Have you ever been incredibly torn between craving the delicious and complex flavors of Indian food and also feeling like after four days of salads being delivered and intense late night Netflixing you need to get dressed up and go out for a nice meal?
It happens to everyone. I love so much about Indian cuisine, while also being embarrassingly naïve about the actual spices and sauces and preparation of the meals so that it’s never something I dare create at home. There are plenty of mid-level places that are a far cry from your hole in the wall sort of joint, but even still you’re wearing nice slacks boots and a sweater there—not toasting with bubbly in a gold sequined dress and wandering into foreign dishes with the utmost of confidence, thanks to your crazy knowledgeable wait staff.
For a slightly more expensive elevated dining experience that you won’t be able to stop talking for months to come, you must visit Indian Accent, Manish Mehrotra’s restaurant in Le Parker Meridien Hotel. The soothing white-and-gold-toned space is populated by fleets of loquacious bartenders dressed in dark Nehru jackets, along with assorted globe-trotting nabobs, many of whom were clustered around the bar sipping tall, colorful drinks with names like Mughal Fortification and Bagpipes for Bangalore.
Chef Mehrotra, who comes from the ancient city of Patna in northeastern India, spins out similarly flowery taste combinations (soy keema made with soy and topped with quail yolk; crisped, cricket-ball-size dosas flecked with hints of black truffle that completely trick your taste buds in the best way possible; servings of potato sphere chaat with white pea mash).
The evening starts with an amuse-bouche of the hour, and whatever you are served, it will entice and excite you for the rest of the evening. Our ‘shot’ of soup was the perfect blend of sweet, savory, and spiciness to get your taste buds prepped for the rest of the night, and the blue cheese-stuffed mini naan that appears whether or not you order it is simply breath taking.
We visited and had the pleasure of meeting Chef Mehrotra last Spring when the restaurant was pretty green, but when we heard there was a new menu in the works we were making a reservation faster than you can say Makhan Malai (the beautiful saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle, almond dessert that we are absolutely obsessed with and thankfully made the cut). We will miss the Tasting of Papads, but such is life…
The menu keeps the integrity of Indian Accent’s concept—exploring progressive ideas in Indian cuisine while maintaining traditional integrity. It’s all about reinterpreting nostalgic Indian dishes with an openness towards global techniques and influences. So the menu keeps that philosophy intact, while introducing new seasonal dishes and a new menu format that allows for a grander tasting menu (as well as a pre-theatre dinner menu, since we are in the heart of Broadway’s finest here).
You’ll find familiar street foods turned haute cuisine, retaining the flavor and essence of the dish while being seriously elevated. Honestly it’s hard to single out a particular dish, since it’s created with such flow and the meal works together as an experience, but turnip korma with lamb and potato cheela and salmon with dill and chutney potatoes rather knocked our socks off.
And I’m serious about the Makhan Malai for dessert—if you only order one thing, make it this soft and sharp, sweet and savory, crunchy and smooth texturally overwhelming and tastebud satisfying dish. The drinks are intriguing, the food unfussed and surprising, and the atmosphere consistently warm and inviting. This place has got serious chaatpati.