Kate Ward
October 05, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Oh, rats! While watching the Sept. 26 episode of Gordon Ramsay’s new series Kitchen Nightmares — in which the hotheaded, foulmouthed chef made over a vermin-infested Indian joint — we couldn’t help but notice its location: just two blocks from EW’s New York offices. So how could we resist visiting the overhauled eatery a day later to (gulp) sample its new menu? With roughly a dozen diners seated during the Sept. 27 lunch hour, the revamped restaurant — now dubbed Purnima — seems to be off to a so-so start. But the food has clearly improved since a disgusted Ramsay found moldy hamburgers in the kitchen and realized rotten tomatoes were prepared for a customer. New executive chef Vikas Khanna served up a savory chicken tikka masala, smooth apple chutney, and a succulent mango sorbet. And the kitchen, which was exposed on Nightmares as a hellhole teeming with flies, cockroaches, and rat droppings, is clean now — Khanna insisted on showing us around the spotless operation. But manager Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn admits that ”for some, [the images are] going to be indelible, and they won’t be able to get over it.” Still, Blackmore-Dobbyn says he’s fielded several phone calls from viewers who want to drop by and judge for themselves. Perhaps this nightmare is just about over.

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