I am always a sucker for hearty Indian food, but it’s not often that you see a lot of modern Indian restaurants trying to showcase the range of flavor of this huge country across different regions and influences. Beyond all the chicken tikka masala curry dishes, India displays so much versatility in its food and yet that attribute has not been really translated to a fine dining-type restaurants. Sure, I liked my experiences at places like Tamarind or Junoon, but it’s hard to name one go-to game changer if someone asks me where they experience modern Indian dining. The team behind the acclaimed New Delhi restaurant Indian Accent decided to change that by opening a New York outpost in Le Parker Meridien Hotel (that place with perennial tourist brunch trap Norma’s and perennial tourist burger trap (although a very good one) The Burger Joint) earlier this year. My recent experience at Indian Accent showed a lot of promise and I had a very pleasant dinner.
The price tag at Indian Accent doesn’t come cheap (starting at $75 per person for three courses, $90 for four and $110 for chef’s tasting) and there are also additional dishes that you can only get as supplements (i.e. extra bucks). I obviously wished the hefty price tag of $38 came down, but otherwise had no complaint about the supplement of ghee roast lamb that you can wrap in roti pancakes with four different types of sauce. It was quite a marvelous dish that displayed very nice balance of flavor with spicy kick that you can adjust depending on the type of sauce you use. I just couldn’t stop eating shell after shell of this delicious starter. Sweet potato shakarkandi with kohlrabi and crispy okra also had different vegetables working together for an elegant dish.
While the spice of Indian cuisine tends to be on the stronger (and hence very addictive once you get hooked into it), the kitchen at Indian Accent has done very well to moderate that potent flavor often to great effect. Soy keema with quail egg on top was a delightful treat, as were the juicy, tender sweet pickle ribs with sundried mango and onion seeds that my dining companion and I quickly disposed of. The soft-shell crab at Indian Accent is definitely one of the better self-shell crab dishes in the city in terms of texture (the crunchy sensation was quite memorable), and I could totally eat pork belly vindaloo with goan red rice almost every day for a take-out if it is available, again displaying rich but not heavy flavor that was different from what I typically understand as the strength of Indian spice. For dessert, don’t skip muskan malai dish with saffron milk; this airy dish at first tasted somewhat funky but over time my dining companion and I couldn’t stop digging this delightful fluff that displayed the aromatic sensation of saffron to great effect and yet wasn’t overly sweet to my liking.
Getting a reservation at Indian Accent is manageable, but it’s always preferable to book in advance given that the restaurant is located inside a hotel so there will always be hotel guests. There is a full bar with some Indian-inspired cocktails (as well as list of classics) on the menu. I liked the modern vibe of the dining space that was bright and trendy but not stuffy at all. I’m really glad that New Delhi team decided to invade the Big Apple with this winner that could really become a champion of modern Indian cuisine in the city. A repeat visit will definitely happen sometime in the future.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 123 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 842-8070