There is no lack of Indian cuisine in New York City, from Curry Hill on E. 27th Street to Little India on E. 6th Street, the ritzier restaurants on E. 58th Street, and pockets of restaurants in Greenwich Village. Now, one restaurant in the Upper West Side stands out amount the rest, and Upper West Siders can get a taste of India without taking the dreaded crosstown bus.
From the restaurateurs behind West Village’s Surya comes Savoury. Nestled in the heart of the UWS, chef and owner Lala Sharma brings the comfort of Indian food in a stylish setting. Sharma began his career in his hometown of New Delhi at Bukhara, one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, where he trained with the top chefs in India. He moved to New York in 1994, where he cooked at Mughlai, and then opened Surya in 2001, followed by Swagat.
During our dining experience, we met with Sharma’s son, Abishek Sharma, who was instrumental in creating the concept for Savoury and is the restaurant’s operations manager. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the food, while modern and light, still holds the colorful and bold flavors of traditional Western and Southern Indian cooking.
Their menu is expansive, yet organized, and covers everything from vegetarian dishes to different sections highlighting chicken, lamb, goat, and seafood, along with a dedicated section for tandoor specials. As to stop from ordering everything on the menu, we definitely needed guidance from Abishek.
We first started off with garlic naan and – my personal favorite drink – mango lassi. While naan can be found in nearly every Indian restaurant, Savoury’s was light and fluffy with the edges slightly crisp, so you get the best of both worlds. Another praised starter dish is the Punjabi Kulcha stuffed with melted cheese, sun-dried tomato, fresh herbs and spices, served piping hot.
For vegetarians, the spiced okra is served with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and kokum – an Indian fruit that adds a sweet-sour twist. The cheese and spinach kofta is a veggie croquette topped with a mildly spiced cream sauce.
While I enjoyed the Aloo Tiki Chaat – spiced potatoes with chick peas, tamarind, yogurt, and mint chutney – my favorite dish of the entire night was the Lasuni Gobi, cauliflower with a tangy garlic tomato sauce. The thick and slightly tart sauce coating the dense cauliflower was a hearty dish in itself.
For the main dish, we came to a decision on the Chicken Chettinad under the advisement of Abishek. Cooked with curry leaves, tamarind, and a hint of coconut milk, the superb flavors blended well together. For lamb, my go-to dish is typically lamb vindaloo, but I wished to branch out. The Lamb Kadai, which you can also get with goat, is one of their top recommended dishes. The lamb or goat is cooked with a smokey flavor, tossed in with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. Quite a hearty dish. And because I mentioned I liked vindaloo, they offered to make the kadai with just a touch of spiciness.
Seafood lovers should try the Savoury scallops which are lightly sautéed and served in a tamarind-coconut sauce, and the shrimp or konju pappas are prepared in spicy coconut sauce flavored with curry leaves and tamarind, while the dalcha machchi cubed salmon is served with sprouted lentils, turmeric, bay leaf, mustard seed and curry leaves.
For other house specialties, the popular and tender baby lamb chops marinated with yogurt and a blend of spices is served with the chef’s special sauce. The chicken tikka makhani, otherwise known as butter chicken, is a superb blend of tandoor baked boneless chicken in a rich tomato cream sauce.
If you’re not too full, wrap up your meal with some dessert, including the classic rasmalai, sweet cheese dumplings in milk, lightly flavored with rosewater. In need of something cool and refreshing, we tried the house-made mango kulfi, a traditional Indian ice cream. To really get settled in for the night, they also offer a wine and beer list, created to complement the spice and heat of the food.
While the highlight is most certainly dinner, we’re also looking forward to try their weekend brunch – a choice of curry (chicken, seafood, meat or vegetable), plus an appetizer and salad. We’ll be back for the cauliflower!
Lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner.
Mon through Thurs: Lunch 12:00 – 3:00 PM, dinner from 5:00 – 10:30 PM
Fri and Sat: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM.
Sunday: 12:00 – 10:30 PM.
Photos via Savoury and by Socially Superlative