The flavors of India are less sparse in TriBeCa now that the second location of Benares has opened on Murray Street near Church Street. Although delayed by Hurricane Sandy, the location opened its doors at the end of November inside a Corinthian column-decked storefront that formerly housed a camera shop. Chef and owner Inder Singh—who is "not a genie" according to the press release, which now has us wondering—draws inspiration from all over India, though most of Singh's dishes are informed by the mostly vegetarian cuisine of the northern state of Utter Pradesh, where the city of Benares is located.
The menu is enormous, thanks to a fully customized kitchen that Singh was able to build to his specifications. Vegetarian options include Achari Bhindi, a fresh okra dish cooked with picking spices and a Banarsi Kachori appetizer composed of crispy flour puffs served with a tomato salsa, potatoes and chutney plus a hearty list of curries and tandoori dishes. Chicken, lamb, goat and "surprisingly delicious" seafood options, like the Sevai Tomato Kurma (seafood medley in a tomato curry over Indian-style rice noodles) and Raan E Akbari (leg of lamb in a rum-flavored sauce and roasted vegetables) are also offered.
Though it's hard to picture from the outside, a granite-topped bar and lounge area (where patrons can enjoy a glass of wine from the "perfectly appointed wine list") opens to an ultra modern dining room with tan-colored leather banquette seating and hardwood floors. A swirling ceiling design and bright red wall accent pieces add dynamic touches in the otherwise streamlined dining area. Benares Downtown is open for both lunch and dinner with a delivery option also available to the neighborhood.
45 Murray Street // 212-766-4900