Thursday, December 31, 2015

Loving Hut - Sandy Springs - Atlanta Georgia

You can find this location of Loving Hut at 220 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 - this is a row of buildings that climb up the hill to the City Walk Sandy Springs shopping center anchored by Kroger and across Hammond from Whole Foods. Parking is all long the row of buildings or in a pinch you can park in the main lot up the hill and walk down.

When you enter Loving Hut you'll be on the second floor - you order on the ground floor at a counter and find tables where you can upstairs. Ambiance is modernist and playful, more like a bakery than a restaurant. Specials seem to change frequently and are on chalkboards leading to the counter.

Loving Hut is a vegan restaurant, which appealed to the handful of Indian vegetarians where I work and who wanted to share a lunch with us (they usually bring in their own food). 

As a sidebar, I think it's hard for most Americans who are used to eating meat to understand the food needs of most vegetarian Indians - first there are varying degrees of vegetarianism - for instance, those in the South may be more apt to being vegetarian yet they occasionally eat fish if they're along the coast. Others will eat eggs but abstain from any forms of meat (eggatarians? ovatarians?) and all do dairy, mostly milk, clarified butter (ghee) and paneer (fresh milk cheese). Second, foods in India tend to be very well cooked as a practical matter, to extract the most nutrients as possible to feed the most people (and secondary to this it prevents bacterial illness due to bad water or food handling). Culturally, giving an Indian vegetarian a salad and thinking they will be satisfied is rather obtuse based on these two facts but there's a third. Most Indian foods tend to be cooked with herbs and spices that are very distinctive, especially the coriander, cumin, cardamon, ginger and tumeric (this last is what provides the distinctive flavor and color of what Americans know as "curry"). Meals that don't include these spices are very bland to most Indian people and just doesn't taste good to them, I've found.

In any case, I came with a group that included a handful of Indians about half are vegetarians so Loving Hut was an ideal restaurant to try. Personally I've eaten at many vegetarian restaurants and the best I've found are over by the Patel Bros - Chat Patti is one of my favorites. Most American vegetarian restaurants I've found to be very bland - across the street from Loving Hut is Sunflower Cafe which I've visited a handful of times over the years and every time I've been very hopeful and every time I've been very disappointed. So where am I going with this? I found the food that I tired at Loving Hut to be exceptional - I ordered the Basil Lasagna and the dish was superb, more like what you would receive in a good Italian restaurant instead of a vegetarian one. I think the secret was the sauce which was well above par.

We started with some spring rolls that I thought were OK, but nothing special. Other items ordered included a Felafal Wrap, a Black Bean Burger, Chow Mein, a House Stir-Fry, the House Curry, and of course the Lazagna Special. From the comments and small bites of each I tried, everything was quite good. I'm not sure if my Indian friends liked it much, the opinions seemed to vary. In all, the food to me was above par compared to other veggie restaurants.

The service was good but nothing special - since you order at the counter it's basically a drop-delivery to your table. No complaints but nothing to report here. This is now my go to place for vegan.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Loving Hut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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