• Pub N Grub: Beer and Curry at Laurel Tavern and Gangadin

    April 13th, 2010mr meanergangadin, LA restaurants

    I grew up in the pubs and curry houses of England. I distinctly recall dodging in and out of doorways on many rainy nights as I made my way along cobbled streets between The Dog and Duck and Raj Palace in East London. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a pint followed by a curry – indeed, Indian food is now the national cuisine of England!

    I’m regretful that Indian food hasn’t really taken off that well in the USA, but most cities have a pretty good choice of excellent restaurants these days, and one of the best in LA is Gangadin in Studio City. We’ve raved about this place before, and couldn’t resist hitting it up again, but this time with a twist: We’d hit up a pub first just like back home!

    Our imbibing and culinary journey begins at Laurel Tavern, one of LA’s new crop of gastropubs nestled a few feet from Laurel Canyon Blvd. on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, and a three minute walk from Gangadin. Although Laurel Tavern can get pretty crazy during happy hour, if you get there before 6pm there are plenty of comfortable seats to enjoy your drink at.

    1903 by Craftsman

    For vegans, don’t even bother looking at the chalkboard menu. Nothing there is suitable for us – even the French Fries have pork fat drizzled over them. UGH. The beer selection is excellent, with many vegan offerings including the incredible Craftsman selection from Pasadena (our favorite is 1903, a crisp and light lager with strong alcohol taste and clean finish).

    Laurel Tavern has an industrial-style vibe with exposed brick, ironwork and cool lighting. The huge bar has many seats at it, and there’s a long seat against the main wall with many tables and configurations so you can have an intimate twosome or invite all your friends. Talking of friends, you won’t find friendlier bar staff anywhere in LA as the crew are cheerful, helpful and always nice – even when things start to get busy.

    So much for the pub, now let’s get some grub.

    Across the street and a little further east sits Gangadin, a small restaurant that has been serving Indian food from its Studio City location for over a quarter century. With its own vegan menu and a huge variety of vegetarian dishes, Gangadin goes out of its way to accommodate the edge cases of dietary preference.

    While many restaurants (Indian or otherwise) say that most menu items can be made vegan it’s wonderful to see a specific vegan menu where the chef has taken the time not just to consider what to leave out, but also what to add in.

    Tofu Pakoras: firm tofu dipped in spiced gram flour, fried. $6

    We started off with Tofu Pakoras which as far as I know are unique to Gangadin, and really showcase the inventiveness of the vegan menu. While pakoras are usually vegetables fried in flour, the substitution of tofu is a great idea – these things are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with a perfect balance of taste and texture.

    Gangadin's green chili tofu curry: tofu in spicy green chili cilantro w/ herbs and spices. $10.50

    Next up we shared a Green Chili Tofu Curry and an Aloo Gobhi. The tofu dish was exceptional, a combination of gloriously spicy sauce (with a very heavy cilantro chili taste) with large pieces of steamed tofu mixed in. Good Indian food has a subtlety of flavor as well as heat, and this dish didn’t disappoint.

    Aloo Gobhi: cauliflower and potatoes w/ sauteed tomatoes, ginger, and special ground spices. $10.50

    The Aloo Gobhi was also very tasty – chunks of potatoes and cauliflower pieces with tomatoes and spices make a great combination, and although this Aloo Gobhi didn’t stand out as the bet I’ve eaten (I’d have to go to London for that!), it was rather good.

    White Pullav rice with peas and cumin. $3

    We had a side of rice with peas which was pretty uneventful (I wonder just how eventful one can really get with just rice and peas) and the wonderful Gobhi Parantha, a multi-layer bread side that would be a scrumptious dish on its own.

    Gobhi Parantha: parantha stuffed w/ mildly seasoned cauliflower, baked int he tandoor. $3.50

    So, the winning combination of a great bar and awesome Indian restaurant within a few feet of each other is perfectly executed in Studio City. For the fully authentic experience, next time there’s a rainy evening in LA I’m going to walk from the pub to the curry house just like I would back home. There’s nothing like a hot curry to dry out clothes soaked in London rain. Or LA rain for that matter.

    12067 Ventura Place
    Studio City, CA 91604

    Laurel Tavern
    11938 Ventura Blvd
    Studio City, CA 91604

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16 responses to “Pub N Grub: Beer and Curry at Laurel Tavern and Gangadin” RSS icon

  • How have I never heard of this place/been here before??? I could ride my bicycle to this place!

  • I drink at the Laurel Tavern all the time, and I had no idea about Gangadin! An entirely separate menu? I’m sold!

  • That’s funny…The wife and I were at Laural Tavern on Sunday 4/11, around 1:00PM…..

  • I had no idea about Gangadin! And they have online ordering? Yeah, I just placed my dinner order for when I get home from work – SWEET.

  • I will meet you guys at either, or both, of these places for the next Q-Girl and Mr-M Pub ‘n Curry Run!!!

  • oh i love both of those places – they’re a short walk from my parents house, so i try to stop by whenever i’m over there.

    i’ll have to try the gobhi parantha next time, it looks delicious!

  • One bit of warning about using the online system to order – not all of the vegan menu items are online, like the pakoras (you’ll have to ask for substitutions in the notes, which you may receive a phone call to make sure you want stuff veganized.)

    Also, if you place an order to be delivered at a future date/time, they may mistake it for ASAP – I think I may have just talked to a delivery person that was under the impression that my order was for right now, and not this evening. Oops 🙁

  • I was really disappointed when I went to Gangadin. I found the food to just be ok and you can get much bigger portions for a lot less money at other places. (i.e. Electric Lotus 🙂 )

  • I’m from India so I’m very familiar with all these dishes! (I’m from India but born and raised in Los Angeles.)

    Anyways, lovely to see vegan versions of my country’s cuisine offered at a place in town 😀

  • How vegan friendly is Electric Lotus?

  • I agree with ¡Yo Soy Liz! Gandandin is weak at best. While they have a vegan menu they execute it poorly. I found the flavors not as satisfying as Great India Cafe which is down the street on Ventura. They will also prepare vegan dishes only they taste really good. I admit making it vegan requires at least some awareness for any restaurant. The job that quarry girl is doing with this blog is helping move more restaurants to that awareness. And because we support them more of them are supporting us.

  • Gandandin is probably the worst Indian food I’ve had in Los Angeles, or maybe, anywhere. Their ingredients are not fresh when it comes to the vegetables. Not impressed. I’m a vegetarian, their attempt at a vegan menu will not bring me in at all. just saying.

  • laurel tavern is the BEST. love it.

  • I went to Gangadin on Christmas Eve and absolutely loved the food. I must look like I have “VEGAN” stamped on my forehead because they immediately handed me the vegan menu before I had a chance to ask. I appreciated that attention! I had the green chili tofu curry and shared the gobi paratha as an appetizer. Everything was perfect and I’m disappointed I haven’t made it back there since that meal. I’d probably order the exact same thing again!

  • If you really like delicious, fresh ‘Indian’ food i.e. not Bangladeshi or Pakistani food then you need to travel to NYC and try Utsav. Otherwise take a trip to London..

  • Love your site, BUT… “Indian food hasn’t really taken off that well in the USA”??? What country are you living in? And are you REALLY living in LA, of all places???

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