Gourmet Indian Restaurant Suggestions
I'm heading to NYC in April & would like to have dinner at a gourmet Indian -- or Indian-fusion -- restaurant in Manhattan. I've heard the following are good, but the reviews seem to be fairly old. What do people think are the best places to go (on this list or otherwise)?
* Ada - 208 E. 58th St. reviews: [Gayot /13] [Google/3]
* Bay Leaf - 49 W. 56th St. reviews: [Gayot/13] [Google/4]
* Bukhara Grill - 217 E. 49th St. reviews: [Gayot/12]
* Dawat - 210 E. 58th St. reviews: [Gayot/14] [Google/4]
* Devi 8 - E. 18th St. reviews: [Gayot/14]
* Leela Loung - 1 W. Third St. (Broadway) reviews: [Gayot/13]
* Shaan - 57 W 48th St reviews: [Gayot/14] [Google/5]
* Saphire - 1845 Broadway reviews: [Gayot/13]
* Tamarind - 41-43 E. 22nd St. reviews: [Gayot/13]
* Tabla Bread Bar - 11 Madison Ave. (25th St.)
I agree with the others. Tamarind is the only restaurant I consider to be sufficiently different from the others when it comes to fine dining and Indian food. The Tabla Bread Bar is a nice place to go for the ambiance, but their food is more "Indian inspired" than actually Indian and expensive considering there is no meal and just a bunch of appetizers. The menu at Leela Lounge offers some different Indian dishes than the typical ones at restaurants. The food was good, but seemed inconsistent from visit to visit. My appetizers had all come with interesting dipping sauces, and the next time I ordered I was dismayed to find all the dipping sauces had been replaced with the typical green mint-coriander chutney (although it didn't say it on the menu). I think however, Tamarind and Tabla Bread Bar are notch above Leela Lounge when it comes to the ambiance, decor, and service.
IMO, most of the other Indian restaurnants in the city offer the same menu. The only difference is that places like Bay Leaf and Dawat just charge a lot more for the Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Vindaloo which tastes nearly identical to the take out place down the street.
I haven't been to Devi though, seems to be a favorite of the other posters.
hmm...a few thoughts:
-- i've heard good things about Devi but i've never been...
-- most of the "upscale" Indian places (e.g. Chola) i've been to have been disgusting: they think that by adding an extra stick of butter per dish they can charge 4x as much as taxi stand Indian...
-- Table Bread Bar was far and away one of the worst meals i've ever had in NYC and made me want to sell my apartment and flee the city, if that's what people are ooohing and aaaahing about here: a pretentious, vile joke of a restaurant...
-- when i want Indian food and don't feel like cooking, i go the First St. taxi stands for takeout, get some great beer or wine, and enjoy the whole mess at home...
-- if you are in NYC for brief period of time, be aware that Indian food is not what we do best: in fact, almost any other cuisine is better represented in this city...that said, many chowhounds do love Devi...
The OP wanted to know thoughts on upscale, or as they said, 'gourmet' Indian or Indian Fusion in NYC. They were not asking for the 'best' in all of NYC, or the most 'authentic'. There is sometimes more to food than street food, taxi stands, or hole in the walls, which can be sensational, but don't have the ambience, a bar, or even serve beer and wine. Sometimes there is the aspect of a lovely environment, drinks, and good or fine service...and a menu with a twist.
Perhaps Indian isn't represented in NYC in the way you want or expect, but many restaurants thus far mentioned are wonderful options to have an enjoyable experience.
What do you mean by First Street taxi stands?
And - I like the menu and food at Tamarind very much, and I love the service. I think Tabla is a more colorfully and dramatically decorated place, haven't eaten there as often - but if I was in the mood for a more glamourous feeling I'd go there, for quieter elegance to Tamarind.
I don't know what the poster meant by First Street Taxi stands, but I am guessing there is a huge gap between them and what the OP was asking for, which was a "gourmet" or "Indian fusion" experience, and had a list of possibilities, none of which were hole in the walls or any kind of a 'stand' experience. Not every meal we experience is going to be nirvana, but there is a huge difference between pick up/take out/cooking and going somewhere for ambience, service, drinks. I go often to NYC, I lived there for three recent years, and sometimes when I get to the city I want my Indian, but I want it with environment, service, drinks. I don't think of anything less. It may not be perfection, and there may be more butter, but I am happy. Again, Tabla, Tamarind, Devi, Chola and not in that order, just what is right at the time.
Absolutely love Tabla Bread Bar. I'm not sure if they'll be serving outside yet, but if they are, that is even better.
I rate Devi and Tamarind. I sent some friends to Tamarind the other day, and they had a great experience there too. It is a bit of a scene sometimes, but that's fine because the food is great.
I would not go to Bay Leaf or Shaan. I just don't think they are anything special.
Tabla, Tamarind, Devi! A bit less upscale, but still fabulous is Chola. Those are my four. I go between three cities in my life, and I only wish there were comparable restaurants in Los Angeles. I don't expect such in New Orleans, but in LA? So, will be heading back to NYC for my fix soon!
I have been to all but Leela Loung. BTW, Shaan is closed. Devi is consistently the best. Tabla upstairs is more interesting (and more expensive) than the Bread Bar and has a more interesting wine list than Devi. Tamarind is also good. The others are more traditional Indian, albeit often good.
kobetobiko, You are not correct in describing Devi's cuisine as Indian fusion. The fact is that Suvir Saran bases the menu items on recipes from his family and friends in India, and what he does it take them to what I think is a haute cuisine level. And, as you probably know, I think it is truly superb and highly recommend it.
Looking at the list, I see Tabla's Bread Bar. In my view, the food there is correctly labeled Indian fusion, and the same goes for the more upscale cuisine at Tabla. While I've enjoyed the food at Bread Bar, it doesn't hold the proverbial candle to what is being served at Devi. So, if the o.p. is looking for a "gourmet" meal, he can eliminate Bread Bar from the list.