NYC restaurants are notorious for opening and closing, a whirlwind of vegan meatballs or cucumber foam and then poof—gone as soon as they came. So as ‘serious’ New York foodies we’re wary of the unknown, and it takes more than a rainbow bagel or sushi burrito to get us to fall in love.
But tucked away in Midtown Manhattan is a brand new restaurant that will quite literally knock your socks off and will be a landmark of New York by next year.
When I think of Indian food, spice upon spice and visions of floor-side dining along with foreign flavors all dance around my senses. But the word ‘fine dining’ never once enters my brain. It’s just not typical. Indian cuisine, at least the Americanized version as we know it, is exotic yet comfortable, with family style plates of Chicken Tikka and Vegetable Korma.
Indian Accent takes those preconceptions and turns them entirely on their head. They are, for lack of a better phrase, reinventing the wheel here. The original Indian Accent restaurant opened in 2009 with an inventive menu at The Manor, New Delhi. The restaurant serves a unique interpretation of Indian food, featuring historic revivals, playful nostalgia, with an openness to global techniques and influence.
Founded by restaurateur Rohit Khattar and helmed by celebrated Chef Manish Mehrotra, they both had the vision to bring this New Delhi success to international heights. “We have been evaluating multiple opportunities to open another Indian Accent, but none have been as exciting and promising as New York City. We have just opened and hope that New York too shall embrace our inventive Indian cuisine”, Rohit Khattar told us. Well, they’ve certainly found a place in our hearts…and stomachs.
The atmosphere is warm yet sleek, modern and referential. Reimagined materials familiar in Indian architecture, such as brass, marble and plaster, create a contemporary and clean backdrop for the food. The contemporary Indian menu showcases Mehrotra’s ability to merge adventurous techniques with traditional flavor profiles. Seasonal, local produce and locally-sourced proteins are complimented by authentic Indian spices and diverse ingredients from across the world – all of which get treated with modern techniques in the hands of Mehrotra’s skilled kitchen team. The menu can be enjoyed as a selection of two, three, or four courses, or a set chef tasting menu of 7 courses.
Pick and choose from any section—this isn’t your typical soup salad entrée chocolate mousse bed by 9pm sort of date. Go here for an adventure for your palate, and for an eye opening gastronomic evening. If you are as unfamiliar with Indian cuisine as I am (as in, I know I love curry and that’s my safe space), lean on your waiter for help. Christophe was perhaps the most knowledgeable waiter I’ve ever met, guiding and steering us when necessary, letting us chose our own fate when it seemed right. This menu is a reinterpreting of nostalgic Indian dishes—you’ll find familiar street foods turned haute cuisine, retaining the flavor and essence of the dish while being seriously elevated.
Expect to spend a full evening here, this is not the sort of meal you want to rush. Start with one of their fantastic and crazy unique cocktails—the Proper Copper (Kaffir Infused Vodka, Ginger, Orange Blossom Water) is perhaps the best version of a Moscow Mule I’ve ever tasted. It’s not just unique to be unique—everything here is purposeful, each component has been paired meticulously for the best flavor profile possible. It’s not a gimmick and it’s not coincidental.
All of Indian Accent’s dishes are carefully composed plates, but designed for easy, family-style sharing. The menu offers small plates such as Sweet Pickle Ribs with sundried mango and onion seeds, Potato Sphere Chaat with white pea mash, and butter pepper garlic paneer. More substantial second and third courses include Baby Squid with crispy rice and everything chutney, Pepper Roast Dosa with wild mushrooms, black truffles and water chestnuts, and Pork Belly Vindaloo with Goan red rice. For a sweet finish, the fourth course offers a range of desserts from Mehrotra including Makhan Malai with saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle and almonds—it tastes as beautiful as it looks. Order more to share, because the Doda Barfi treacle tart with vanilla bean ice cream is the absolutely perfect way to end the meal.
The extraordinary playful share supplements include a Tasting of Papads with wild boar pickle, prawn balchao, and house chutneys. It’s a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Presentation here is key—nowhere else can you so truly feasted first with your eyes and then the mouth. The mystery is truly compelling, and keeps you going back for more.