DinnerDate: Installment One, Sangeet

Heidi: I knocked on Bekka’s door, bouquet clasped tightly in hand, to find a stylish girl, radiant in smart thrift-store casuals. Hello.

Bekka: I opened the door to find a slightly dowdy young maiden holding a droopy bouquet. Heidi had stopped and shopped. And saved.

Before we could speak, the butler announced our ride: a puny fellow, devoid of natural graces. “Let’s go,” he smirked, jerking his thumb towards an unimpressively apportioned ’89 Taurus. “The love-mobile awaits.” We piled into the back, ready to exchange more appropriate introductions – a venture immediately thwarted by the din of the driver’s unfortunate 90s party standards mix.

For 40 minutes we endured this wretched accompaniment, oftentimes punctuated by the chauffeur’s inane chatter and driving problems. Finally, we arrived at our dining destination.

Sangeet is fortuitously situated on Route 8 in Pittsfield, noble sister city to Nicaragua’s Malpaisillo. A former I-Hop, the building retains much of the character of a pancake house, although the interior offers some subtle North Indian charms. As we entered, the chauffeur impudently insisted on making our twosome a threesome, but we thanked him to look after the carriage. “Treat me like a peon, will you!” he seethed, shaking his fist menacingly before stalking away to a nearby McDonald’s. Peace at last. We noted the decor: an antique tabla began to enchant Bekka, while its sitar neighbor impressed Heidi.

The maitre’d proved sullen, cross and unhygienic – flecks of Basmati-matter clung to his unwashed trousers. With quiet derision, he led us to our booth and disdainfully distributed menus.

To begin our meal, we each opted for the lunch buffet, which costs $8.95. Both of us sampled rich sambar lentil soup, a slightly spicy concoction unfortunately plagued by squishy, overcooked veggies. Heidi tried uttapam, a pancake-like product festooned with peas. “Blech!” she exclaimed in horror, realizing that the supposedly foreign foodstuff was little more than oily Bisquick-stuff. Fortunately, the butter naan proved more palatable, especially when paired with Sangeet’s wide array of chutneys. So did chana saag, a lightly seasoned vegetarian spinach-chickpea combo. Perhaps the most spectacular dish, however, was chicken malahania – normally curry-sweet tomato-chicken combo. Sangeet’s version, while visually tempting, was strangely prepared with what seemed like angry, rejected chicken scraps. Not a lovely end for our buffet forays, but more was in store.

The buffet option confers all-you-can-eat benefits, but the limited offerings left us unsatisfied. We ordered a couple of menu items as well, which we found to be of slightly superior quality. Bekka sampled the Malai Kofta, one of numerous vegetarian dishes. Balls of vaguely cheesy vegetable mush swam in a sea of mild cream sauce: a bit on the bland side, but overall not bad.

Heidi ordered the Mushroom Masala, an interesting concept plate of mushrooms, cilantro and curry spices in this case sadly concocted with cheap, generically canned mushrooms. The dish was mediocre, fatty-like and unsatisfying, especially given its $10 price tag. It did, however, come with complementary rice and, surprisingly enough, bested most of the buffet offerings.

For dessert, we returned again to the buffet, eager to try kheer, a soupy rice creation flavored by almonds and rosewater. The dish’s overwhelming preponderance of rosewater inspired us to order the check: we’d had enough. Unfortunately, the restaurant tried to substantially overcharge us for our meal – we rectified the matter and meekly headed out to meet our increasingly berserk chauffer.

As for the getting-to-know-you aspect of our meal, things got off to a shaky start, with Bekka disgusted by the sizable portions of food clinging to Heidi’s hair and face, and Heidi appalled by Bekka’s incorrigible tendency to stare off with vicious vacancy. The potential for romance was also hampered by the maniacal chauffeur, who intermittently reappeared outside our window angrily brandishing a Big Mac. But through our conversation at Sangeet we discovered our deeply-set mutual appreciation for bread. Auspicious, indeed!

All in all, we found Sangeet disappointing, but would nonetheless like to thank the Record for matchmaking success. The wedding is tentatively scheduled for next week.