Junoon likes to bill itself as a restaurant with “French service, in the family, Indian style.” At least that’s how one waiter described it when a local critic recently visited the new outlet in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. The city doesn’t lack for Indian eateries, but Junoon aims for the upscale.
The owners obviously pay attention to detail and it shows in the decor. It’s not your typical buffet-style Indian restaurant.
The teak furniture and the long, sumptuous bar are extensions of the expansive dining room Upholstered chairs and banquettes, large sandstone sculptures and a reflecting pool filled with lotus blossoms and candles set the mood. The exterior also exudes up-scale finery. It’s façade is made of hand-chiseled limestone.
Downstairs you can find the Spice Room, and it’s exactly that. It’s filled with dried ginger, fenugreek leaves, strings of red saffron and other herbs and spices. And upstairs is another plush room for private dining. Check out the antique wooden arches, reportedly carved centuries ago for a raja’s palace.
“Imagine a kind of dream-state Del Posto, the sort of restaurant where of course you would order a ValpolicellaGrassi with your monkfish tikka. And you should! The food is overall very good,” says New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton.
“Sometimes the quality of the cooking justifies the elaborate pomp and ceremony at this slightly overpompous restaurant, and sometimes it does not. But the numerous house-baked breads are excellent, and so is the raita, which the kitchen folds with pomegranate seeds and shreds of fresh mint,” says New York magazine critic Adam Platt.
Both critics give the restaurant two stars, which sounds a little ungenerous, but they both also list it among their critic’s picks.
Curry and Tandoori are standard, of course, but the chefs recruited from other upscale Indian restaurants, add their own special touches. Among the dishes getting mentions from critics are grilled monkfish with serrano chiles and softened in yogurt and lamb chops in a ginger and green cardamom coating;
27 W. 24th St., New York, NY 10010
Lunch: Monday to Friday, noon to 3 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, to 11 p.m.