In February, I traveled to New York City for a few days and stayed at the Sheraton Times Square. The day I visited Ichiran for lunch was also the day I got to experience gourmet dining at Indian Accent, New York. The Michelin Guide references this as one of the thirteen best Indian restaurants in New York. Chef and owner Manish Mehrotra has added unique twists to well-known and authentic dishes to create a new menu ensemble.
It was one of the coldest days in NYC when my travel partners asked if I wanted to join them for dinner at the Indian Accent. One of their family members highly recommended it. It was also a short seven-minute walk from our hotel. My friends called for a reservation and got one for 10:15 pm! We had nothing else to do; it was too cold for us Texans to be out and about. The thought of hot, spicy Indian food was far too tempting to let a late-hour reservation kill the joy of eating.
After a brisk walk in the cold evening, we made it to the cozy interiors of the restaurant. Past the entrance, the waitress immediately greeted us. Our table was ready. We walked past the bar to the left of us and a row of diners at tables on the right to enter an inner room. Our table was in the middle and surrounded by smaller tables on all sides. The ambiance was muted but tastefully done. The low hum of conversation and clinking tableware caught our ears.
Our waiter informed us that since we had chosen to reserve a table, we had to order a four-course meal. Patrons at the bar could order a la carte. At $95 per person, the dinner wasn’t inexpensive by any means. Between the three of us, we could order 12 dishes, including appetizers, mid-course, mains, accompaniments, and desserts. We ordered different dishes to get a broad taste of the menu and shared each one.
For appetizers, we chose the sweet potato shakarkandi with crispy okra and starfruit, the potato sphere chaat with white pea mash, and the pulled jackfruit phulka. The mild sweetness and softness of the shakarkandi were complemented well by the crunchy okra. The chaat I enjoyed much with the green and tamarind chutneys. I didn’t care much for the pea mash, although one of my friends liked it. The pulled jackfruit was different in its texture. I haven’t eaten much raw jackfruit before, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We ordered the smoked eggplant bharta cornet with goat cheese mousse and the tofu masala with shishito peppers from the mid-courses. I am not a big fan of bhaingan bharta, but the dish’s presentation in the mini cones made the experience unique. I wolfed down the cornets. The tofu was well-cooked and added a touch of Asian flavor, and the shishito peppers were a great addition to the dish.
For the mains, we chose wild mushroom kebabs with morel pulao and winter truffles, kadai paneer with stuffed sweet peppers, hearts of palm, sweet potato, and sweet corn/garlic scapes vadai with quinoa and Kerala moilee. The first option was loaded with morel and winter truffles, some of the most highly prized edible mushrooms. While I only care a little for the texture of mushrooms, I actually enjoyed these kebabs. The pulao was perfectly cooked, with each grain of rice separate and not overdone. The stuffed peppers were good but didn’t stand out in my mind. The vadais were well done, soft on the inside and crisp on the outer, and paired well with the moilee. It was reminiscent of Kerala cuisine with its rich use of coconut-based gravies.
The wild mushroom kulcha with truffle butter, green pea, spicy potato kulcha, and black dairy daal with naan rounded out our accompaniments. The mushroom kulcha was good, but I still enjoyed the kebab version to the kulcha. The other breads were fine, but the daal was rich and spiced just right.
The grand finale came with the arrival of our dessert: makhan malai, saffron milk, rose petal, jaggery brittle, and almonds. It looked splendid, to begin with, the rose petals and brown jaggery contrasting with the yellow malai. Not too sweet but airy and light, the softness of the dessert was frequently broken by the crunchiness of the brittle or the almonds. It was the perfect way to end the evening!
Since we were in the last reservation slot of the evening, most of the other customers had left before we could finish. But the staff remained patient as we chatted through the dinner and delighted in our dessert. After the customary photos and rounds of good nights, we walked out into the freezing evening, our hearts and souls warmed by the excellent food and company. The 10:15 pm slot was definitely worth the wait!
In February 2022, we visited Junoon, one of the most well-known Indian restaurants in NYC. The ambiance was more sophisticated, the service, while slightly more formal, was excellent, and the price more expensive. Of course, the food tasted outstanding. Indian Accent, by comparison, was a bit more relaxed; the decor was muted and the service was still very good. But ultimately, the creativity was more apparent here, and I had a good time exploring different options.
I can’t wait to return to NYC and try a different menu at the Indian Accent with Mr. JJ next time!
Indian Accent has a sister location in New Delhi, India.