It’s not often that I get to indulge in a two or three course lunch during the week, but I was invited in to Junoon recently to try out their new prix-fixe lunch menu, so indulge I did. Indian happens to be one of those cuisines I really love but don’t eat a lot of, mainly because I find the quality to be questionable at most places. The second I walked into Junoon though, I had a feeling the meal was going to be one for the books; the space is big, the decor was beautiful and sleek, and it smelled like delicious spices.
The prix fixe menu has two options: one is a 2-course prix-fixe for $19.95 (includes appetizer, main course, and non-alcoholic beverage), and the other is a Thali Platter for $19.95 (traditional Indian sampling of vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes served with rice, raita, and roti bread). Being that we like to share things, I chose the 2-course option, while Alexis chose the non-vegetarian Thali platter.
For my appetizer, I chose the Lahsooni Gobi, which are crispy cauliflower florets with chili flakes and garlic tomato chutney. I would describe this as such: vegetarian General Tsao’s chicken with no meat, and more heat. The crispy texture on the outside reminded me of that, while the deep flavor and the heat of the sauce was definitely all Indian. Delicious. And stings the nostrils.
We also ordered (separately, not included with the prix-fixe) the eggplant chaat: crispy sliced eggplant with tamarind, yogurt, and red onion. YUM. This is one of my favorite Indian appetizers, and some places do it really well. I’m happy to report that Junoon is one of those places – the thin and crispy sliced eggplant is mixed with amazing textures from the cool yogurt, the slightly sweet tamarind, and crunchy red onions. LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish. Get it.
As my entree, I ordered the Masaledar lamb chops: tandoori marinated lamb chops, with curry confit potatoes, and pomegranate brown butter sauce. Mmmm lamb. I don’t normally do lamb in Indian restaurants, but maybe I should? This was cooked and seasoned perfectly, and the sauce was a nice compliment – a little sweet and a little tangy. The potatoes seemed more decorative than they were substantial to the dish, but still, they tasted good so I didn’t mind. When do I ever dislike potatoes? Hardly ever.
Alexis’ Thali platter was a small feast for a small person. She couldn’t believe the amount of food that arrived to our table just for her. Six small dishes holding an assortment of meat, fish, and sauce; mind you, these are small portions of food, but with the rice and the roti bread, it can seem a little overwhelming. There was Piri Piri shrimp (in Goan chili sauce with avocado and citrus salad), Murg Lababdar (chicken tikka in a creamy tomato-onion sauce), and Lamb Kolhapuri (lamb simmered in a spicy curry sauce, toasted coconut, star anise, and white poppy seed). The chicken tikka was by far my favorite – it’s SO tender and just melts in your mouth. YUM. I would definitely order that as a main course in the future. The shrimp was good too, but the lamb was a bit too spiced for my taste – I’m not a huge fan of star anise, sorry Junoon.
Definitely worth mentioning aside from the fantastic lunch deal is the raspberry unsweetened iced tea that they serve. LOVED this as a summer beverage – so cool and refreshing with just a hint of tart sweetness. They serve it with a shot of simple syrup too, so if sugar IS your thing, then sweeten away, my friends.
Ok so…we knew dessert wasn’t included with the prix fixe lunch, BUT we had to try one…or two. And OH MY SWEET JESUS they were both amazing. Seriously I would come back to Junoon just for tea and dessert. Let me try to explain these. The first one was a date-fig gateau (date-fig cake) with salty caramel sauce, merengue, black sesame crumble, and cinnamon ice cream. HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE. I would have NEVER thought that this would be my thing because I am NOT a big cake person. Cake is probably my LEAST favorite of the desserts family, and I would eat this cake every day if I could. So moist, a little sticky, and just perfect with the cinnamon ice cream and black sesame crumble. It was a beautifully composed and presented dish. Try this immediately.
The chocolate tart with tahitian vanilla ice cream was amazing too. The texture of the chocolate shell, and the bittersweet chocolate inside was creamy and dense. If you’re a chocolate addict like myself, you will need to try this. Keep in mind I think this was a special, so if they don’t have this, just get two of the date-fig cakes. You won’t regret that.
27 West 24th Street (btwn Broadway and 6th)
Lunch menu link: Junoon Lunch
Opentable Link: Junoon