If the spice of life is your idea for the kinds of food you like to consume, then Benares needs to be a place that is on your to do list this summer. Benares, which is located in the heart of TriBeCa right off the 2/3 line, provides expertly made Indian dishes that pays homage to the 28 states of its home country in the best of ways. They were nice enough to set myself and a friend up with a wonderful experience last week, and we are still raving about it almost a week later!
Led by founder Inder Singh (Devi, Baluchi’s), the cuisine exemplifies the abundant culinary diversity of India’s many regions, paying homage to all 28 states of India. Chef Negi gained experience at award-winning Indian restaurants across the globe (Taj of India, Ashok Hotel) and has created new menu selections inspired by his family in northern India.
The location itself has some fabulous news as of late, as they just appointed a brand new chef named Qutab Singh Negi, who has brought his own culinary flair to the table by introducing some wonderful new items to its already plush and diverse Indian menu. Existing signature dishes by original Michelin-starred Executive Chef Peter Beck, will remain on the menu. We were able to try both chef’s options and were delighted with each bite we got ourselves into.
Benares itself is similar to a lot of other restaurants here in Manhattan- dimly lit and spacious which provides a great vibe in an intimate setting. Once we were seated, they provided us with a fantastic variety of their best appetizers and entrees, and finished us off with some wonderful desserts that once again highlighted the expertise of both chefs and their knowledge of Indian cuisine at its best.
Here is what I recommend diving into when you head to Benares ASAP. I am a sucker for shrimp- no matter how it is prepared. Their version, called Konkani Shrimp, tosses it into a spicy tomato sauce with cumin, cinnamon and black pepper which gives the flavor a huge amount of depth to it, but doesn’t overwhelm you as the cinnamon cools it down a bit.
Two other appetizers that really sang to me in terms of depth of flavor and overall taste was their Makkai Ka Soweta and their Chicken Tikka Smokey. The former is a lamb shoulder marinated in yogurt with tumeric, chili, ginger and garlic and stewed in corn. Yogurt is probably my favorite part of Indian cuisine, as it always has such a great texture to it and can provide a much needed cool down for the intense spices each dish provides. This one definitely aids in that, but the overall execution is simply delicious. Same for the latter dish, which is boneless chicken with said yogurt and Indian spices with a mint sauce. Tasty indeed.
Onto their entree menu, you will find that although they excel in chicken and seafood, they also do incredibly well with goat meat. I have had goat in the past, and although it isn’t the first thing I would necessarily order, what they provided us was nothing short of extraordinary and I now consider myself to be a goat-converter. Case in point? Their Kandhai Goat, which comes with tomatoes, onion, ginger and garlic. The supporting cast for the goat makes the dish taste absolutely phenomenal, as I loved the combination of the four with each bite I took.
Chocolate is a great way to end any meal, and their Atom Bomb with rose petal ice cream does the trick. This dish essentially is Chocolate Lava Cake which pairs perfectly well with the ice cream and makes for a smooth way to end the meal. Overall, Benares hooked us up with all that they did and if you want to try the best of Indian cuisine, then this is the place to go.
For more information on Benares, please check out their official site.