For more than a decade, chef/owner Lala Sharma’s Surya was a beloved restaurant in the West Village, offering sophisticated Indian cuisine. When it closed several years ago, it left a noticeable gap in the neighborhood. In the intervening years, Sharma and his family owned and operated restaurants developed a devoted following at Swagatand Savoury on the Upper West Side.
But now, Surya is back on Bleecker Street in a beautiful new space—with a new concept for a new generation. Sharma and his sons—Abishek Sharma and Abim Sharma—along with their lifelong friend, co-owner Sandeep Singh, offer a taste of the rich, deep flavors of India but with a light and healthy touch.
The décor of the new restaurant is casual and inviting—with warm hues of espresso wood, gold walls covered with vintage photographs, and a granite bar surrounded by military-style bar stools, lit with Edison bulbs.
Though the menu looks to the past for inspiration—including bringing back favorite signature dishes from the original Surya—Chef Lala and his team look to the future for their cooking methods, techniques, and ingredients. The food is delicately seasoned and beautifully spiced with exciting flavor profiles, while still being homey and comforting.
An ideal meal at Surya begins with a crispy, savory treat: Colonial Street Chaats, inspired by popular street food, elevated with lighter, healthier ingredients. For example, Spinach Palak Moong Chaat, designed to be eaten out of hand, are crisp crackers made from batter-dipped flash-fried spinach, layered with sprouted lentils, lemon, onion, and tomatoes—a single bite includes crunch, tang, freshness, leaving an exciting tingle on the palate. Bombay Bhel Puri, popular on the beaches in what is now Mumbai is refreshing and light, composed of rice crisps, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and tamarind. Other starters include Onion Bhaija—onion fritter with a chickpea flour batter or Savoury Scallops—pan-sauteed with sweet-tangy tamarind-coconut sauce.
Continue with signature dishes (served as composed plates with sides of vegetables and rice) such as Dalcha Machchi, salmon tikka (cooked in the tandoor) with sprouted lentils, in a light sauce flavored with turmeric, bay leaf, mustard seed, and curry leaves and tantalizing Calicut Pepper Chicken with green chilies, ginger and curry leaves, and warm and wonderful Masaledar Chaaps, a generous portion of tender lamb chops marinated in red wine, yogurt, ginger, and spices. British-influenced mains include Malabar Pappas, shrimp in spicy coconut sauce with curry leaf, and tamarind and Railway Chicken Curry, a homey, comforting, simple chicken, made with garam masala spices, tomato and onion, while Maharaja Shahi Korma, is a royal dish, made for princes, with a creamy, almond-based, saffron sauce.
Daal Surya is a unique, bright and zesty take on black lentils, here punctuated with red kidney beans, cumin and ginger. There are also plenty of vegan options—Roasted Bhartha (eggplant, onion, tomatoes and spices); Aloo Gobi Mutter (cauliflower, potatoes, green peas and cumin seed); and Chana Masala (chickpeas, onion, tomato).
Freshly baked breads, in particular, Garlic Naan, topped with fresh garlic and lightly brushed with oil and Onion and Black Pepper Kulcha, and Pudina paratha, mint-dusted whole wheat, come to the table crisp, and piping hot. Rice dishes include Lemon Rice, prepared fresh lemon juice, mustard seed and curry leaves, and Biryaniwith saffron (with a choice of vegetable, chicken, lamb, goat, shrimp or fish.)
Desserts created by pastry chef Mohan Lal, include the classic rasmalai, sweet cheese dumplings in milk lightly flavored with rosewater, fig ice cream and house-made Kulfi on a stick, traditional Indian ice cream in mango or pistachio flavors, with a light and pleasing mouth-feel.
There’s also a rotating selection of six beers on tap including Indian favorites such as Kingfisher and Taj, and local, seasonal beers. The wine list includes 10 reds and 10 whites by the bottle and glass.