Veda brings upscale Indian fare to Rittenhouse

Entrance of Veda, 1920 Chestnut St., is through a sliding glass door.

Inder Singh, seeking to venture out from his "9-to-6" engineering job, had been scouring the area for a small space to open a neighborhood-friendly Indian restaurant.

Every lead, though, fell through.

After mentioning his frustrations to the head of the company where he worked, the executive set him up with a real-estate agent, who showed him 1920 Chestnut St., which was the polished Italian restaurant Le Castagne. 

"That would too big of a project for myself," said Singh, 31. 

So his old boss, who is keeping a low profile, decided to back Singh's modern Indian bistro.

What cinched the deal for Singh was the signing of chef Vipul Bhasin, owner of Coriander in Voorhees and Indiya in Collingswood. 

Veda opened just before New Year's (1920 Chestnut St., 267-519-2001). The contemporary dining room is set beneath cone-shape chandeliers and in front of a large mural. The energetic bar - which has been full nightly - is set off to the side, tucked behind floor-to-ceiling glass off the building lobby. The only holdover from Le Castagne is the iron wine-storage cabinet.

The restaurant has a space-saving automatic sliding glass door, which - free of a door handle - is actually welcoming.

Besides appetizers (spinach chaat, masala crab cakes), the moderate-priced north Indian menu (top price: $23) emphasizes kebabs. It's open from lunchtime (where the fixed-price option is $15 and $16) through late-night daily.

Dinner menu is here. Lunch menu is here. Bar menu is here.

Veda is named for the sacred Hindu texts, and there's a library motif behind the bar and in a bookshelf near the entrance.