21
Apr
11

Junoon (Madison Square Park)

I’m Indian and I was raised by a mother who refuses to use anything canned or frozen when cooking, so I’m super particular about my Indian restaurants. So particular in fact, that I altogether just avoid them.  After reading the NYT announcement of Junoon’s opening, this past winter Miss BaDa Bling and I decided it was a must try.

As you walk in, you immediately get transported back to the 80’s when opulent decor was rampant at Indian retaurants, albeit Junoon’s elegance is definitely definitely cranked up a few notches.  As you enter, the high, long, tastefully decorated, cavernous entry, it really let’s you know that this place is going to be a little bit different than the Indian restaurants available these days.  The decor was what I would describe as opulent contemporary. 

As I was waiting for BDB, I waited at the very empty bar and ordered a Fall Daiquiri which consisted of white rum, lime, muddled spices and vanilla-orange syrup.  I ordered it thinking it was going to knock my mojari off but alas, it did not.  The concept and the flavors weren’t bad, but I felt I was going to turn the candle next to me into a blowtorch everytime I exhaled.  But hey, the bartender got me to chat him up for sure. 

Once she arrived, we were taken to the left-side dining room.  The minute we walked in I realized that this was going to definitely be a very corporate card set.  The sparse crowd was all suits talking shop except for BDB and I. 

 Our meal started off with an amuse bouche comprised of a little potato patty over a well seasoned tamarind chutney with a dot of cumin yogurt on top–all very traditional flavors merged into one bite.  We moved on to the piri piri prawns which were good, not great.  When we ordered this, we were anticipating some heat from the Goan spices but overall were disappointed because the spice factor was weak didn’t pack much of a punch at all. 

 

For our entrees we ordered the Lamb Shoulder and the Goan Shrimp.  The lamb was prepared in papaya juice with the traditional blend of spices called garam masala.  Garam masala is used in many different regions in India and the individual spice components used can vary.  The most common ingrediants though are black/white peppercorn, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin which are toasted together and blend into a fine powder.  The lamb was seasoned very well and cooked to a perfect medium temperature.  This was my favorite dish of the night. 

The Goan shrimp was good also.  Anything prepared with tamarind sauce already has a head start in my book, but keep in mind that this dish is prepared with coconut milk so it was definitely a richer dish.  But after being close to polishing of our bottle of red, we couldn’t stop dipping the onion kulcha in the gravy.  At this point I have to comment on the service.  There wasn’t anything we requested, that they didn’t provide to try to accomodate.  If you go to the menu and want to order the onion kulcha, it won’t be there.  But it’s one of my weaknesses and I must have!  We asked for it and off the waiter went to discuss it with the chef to see if he could make it.  And he did. 

To wrap up, we went with a singular dessert option because we were stuffed but had to try something!  The spiced chocolate cake with chai ice cream was pretty good.  It was rich, but the chai ice cream was a perfect pairing of flavors.  What turned up the notch on this dessert for me was the texture of the overal dessert.  Instead of having a smooth bite right through both the cake and the ice cream, the chef through in some chocolate flakey crunches to give each bite a little something more.  Have I had better?  Sure.  But this was definitely not a shabby dessert.

Overall the meal at Junoon was a success, however, at this $200 dinner-for-two price point I was left thinking that there are definitely better values out there for quality food.  Will I be back?  Perhaps…on someone’s corporate tab.

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