The Red Lentil

New Haven Area, Connecticut

Closed as of Oct 8 12

25 Temple Street
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 891-7105

Vegetarian

3.8 / 5 votes

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World vegetarian cuisine

Restaurant, Coffee/Tea/Juice, Caterer

Offers a variety of dishes from around the world including vegan waffles, tofu scramble, seitan with teff, shepherd's pie, herb-crusted tofu with corn cakes, vegan pizzas and more.

Added by conde.kedar on Jul 12 11 (last updated Oct 15 12)

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Red Lentil is a vegetarian restaurant long needed in and overdue for New Haven. Its menu is more eclectic than ethnic, but with a leaning toward Asian Indian, and with a small helping of dishes lifted from the menu of It’s Only Natural (ION). Portions are generous, cost is moderate, and food mostly is good. Exotic dishes are excellent, and the more extraordinary the dish the better it is likely to be. But more conventional dishes do tend to fall short of expectations, as Conde Kedar astutely observes in his review a month ago. For instance, in the category of fried food (true confessions! though i hardly hunger for it, in my feeble old age i have relinquished abidance to my usually high nutritional standards, and i have been eating fried foods, but only at vegetarian restaurants, because you never know what else has been fried in that oil), their Gobi Manchurian (fried cauliflower) is outstanding, but their Sweet Potato Fries are disappointing, especially when compared to those served at nearby ION or G Zen. In Red Lentil’s favor, theirs are half the price. On account of a multiplex movie theater directly across the street, even at night the street parking, in a word, sucks. As you usually must resort to the cavernous parking garage directly overhead (really!), parking also is expensive, but compensated by the cost of the meal, which is moderate. Seating is spacious and comfortable, especially if you are seated at a booth, and the wait staff does not rush you out of the place, not even when nearing closing, so you leisurely can sit and enjoy your company and the food, except for that dang parking meter.

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Red Lentil fills a much needed niche in New Haven for a respectable, friendly, creative vegetarian restaurant. This place easily takes the crown for the best vegetarian food in the city, handily beating Thali Too and uber-bland Claire's. Moreover, Red Lentil offers unusually smart and sophisticated dishes that you won't find anywhere else; this is a true rarity and cannot be overlooked. All that said, there are a number of duds on the menu, all listed below.

The gobi manchurian appetizer ($8) is the best appetizer on the menu. Basically it's crispy, fried cauliflower covered in a spicy and savory sauce with green onions. A standard of "Indo-Chinese" cuisine, I'm glad that Red Lentil chooses to offer it, because they do it well here. The sesame seitan appetizer ($8) is tasty, but far too expensive considering the small portion size. Avoid the samosas and vegetable dumplings, which were passable, at best. Lastly, I'd also avoid the soy chicken strips with bbq sauce ($6.50); this dish just felt dry and chalky in flavor.

On the dinner menu, I'd first and foremost recommend the pistachio-encrusted tofu ($14.50) which is a beautifully presented dish consisting of tofu slices and a wonderful pistachio coating. How often do you see pistachios on restaurant menus? Not often. And this dish works like a charm.

The near east seitan with teff ($14.50) is also a brilliant pairing which I'd never seen before and the fenugreek sauce mixes nicely with both the seitan and the unusual teff.

The shepherd's pie ($16) is also solid and a nice recreation of a traditionally meaty meal.

Avoid the butternut squash polenta, and pizzas and burritos. These dishes come across and pedestrian and bland. It's almost as if Red Lentil stumbles on simple dishes, and executes only on sophisticated and daring plates, such as the seitan with teff and the pistachio tofu.

For brunch, the tofu scramble is excellent, as are the waffles. Be warned that the waffles are really rich and dessert-esque and will fill you up quickly.

For lunch, the veggie burger is unimpressive with a crumbly texture and awful white flour bun. The red lentil soup is respectable, though, and more reminiscent of an Indian dal than anything else.

Avoid the desserts, as well. The first time around I got a slice of chocolate blueberry cake, which sounded interesting as a flavor combination, but in reality was executed poorly. The cake was crumbly and horribly dry. It was inedible, to be frank.

This is a great place to take a date or a mixed group, which is also a nice feature. The service is always friendly, though you should expect a wait at peak times (Friday and Saturday nights and holidays). I think the restaurant needs a better staffing plan for certain times of the week.

On a whole, Red Lentil is a winner. Just remember this rule of thumb: if it's an unusual dish or has ingredients you've never seen paired before, get it. If it's a more traditional offering, avoid it.

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Neighborhood

Downtown

Directions

Across the street from the Criterion Cinemas.

Non-Smoking

Accepts Reservations

Prices

$$ - average

Payment

  • American Express Discover MasterCard Visa

Cuisines

  • American
  • Eclectic (Varied)

Features

  • (Mostly) Organic
  • Brunch
  • Private Rooms

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carrot cake

carrot cake

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Hours

11am - 9:30pm
11am - 10pm
9am - 10pm
9am - 3pm;
5pm - 9:30pm

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