Junoon, or “passion” in Hindi, is located just steps away from Eataly and Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Serving authentic yet elegantly modern Indian cuisine, the restaurant received the prestigious Michelin star the year it opened in 2010. This was our first visit to Junoon, a restaurant that offers a fine dining experience in their main dining room, and a more casual yet refined vibe in their front dining room, or Patiala Room, just opposite the bar.
We arrived at just after 5pm. The waiting area, or lounge, had almost a personality of its own with its grand Indian decor, like you were about to walk into a dining experience rather than just simply a meal.
The menu in the Patiala Room features their traditional a la carte menu with dishes such as paneers, kormas, and kebabs. Only offered in the main dining room is their gourmet tasting menu which is $115 per person with an optional wine pairing of $75. The entire table must participate in the tasting. There is also a $75 per person menu that includes a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert that is served with lentil, rice, bread, raita, and chutney tasting.
“We decide to feature specials on our spring menu to get a feeling for what dishes work well with our customers. At the end of the day it really depends on what they like. Spring time in NYC features a lot of exotic and beautiful produce so we like to play around with them and see how we can incorporate them with Indian food and our vision for the menu,” says Chef Akshay.
“The ambience of the dining room is elegant and tranquil It is a very spacious dining room so each guest has an abundance of privacy but you can expect the dining room to be full every night so there is a sense of high energy throughout the night.”
To drink, I chose the Jaswal mocktail: cucumber, lychee, fresh lime, and ginger beer ($10). The also have a Game of Thrones cocktail list with such drinks as King’s Landing with Greet King Street Scotch, and Red Viper with Bulldog Gin, and homemade cinnamon-orange bitters. They also have a selection of Indian whisky.
To start, we split the following appetizers:
- Eggplant Chaat: crispy eggplant, raita, tamarind chutney, red onion, chaat masala ($16)
- Lal Mirch Ka Paneer: housemade cheese, fig chutney, charred peach, confit peppers ($18)
- Five Pepper Scallop: seared diver scallop, five green pepper coulis, orange marmalade ($21)
My favorite was the Eggplant Chaat. The texture was perfect, the flavors were delicate and savory, and it was a dish that I left thinking about for some time. I will definitely be back for that one! Lal Mirch Ka Paneer had a significant amount of spice in each bite, and I really liked the scallop, especially the five green pepper coulis.
For our entrees, we split amongst three of us Garlic Naan with garlic and cilantro ($7); Murgh Labrabdar: tandoor grilled chicken, tomato sauce, fenugreek ($31); Malabari Shrimp: roasted coconut, jaggery, curry leaf, mustard seed ($36); Pulao Basmati Rice ($6); and a Chutney Tasting: three seasonal chutneys ($9). Our favorite was the Shrimp which paired beautifully with the fresh ingredients. The chutney tasting is a must!
View their full dinner menu here.
Dessert was extraordinary. I would come back just for that course if I was on a tight schedule for my next visit into the city. First, we tasted the Kulfi Pops: mango, paan leaf, rose petal, and saffron-cardamom (my favorite). Next was The Drunken Shahi Tukra: saffron cake, Amrut rum, and cardamom rabbi (both $15). My favorite dessert was the Shahi Tukra as it was delicate with soft, comforting flavors and spices with a perfect touch of rum as an after-note.
They also serve a full selection of coffee and hot tea.
Junoon can also host private events.
Junoon is open for lunch and dinner daily. Lunch is served from 12-3pm everyday. Dinner is served Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-10:30pm, and on Friday and Saturday until 11:30pm. The lounge is open from 5pm-close daily.
http://junoonnyc.com // 212-490-2100
*Header photo courtesy of Junoon NYC