Savoury, A New Modern Indian Restaurant from the Owners of Surya

For more than a decade, Surya, a West Village favorite, offered sophisticated Indian cuisine in a stylish setting. When it closed, it left a noticeable void. Now, the opening of Savoury on the Upper West Side—a new Indian restaurant from the creators of Surya—will thrill its many fans, as well as those yet to discover chef/owner Lala Sharma’s cooking.

Sharma began his career in his hometown of New Delhi at Bukhara, considered one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. There he trained with the top chefs in India and learned the fine art of tandoor cooking. He moved to New York in 1994, where he cooked at Mughlai. In 2001, he ventured out on his own, opening Surya. In 2011, it became a full-fledged family business as he was joined by his son, Abishek Sharma and opened Swagat. Abishek not only acts as operations manager but was also instrumental in creating the concept for their newest project.

Savoury continues the evolution of Sharma’s vision—with modern Indian cuisine that is lighter and healthier and fresh flavors that pop, influenced by Western and Southern Indian cooking. Abishek’s youthful influence is felt in the more expansive space—a lounge furnished with low couches, cozy booths in the front, a cocktail bar, and a dining room big enough for large parties. With Abishek managing the front of the house, the ambiance is still as intimate, warm and inviting as Surya and Swagat.

The staff will guide guests through the menu, beginning with appetizers such as warm sprouted lentils tossed with light crunchy rice puffs, flavored with mustard seed and fried curry leaves, and the irresistible lasuni gobi, crispy cauliflower tossed in a tangy garlic tomato sauce. Then there are the house specialties such as Savoury scallops, lightly sautéed and served in a tamarind-coconut sauce. Tender baby lamb chops, a favorite from Surya, are marinated with yogurt and a blend of spices, and served with the chef’s special sauce, a proprietary combination of five flavors—ginger, garlic, mustard, curry leaves, and tamarind.

Main courses cover the gamut from vegetarian to chicken, lamb, goat and seafood, with a special section dedicated to tandoor specials. With the exception of curries (which are served family style), entrees are elegantly presented as composed plates including side dishes such as rice and vegetables.

Sharma is a master with vegetables—in particular the spiced okra, bright and fresh with tomato, onion, garlic, and kokum, an Indian fruit that adds a sweet-sour twist. Cheese and spinach kofta is a vegetarian croquette served in a mildly spiced cream sauce. Chicken tikka makhani, otherwise known as butter chicken, is a superb blend of tandoor baked boneless chicken in a rich, delicately spiced tomato cream sauce. Smoky lamb or goat kadai arrives in a thick sauce of onion, green peppers, tomato and garlic. Shrimp or konju pappas is prepared in spicy coconut sauce flavored with curry leaves and tamarind, while dalcha machchi is an intriguing combination, cubes of salmon cooked with sprouted lentils, turmeric, bay leaf, mustard seed and curry leaves.

Other special dishes include biryani, spiced, flavor-laden basmati rice cooked with vegetables, chicken, lamb, goat or shrimp, and an entrée from the tandoor, tulsi kebab, a superbly moist chicken breast swathed in a marinade of yogurt, fresh basil, ginger, garlic, onions and Indian spices.

Not to be missed are the freshly baked breads, in particular, garlic naan, stuffed with fresh garlic and Punjabi kulcha, stuffed with melted cheese, sun-dried tomato, fresh herbs and spices, that come to the table crisp and piping hot.

Desserts include the classic rasmalai, sweet cheese dumplings in milk lightly flavored with rosewater. There’s also house-made kulfi, traditional Indian ice cream in mango or pistachio flavors, with a light and pleasing mouth-feel, the perfect conclusion to your meal, along with a cup of milk-steeped masala chai.

The restaurant serves a wine & beer list created by Abishek Sharma, featuring an extensive selection of beers, including the Indian beers Kingfisher, Taj Mahal and 1947, along with moderately priced wine selections that were thoughtfully chosen to pair well with Indian flavors and complement the spice and heat. The list gives emphasis to Riesling, like the Valckenberg "Der Stift" Riesling 2012, while other examples include the Barrique Pinot Noir 2012.

Look for weekend brunch—a choice of curry (chicken, seafood, meat or vegetable) plus an appetizer and salad and daily lunch specials that include a choice of curry, bread and rice, with all items prepared to order.

Savoury is located at 489 Columbus Ave, between 83rd and 84th,, 212-875-1400, and is open Mon-Thurs for lunch from 12-3 and dinner from 5-10:30pm, and Fri-Sat from 11am-11:00pm, Sun from 12-10:30 pm, including weekend brunch.


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