Tucked away in the heart of Tribeca sits an Indian restaurant that demands a visit. If you are as much an Indian food connoisseur as I am, you need to know about Benares Tribeca. I had an inspiring meal there last night that I am eager to tell you about.
Benares Tribeca, which is located on Murray Street downtown, is known for honoring the 28 states of India, specifically Northern India. The restaurant is modern, with banquette seating and hardwood floors, red wall accent pieces, and a bar with a lounge area. I was surprised by how nice and trendy the restaurant is, while managing to keep a strong attachment to its homeland inspiration. The Ganges is represented by a mobile dividing panel containing a window in the shape of the river, with embedded rose petals floating in the glass. The bar is highlighted by paintings of India from the Victoria and Albert Museum, photographed and reprinted on aluminum.
The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner with a delivery option also available to the neighborhood. It’s also child-friendly – I know because my son is a huge fan of Indian food and he fell in love with the left-overs that I brought home.
As a vegetarian, I can tell you that the menu, which is partially inspired by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Peter Beck, is diverse and wide-ranging. Carnivores can have their share of meat, from lamb to chicken to beef, while vegetarians like me can enjoy dishes such as Malai Kofta, vegetable and cheese dumplings cooked in a cashew and onion gravy and Khasta Gobhi, lightly battered crisp cauliflower with garlic and crushed pepper in a tangy sauce. The latter was easily my favorite dish of the night. It melted in my companion and I’s mouthes, and being the first dish we sampled, we were gob smacked, realizing what kind of special restaurant Benares truly is.
We started our meal with a serving of Bhel Puri, puffed spiral-shaped rice crisps tossed with chutney. They were fresh and the sauces very tangy and spicy. Our appetizers were all delicious. We tried Galouti Kebab, Fish Malai Tikka. Our entrees included Saag Paneer, a spinach and cheese dish, Chicken Curry and Lamb Vindaloo. Other dishes we tried that were out of this world included Galouti Kebab, lam shoulder marinated with papaya and Chef’s special spices; Dahi Ke Kebab, creamy, seasoned fried yogurt patties; Chicken Tikka Smokey with clove, smoked curry yogurt, served with mint; Cheema Thenga, plump jumbo prawns in coconut milk curry.
Hungry yet? You have to be. Our meal isn’t over yet. For dessert, we tried the Pistachio Kulfi, which incorporated an Indian twist. I’m curious about the Atom Bomb, warm chocolate brownie surrounded by scoops of rose-flavored ice cream, or the Gulab Jamun, condensed milk roundels soaked in sugar syrup. But I’m glad I have more to sample on my next visit to Benares.
Benares TriBeCa is located at 45 Murray Street, 212-766-4900, www.benaresnyc.com, and is open for lunch Mon-Sun from 11:30am-3:00pm. Lunch specials are a steal ($10.95-16.95), with a choice of three courses in vegetarian, non-vegetarian, seafood or tandoori, all served with Banarsi dal, steamed rice, naan or paratha and dessert. Dinner is served daily from 5pm-10:30pm.
Disclosure: My visit to Benares Tribeca was complimentary to facilitate this review and others, but all opinions are my own.