Indian Accent is the younger sister of the restaurant of the same name in Delhi, both being run by Manish Mehrotra. The New York version opened in February 2016 in mid-town, just below Central Park. It is in the Parker Meridien hotel but has its own street entrance. The chef is Vivek Rana, who worked at the original Delhi branch before moving here. The chef reckoned that most Indian ingredients could be found over here, though he imports a particular salt that he likes from India.
There is a bar as you enter, the dining room stretching out beyond this with a few booths to one side. The decor is quite simple, with dark wood and white walls, with a hard floor and jazz playing in the background. It was a busy night and quite buzzy, though the noise levels were just about tolerable. There was a tasting menu at $120 but also a full a la carte selection, with three courses at $75. The wine list was quite extensive, with an unusually good selection of German Riesling, which goes particularly well with spicy food. It featured labels such as Sybille Kuntz Kabinett Trocken 2014 at $68 for a bottle that you can find for $23 in the high street, Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese 2013 at $110 compared to its retail price of $42, and Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Spatlese 2014 at $310 for a bottle that will currently set you back $151 in a shop.
A little nibble of coconut shorba and blue cheese miniature naan appeared. The soup was genuinely good, with deep, spicy flavour (15/20) and the unusual take on a naan is a signature dish at Indian Accent in Delhi, and worked very well, with soft texture and distinct cheese flavour (14/20). Potato sphere chaat topped with white pea mash was a classy version of the breed, with excellent tamarind chutney adding its sweetness, the balance of the flavours very good. It was unusually small in size, a recurring theme here (14/20). Crab claws were cooked with butter, garlic and pepper and came with little cauliflower florets. These were a touch fiddly to eat but the requisite instruments were provided, and the good thing was that they were nice and spicy. I was a bit concerned that the spicing levels would be artificially restrained in New York so as not to spook the locals, but there was a decent kick of pepper here (14/20). I was rather less taken by Bengal rice khichdi (the dish that inspired kedgeree) with spicy lentils and smoked pieces of popadoms. This was not unpleasant but was just very ordinary, the elements properly cooked but for me lacking much real interest (12/20).
The main courses that we tried were better. Keema of soy with egg was nicely spicy with little pau bread buns bringing an extra texture. This had great depth of flavour - it takes talent to make soy really interesting but this dish certainly was (15/20). Chicken kofta (minced chicken with spices) came with onion pakora and kadhi, a gravy based on chickpea flavour and sour yoghurt. This was very pleasant, quite mild, with good pakoras (13/20). On the side was very good butter chicken kulcha (bread made with maida wheat leavened with baking powder and yoghurt), which had excellent texture (14/20). A side dish of black dhal was also very authentic, slow cooked and with a hint of smokiness, the lentils and their sauce deeply flavoured (easily 14/20)
For dessert we tried treacle tart with vanilla bean ice cream topped with barfi (an Indian sweet made with condensed milk). This was excellent, with delicate pastry, treacly barfi and nice quality vanilla ice cream. The textures were very good (14/20). With tea came a tray of petit fours including peanut brittle, sesame biscuits and slices of dried fruit.
Service tonight was very professional, even though the restaurant was packed out and so the staff were working flat out. The bill came to $137 (£106) per person with a simple but enjoyable bottle of Riesling. This is quite hefty by the standards of Indian food in London, though the price in sterling is not helped by the currently dismal exchange rate to the dollar. Although this was not to the same standard as the Delhi Indian Accent, it was nonetheless very enjoyable, and in a different league from other Indian restaurants I have tried in the US over the years (I still remember the shambles that was the flashy and mercifully now deceased Tabla in Manhattan, where you could literally fold the popadoms). Portions could be a touch more generous in size here, but there was plenty of food to eat and the general standard was very good.