for it since it was a sure thing (and was on our side of the street!). What a poor decision that was!
As has become the norm at Wendy's, service was slow and rude. I had to wait four minutes for my chicken nuggets to cook- despite the fact that there weren't that many people in the store, they had still managed to run out. Chip tried to call his parents and warn them, but no one answered the phone. Finally I got our food and ran out of there, frustrated and feeling guilty about how hungry I knew my kids were.
We got to Woodlands a good twenty minutes later than we thought we would. My very hungry family was waiting in the parking lot, trying to keep busy so that the kids, who hadn't had much to eat that day, wouldn't freak out.
Unfortunately, I was already freaking out. We went in, and as the kids clawed at the Wendy's bags in my hands we got a table. "How are you today?" the nice waiter asked. "Good," my mother-in-law replied, as I simultaneously said, "Not good!" Chip chastised me for taking it out on the server, but I wasn't mad at that guy. I just didn't have it in me to lie to him. As I pulled the kids' food out of the bags, it got even worse. It seems we were not allowed to bring meat into the vegetarian restaurant. That makes perfect sense! Too bad I had lost my mind somewhere in the Wendy's dining room and hadn't thought of that myself.
I marched the kids outside to sit on a stool and eat their nuggets while everyone else ate. Of course, everyone else followed us out there. They had forgotten that when a woman has small children, she never actually gets to eat a peaceful meal! I didn't expect everyone else to suffer. We sent the men back inside to get started, while my mother-in-law (she hasn't forgotten!) and I swatted flies away from the kids' food and begged them to shovel those nuggets down their throats. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that they took their time.
Eventually we made it back inside and ordered Sprite for the kids to drink with their mandarin oranges. (The chocolate milk and French fries were finished before the nuggets. Of course.) Then we finally got to eat the outstanding food on this buffet. It was so good! I don't know enough about Indian food to properly describe it all, but I had: masala dosa bread filled with potato and onion; lentil and rice(?) pancakes with vegetables; basmati rice with lemon and spices (to die for!); spinach and lentils in a spicy tomato broth (my other favorite!); a masala sauce with okra; fried onions; lots of other things I can't remember because I was too busy eating to ask what was in it.
I can't wait to go back to Woodlands, but next time I go I will bring food for the kids from home. The days of bringing a bag of fast food into a nicer establishment are over. If the kids can't enjoy what the restaurant has to offer, then they don't get to have "restaurant" food. I'm not doing myself or the kids any favors by letting them slum it with nuggets and fries--from now on they can eat off the menu, or they can have the pb&j I've shoved in my purse. This disaster was bad enough to cause a policy change in the Chockley household!
If you are in Nashville, I strongly suggest you try Woodlands Vegetarian Indian Cuisine. The bathrooms are clean, the service is friendly, and the food is amazing and it's very reasonably priced. And if you're lucky, at least one of your kids will fill up on some good food that didn't come with a toy.