Junoon: High-Class Indian, Done Right
Junoon, located in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood just steps from Madison Square Park, is probably the swankiest Indian restaurant you’ll ever encounter. It’s a grand, ornate space, with a long, dimly-lit central hallway and entryway, a couple grand private party rooms, and a sprawling main dining room that provides ample seating and space for every guest and a view into a well-run open kitchen. As for the food, it’s high-class Indian that bridges old and new.
Junoon means “passion” in Hindi, and you can tell that a whole lot of passion went into the design and execution of this restaurant and its menu. The word of the day here is “opulent,” and as New York Magazine put it, “If you don’t believe that the parched postrecession restaurant landscape is slowly returning to the kind of lush boom-era opulence that New Yorkers are used to, then I suggest you book a table at… Junoon.” It’s truly a sight to behold, as there are very few restaurants in the city that are as massive, and lushly-appointed, as this one.
But on the the food. It’s pricey, but the menu is very interestingly laid-out. Because the full breadth of Indian cooking is so diverse, each menu item notes the specific cooking technique that was used: tandoor (clay oven), sigri (open fire pit), handi (curry), tawa (cast iron), or patthar (stoneware). The menu is laid out as you might see other Indian restaurants, with appetizers, fish and shellfish, meat and game, poultry, vegetarian, and breads, each getting their own sections. After that, though, it’s high-end and elegant. Appetizers include piri-piri shrimp in a Goan chili sauce, seafood dishes include a Kerala lobster curry, poultry includes duck in a Tellicherry pepper sauce, meat and game includes goat slow-cooked in a green chile sauce, vegetarian dishes include baby eggplant simmered with coconut, curry leaves, peanuts, and tamarind, and breads include naan stuffed with Malai chicken, red onion, green chile, and fresh cilantro.
There’s also a $75 five-course tasting menu that’s truly luxurious. It starts with a fluke crudo, and is followed by a saag paneer with homemade paneer gnudi, tandoori quail (pictured) with red currants, Swiss chard, and lentil dal, lamb curry, and a dessert of rose semifreddo and lime-cilantro granite. There’s also a $65 vegetarian option.
Another good time to dine here is during lunch, as they’ve recently launched a 2-course prix-fixe option and thali platters during the week for $19.95.
Just like any culture’s cuisine, there’s high-end and low end. Junoon is unabashedly high-end, and is one of the most opulent Indian meals you’ll ever have. You’ll feel like you’re dining in a palace, and will be eating like a maharaja as well.