Food For Thought — December 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Utsav: Modern Indian Fare in the Heart of Midtown

by

utsav

While it seems like a new restaurant opens up in this city every other day, it is no small feat to keep a restaurant open in New York City. Maintaining a steady clientele and managing the constant adjustment of sky rocketing rents, as well as catering to the ever evolving demands of New York City food and dining, even the most talented and well-known chefs fail. It is an underlying commitment to success, and a deep rooted passion for food and service that keeps restaurants afloat in this ever fickle marketplace.

SAAG PANEER

Utsav, the Sanskrit word for festival, is a modern Indian restaurant with strong ties to its Indian roots, as well as the community. Owner Nandita Khanna has lived in New York City for fifteen years. She has been the owner and general manager of Utsav for 14 years. Managing to ebb and flow with food trends, as well as navigating the murky waters of Time Square real estate ordinances, Nandita has succeeded where many have failed, going above and beyond this year with a complete renovation of the beautiful second story space that peeks out over an alley way smack in the middle of the Theater District. In addition, celebrated chef Hari Nayak has revitalized the menu, giving the entire restaurant a fresh, modern feel. James Beard award winner Rajat Parr has curated an approachable, unpretentious wine list with something for everyone at a phenomenal price point, especially considering the location, and a refreshed cocktail menu.

chicken in cashew curry

Increasing the approachability of this restaurant, especially for people who may not be familiar with Indian cuisine, Utsav offers a 7-day a week lunch buffet for $20.95 with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The dinner menu allows Chef Nayak to play and experiment, offering traditional Indian classics as well as reinvented dishes with Western influences. Khanna also officially changed the address from 1185 Avenue of the Americas, a monolith of an office building, to 113 W 46th Street, making the bridge-like alleyway between 46th and 47th streets easier to find.

rice and lamb

Among the food that we sampled, the classic Lamb Rogenjosh was by far my favorite. Tender, fall off the bone meat coated in a rich, spicy tomato sauce, it was everything you would want from this delicious staple menu item. The Saag Paneer, another standard vegetarian favorite, was rich and savory, complimented by the usual generous portions of cheese. The one dish that pushed the envelope was a chicken braised in a cashew curry, borrowing flavors predominant in East Asian cooking. None of these, however, truly compared to the delectable rice pudding with coconut sorbet. Creamy without being soggy, sweet without being saccharin, as someone who never orders dessert I scraped the bottom of this one, served in a large martini glass that I wished would magically refill itself.

coco

If you happen to be in Midtown and you feel as passionate about Indian food as we do, swing by Utsav and enjoy its fantastic lunch special, newly refined dinner menu, or simply to enjoy a glass of wine in the sexy ambiance of Utsav’s new décor.

Twisted Talk: What’s your go to Indian spot in the city? Have you dined at Utsav? Discuss below!

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