BITE OF THE MOMENT: Benares TriBeCa

[All photos by Conor Rose]

If you asked me two weeks ago where you should eat in Tribeca, I would have had zero suggestions for you – but just recently I’ve finally found an answer. Indian food is not something that typically comes to mind for me in this part of the city (I’d be more inclined to suggest Curry Hill or Flushing for that) but tucked away from all that hustle and bustle is Benares, an unassuming gem filled with literally every Indian dish you can imagine. Focusing on dishes from the Indian state of Utter Pradesh, Benares hosts a menu that is incredibly extensive, with a wide variety of items to please any eater, whether they be carnivore, herbivore, or any-other-vore.

Cocktails here are creative, with a nod to the Desi Gone Wild, a playfully named concoction of tequila, triple sec, apricot brandy, and pomegranate liqueur, topped with pomegranate juice and served over ice – after just one sip you can see why the desis would go wild. Their High Society Old Fashioned (bourbon, muddled sugar, cherry, and orange, served over ice) was made just the way we like it – strong, lightly sweetened, with just enough citrus to cut the bite of the booze.

Sample bites of appetizers came to us in waves that we welcomed with open mouths. There was chicken tikka, interpreted two ways – Achchari Chicken Tikka (the kind you’re probably familiar with) and Chicken Tikka Smokey, marinated with yogurt and spices, with a hint of clove.

We also tried some new-to-us bites, such as the Kola Erachi (chicken marinated with ginger and garlic in a star anise peppery sauce) and Makkai Ka Soweta (lamb shoulder marinated in yogurt, turmeric, chili, ginger, garlic, and stewed with corn). Vegetarian treats included the aloo papri chaat, which had a breakfasty vibe (wheat crisps, chick peas, potatoes topped with yogurt, roasted cumin, mint and tamarind sauces) as well as the bhel puri (puffed rice crisps with chopped onions, potatoes, avocado and corn kernels, tossed with chutneys).

Our favorites? Samples of tandoori shrimp and the lamb chops, both separate dishes that were cooked even and tender, leaving us longing for them as main courses.

Samples of entrees all came out at once and included Rogan Josh, Sag Paneer, plus a chickpea and eggplant dish, all generous amounts of rich, saucy glory and served with a hefty plate of rice. For dessert, the Kheer Anarkali, a delicately sweetened rice pudding cooked on slow fire with milk, garnished with pomegranate seeds.

Service was friendly and informative, with the serves eager to explain and suggest dishes and adjust anything if you have a preference or allergy. If the GM Ranbir is there, tell him we sent you and we know you’ll be in good hands.

For more photos, click here. This meal was provided by Benares, and all opinions are our own.