Review by Lesley Chesterman, Fine Dining critic at the Montreal Gazette
Published on Sep 08, 2007
"The location is an eye-opener for any Montreal gourmet, as Devi is situated in the building that last housed Les Halles. It's odd sitting in this former temple of French gastronomy and looking up at Indian wood carvings, peach-coloured frescos and giant Buddha near the bar. But let there be no doubt that this kitchen takes its native cuisine as seriously as the latter.
" . . . I spotted several tables filled with Indian diners, drawn here no doubt for the short but diverse menu of chicken, lamb, vegetable, seafood and fish dishes prepared either in a tandoor oven or fried, as well as a small selection of soups, salads, rice dishes and, of course, all those scrumptious flat breads.
"We began with that British/Indian favourite, chicken tikka masala. At Devi it's pan-fried, flavoured with onion and tomato, and served as an appetizer in succulent little nuggets, devoid of the usual pool of orange-coloured sauce and paired simply with a few lettuce leaves. Slightly spicy and incredibly tender, the chicken was polished off in seconds.
"We also inhaled a dish of kararee bhindi, the okra-based signature dish of the New York restaurant. Sliced thin and deep-fried, the okra is tossed with a mild spice mix. Every bite is crisp, exotic and very salty, reminiscent of a snack food as opposed to the classic stir-fry I expected.
"Devi's samosas were crisp and golden with a highly seasoned, smooth potato and pea filling to contrast the flaky crust. I could have eaten a dozen.
"Equally delicious were the tandoor-roasted baby lamb shanks ("raan"). Lamb shanks are now such common bistro fare that I've probably tasted a dozen variations this year alone. Yet this rendition was my favourite. Falling-off-the-bone tender and lightly spiced with saffron and ground nuts, the lamb needed only a few spoonfuls of raita to add a teensy tang.
"With such lush surroundings and superb food, Devi is a welcome addition to Montreal's Indian food scene. Iron-out the service details and we'll be looking at a worthy successor for this famous restaurant address – another high temple of gastronomy."
Review by Nicholas Robinson, food critic at MontrealFood.com
Published Jun, 2007
"Welcome to Devi, a truly Indian restaurant - as opposed to Bangladeshi or Pakistani - buried right here in the throbbing center of Montreal, the place where some would argue that all things Montreal converge: Crescent Street.
"The Strip. Formula One. Winnie's. Newtown. Hard Rock Café. Tourists like army ants, swarming the terrasses and quaffing their Boréale Blondes with red-faced enthusiasm.
"The interior is wood-luxe and spacious. Bay windows look upon the summer mayhem that is Crescent Street on a warm evening.
"One look at the menu and you know you're not in a London curry house any more. While some familiar staples remain: Chicken Tikka Masala, (the "National Dish of Britain,") and Butter Chicken, unfamiliar ones pop out at you. What on earth is Chicken Chettinad Korma? Why, chicken curry cooked with onion, tomato, coconut, tamarind and curry leaves, silly. And Nihari?
"Never heard of it? Lamb curry made with onion, gram flour, garam masala and other arcane Indian spices. I defy you to find it on 99% of the other "Indian" restaurants in Montreal. Can't be done.
"The shrimp were jumbos, rolled up tightly, tails on, marinated with a mixture of what seemed to be ginger and garlic and chilies with a heavy dose of black pepper in a sour-cream-based sauce. I would go back every night just for that crunch-squish-meaty-shrimpy taste implosion, if circumstances permitted. Both were accompanied with a side of baby greens bathed in an unearthly vinaigrette slammed with a hefty dose of spice.
"I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala "extra hot" and my companion ordered the Chicken Korma. I know, safe bets, but we wanted to see how the kitchen handled the basics.
"While not as hot as I'd have liked, the Tikka was unctuously insinuating, moist and earthy in a rich brown spice-studded sauce that wedded with the fluffy saffron basmati rice most satisfactorily. My companion opted for the naan, he being of a Northern persuasion, and he happily plucked up his Korma - chicken in a creamy white sauce made of onion, yogurt, cashew, almond paste and cardamom - with gusto.
"The service, it might be mentioned, was attentive - one might even say overly attentive, but it's what one might expect from a nervous restaurant open only one month.
"There's no telling how this little Indian jewel will fare in this sea of sub-continental competition, and no telling how it will prosper while surrounded by a sea of unabashed consumerism, but if it continues along this mouthwatering path, we certainly think it will."
Reviews by RestoMontreal.ca visitors
"Having arrived in Montreal a mere 3 weeks ago, my husband and I were in need of some spicy food. We looked online, found restomontreal (what a fabulous site for a newcomer!) and made our way to Devi’s which is a hop, skip and jump away from our home.
"I had a good feel about the restaurant from the moment I walked in, the deco, the beautiful lamps, the friendly wait staff and only hoped that the food would not disappoint. It did not!
"Often, you find that spicy is a relative term depending on where you are geographically. We like our food HOT and specifically requested our food to be made even more spicy and the chef at Devi’s complied. We had the Boti Kabab as a starter then moved on to the Kadai Chicken and Paneer Bhurjee. We had our mains with portions of saffron rice and plain naan and they went beautifully together.
"The food was excellent. The lamb was tender and just the right side of spicy for us, the chicken and paneer were flavourful and all dishes were in generous portions. We compared Devi’s to some of our favourite restaurants back home and it held its own.
"We truly enjoyed our meal and would recommend it to anyone who’d like a taste of real North Indian food. With good food, friendly service and fair prices, Devi’s is a winner on all counts. We went back for seconds on my birthday – the very next day!"
"I very highly recommend this Restaurant for any Special Occasion.
"On Aug. 7th 2008, we were placed in the 3rd. floor to celebrate my son and his bride-to-be’s Wedding Rehearsal Dinner. Although it was originally to be a Buffet, the servers changed it to be served at our tables.
"Due to some of us being Vegans, the menu consisted of all Vegan items along with Butter Chicken and the Dessert being the only exceptions. The servers checked with my wife and I as to when we wished to be served.
"Our son had arranged for Appetizers, Main Course and Dessert.
"The Delicious meal consisted of MORE ITEMS than was expected. The food was served Piping Hot where appropriate and came Freshly prepared from the Kitchen with an explanation for each dish. This format allowed our guests to converse and mix in with others.
"We feel the Chef and the Staff did a WONDERFUL JOB and the cost was Very Very GOOD!"
By "R. Sareen"
"Devi is an upscale Indian-cuisine restaurant that succeeds because of its great location (right in the middle of downtown Crescent St.) and its enjoyable food menu.
"The grilled vegetable platter is a perfect blend of bbq & veggies (with tangy pineapple pieces mixed in!) The shammi kababs are delicious; cooked exactly like a homemade dish – the meat is soft, melting in your mouth & the surprise mozarella center gives it a uniquely tasty spin.
"The other meat dishes are slightly over-salted, but the portions are great for two/tree people to share.
"The atmosphere is chic, with dimly-lit lights all around the main floor. The young servers are helpful & give you enough time to choose your meal among so many mouth-watering choices.
"The prices are considerably higher compared to other smaller Indian restaurants around town, but Devi is a great place to bring clients and a well-deserving way to treat yourself! Enjoy!"