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Woodlands - Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine
When it comes to dining out in Florida, one thing is certain - if you are a meat eater and have a big appetite you will think you have died and gone to heaven! Vegetarians however have tended to draw something of a short straw when it comes to finding suitable meals. For a start there is the differing attitude as to what actually constitutes a vegetarian meal. For instance many restaurants will serve chicken in a salad and not regard that as meat!
Luckily and quite by accident we found a solution while getting horribly lost near the Florida Mall. We noticed out of the corner of our eyes a resaurant set back from the road with its billboard proudly advertising "Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine". Those around us must have though we had gone mad; after doing a double-take we ground to a halt not believing our luck.
So much for finding it but what about the restaurant itself? Well, it's called Woodlands and is situated on South Orange Blossom Trail just north of The Florida Mall. The surroundings are distinctly warm and hospitable and the first thing you will notice is that this is a restaurant that is not particularly trying to woo the tourist, but the majority of the clientele seem to be Asians living in the area - always a good sign that the quality of the food will no doubt be to their exacting standards. Indeed it does not disappoint - in fact prepare yourself for an exciting and mouth-watering array of dishes. We try to have something different every time we go but to start I particularly love the mixed Vegetable Pakora which are a selection of vegetables deep-fried with spices, or the Vegetable Samosas which are stuffed with potatoes and peas. For the sheer drama of its presentation, there is nothing to beat the Paper Dosai as a main course. A huge cone shaped crispbread arrived the first time we chose this dish, which overhung the plate by quite a margin. Various dips including Coconut Chutney and of course the obligatory potato and onion were included with the meal. Unfortunately, they now seem to have changed the presentation of this dish and the cone shaped crispbread is rather more flat in shape and a bit smaller, but the taste is the same as the one we know and love. There are of course numerous side dishes, rices and breads on the menu to enhance your meal. For dessert we love the Gulab Jamoon which is cottage cheese and milk balls which are fried in syrup and rose water. If this is your first experience of South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine we would recommend you go for a Thali which is an assortment of different dishes giving you the opportunity to taste a large variety of items on the menu.
All in all a very pleasurable experience which we try to repeat each time we visit Orlando. Prices are very reasonable ranging from about $3.50 for a starter and $6 on average for a main course to $15 for the largest Thali which even includes tea or coffee.
Woodlands can be found at 6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL 32809. Tel: 407-854-3330. They are open Tuesday to Sunday and close on Mondays. If you are vegetarian, try it and you won't be disappointed. If you are a meat eater you MUST try it as it will change the way you think about vegetarian food. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
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