The Ansley Mall Starbucks, I have learned, is not the best place to propose marriage.
I was there the Friday the Supreme Court legalized voluntary imprisonment. As usual, I was waiting for my dinner pals. An attractive man was sitting across from me, ears wired to his laptop, busily typing away.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I was wondering if you and I could get married.”
He laughed. “I’m not, um, that way,” he said. “But maybe if I were … ”
“Oh,” I interrupted. “The decision allows marriage between members of the same gender. You don’t have to be gay. I could keep your parents away from your death bed.”
He laughed again and put his earphones back on as I sipped my triple macchiato, the only drink there that I like.
My friends soon arrived and we decided to go to Masti in Toco Hills Shopping Center (2945 N. Druid Hills Rd., 470-236-2794, www.mastiatlanta.com). This is a relatively new spot that serves a clever fusion of Indian and American dishes without sacrificing traditional flavors.
We were seated almost immediately. The manager came by to tell us our server would be with us shortly.
“Would you like to get married?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied and ran away. Our server, female, was not interested in marrying either. By this time, my friends were scarlet.
I’ve paid two visits to the restaurant and have loved almost everything. There are plenty of traditional dishes, like masala dosa. That’s a gigantic rice-flour pancake rolled around a curried potato filling (others are available). Pani puri is another classic—hollow, crunchy orbs that you break open and fill with a slightly spicy sauce or some tamarind water. Try the Nepali-style dumplings filled with ground chicken or vegetables. It should be obvious that there are lots of vegetarian options here.
Branch out and order the strips of okra fried in a very light batter with aromatic, exotic flavors. There are tacos made of uttapams (thick pancakes) folded over your choice of fillings like ground chicken or paneer (a fresh cheese). There are hot dog buns filled with kababs or paneer and burgers stuffed with masala chicken, served with not-so-good fries. Many of the dishes are flavored with the restaurant’s “Masti sauce.” It can, at turns, taste a bit too sweet for my taste, but it’s a definite novelty.
I could go on to describe countless other dishes, including thali sampler plates and some pretty weird beverages, but it will take more than a few visits to work through the lengthy menu.
We skipped dessert at Masti—an error, according to friends—and went to the nearby Bruster’s for “real ice cream” that, frankly, doesn’t hold a candle to Morelli’s or High Road. But a huge scoop of dulce de leche hit the spot.
While there, I noticed a guy, maybe 20, eating an absolutely gigantic sundae. I asked him if he was going to eat the whole thing himself. His two female friends laughed. Then, for the last time that night, I asked the guy if he’d like to get married. His girlfriends said, “Yes, yes, do it!” He declined but offered me a bite of the sundae.
Cliff Bostock, PhD, is a longtime Atlanta restaurant critic and former psychotherapist now specializing in life coaching for creative types and those in so-called midlife crisis. www.cliffbostock.com.