2005_11_food_leela.jpgWhat do you get when you cross a James Beard Award-winning chef, an inventive pastry chef innovative cocktails, historical artwork, and a dash of curry powder? Leela Lounge. We heard about it from a friend with a trustworthy palate, and got the chance to stop by in its maiden week. We only had time for a few appetizers on this visit, but we're going to hurry back to taste more. The Indian menu is given a local and international twist, so even something as traditional as a samosa is invigorated by the addition of shitake mushrooms, and the lamb kabobs were served alongside a fig chutney that was so tasty we wouldn't let the waitress remove our plate until we were able to wipe it clean with a piece of warm naan. Chefs Peter Beck and Jahangir Mehta have created not only an original spin on Indian cuisine, but the Leela Lounge team has packaged it in a pleasant, calming atmosphere, complete with a lounge area near the bar, and beautiful artwork tying into the translation of Leela: divine play.

Leela Lounge, 1 West 3rd Street, between Broadway and Mercer, 212-529-2059