For more than a decade, Surya, a West Village favorite in New York City, offered sophisticated Indian cuisine in a stylish setting. Now, the opening of Savoury on the Upper West Side—a new relaxed, fine dining Indian restaurant from the creators of Surya—will thrill its fans, as well as those yet to discover chef/owner Lala Sharma’s cooking.
Sharma began his career in his hometown of New Delhi at Bukhara, considered one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. There, he trained with the top chefs in India and learned the fine art of tandoor cooking. He moved to New York in 1994, where he cooked at Mughlai.
In 2001, he ventured out on his own, opening Surya. In 2011, it became a full-fledged family business as he was joined by his son, Abishek Sharma, and opened Swagat. Abishek not only acts as operations manager, but was also instrumental in creating the concept for their newest project.
Savoury continues the evolution of Sharma’s vision—modern Indian cuisine that is lighter and healthier and fresh flavors that pop, influenced by Western and Southern Indian cooking. Abishek’s youthful influence is felt in the more expansive space—a lounge furnished with low couches, cozy booths in the front, a cocktail bar, and a dining room big enough for large parties.
With Abishek managing the front of the house, the ambiance is still as intimate, warm, and inviting as Surya and Swagat.
The staff will guide guests through the menu, beginning with appetizers such as warm sprouted lentils tossed with light crunchy rice puffs, flavored with mustard seed and fried curry leaves, and the irresistible lasuni gobi, crispy cauliflower tossed in a tangy garlic tomato sauce.
Then there are the house specialties such as Savoury scallops, lightly sautéed and served in a tamarind-coconut sauce. Tender baby lamb chops, a favorite from Surya, are marinated with yogurt and a blend of spices, and served with the chef’s special sauce, a proprietary combination of five flavors—ginger, garlic, mustard, curry leaves, and tamarind.
Main courses cover the gamut from vegetarian to chicken, lamb, goat, and seafood, with a special section dedicated to tandoor specials. With the exception of curries (which are served family style), entrees are elegantly presented as composed plates including side dishes such as rice and vegetables.
Sharma is a master with vegetables—in particular the spiced okra, bright and fresh with tomato, onion, garlic, and kokum, an Indian fruit that adds a sweet-sour twist. Cheese and spinach kofta is a vegetarian croquette served in a mildly spiced cream sauce. Chicken tikka makhani, otherwise known as butter chicken, is a superb blend of tandoor baked boneless chicken in a rich, delicately spiced tomato cream sauce.
Smoky lamb or goat kadai arrives in a thick sauce of onion, green peppers, tomato, and garlic. Shrimp or konju pappas is prepared in spicy coconut sauce flavored with curry leaves and tamarind, while dalcha machchi is an intriguing combination with cubes of salmon cooked with sprouted lentils, turmeric, bay leaf, mustard seed, and curry leaves.
Other special dishes include biryani, spiced, flavor-laden basmati rice cooked with vegetables, chicken, lamb, goat, or shrimp; and an entrée from the tandoor, tulsi kebab, a superbly moist chicken breast swathed in a marinade of yogurt, fresh basil, ginger, garlic, onions, and Indian spices.
There are also freshly baked breads, in particular, garlic naan, stuffed with fresh garlic; and Punjabi kulcha, stuffed with melted cheese, sun-dried tomato, fresh herbs, and spices, that come to the table crisp and piping hot.
Desserts include the classic rasmalai, sweet cheese dumplings in milk lightly flavored with rosewater. There’s also house-made kulfi, traditional Indian ice cream in mango or pistachio flavors; with a light and pleasing mouth-feel, it's a conclusion to your meal, along with a cup of milk-steeped masala chai.
One important addition to the lineup at Savoury is the cocktail program designed by staff member Fahim Abbasi, who learned to make colorful, food-friendly cocktails when he worked at a restaurant in Mumbai.
The Tajmapolitan combines Absolut Kurant, Chambord, fresh lime, and cranberry juices and is topped with freshly grated cinnamon. The lime-green Tandoori Sour is a blend of Strawberry Stoli, Midori, and sour mix, while the Mango Masala, with mango rum, mango puree, and sour mix, reminds one of a mango lassi—with a kick.
There’s also an extensive selection of beers including the Indian beers Kingfisher, Taj Mahal, and the newly released 1947 lager. The wine list includes 10 reds and 10 whites by the bottle and glass.
Weekend brunch will involve a choice of curry (chicken, seafood, meat, or vegetable) plus an appetizer and salad. Daily lunch specials include a choice of curry, bread, and rice, with all items prepared to order.