Are you looking to meet likeminded ‘foodie centric’ individuals who spend the majority of their free time on Eater.com and thrive on checking out a city’s newest restaurants? Do you love eating (who doesn’t) and trying out lots of different foods and restaurants? Are you adventurous when it comes to food? If you answered yes to these questions, you should definitely think about joining a supper club in your local city. One supper club I recommend is Tasting Collective, which promotes itself as ‘food lover’s community’. Currently they have meetups in Austin, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. With this supper club you pay a yearly membership (about $200), then pay for each event you attend. What makes these events exciting is that you usually get six + courses family style (with many dishes not available on the regular menu) for a very reasonable amount ($50 + tip and tax), and you get the chance to meet the chef and ask him or her questions and rate each dish as it comes out. Tasting Collective is focused on smaller, independently run restaurants, where the chef is usually a partner or owner, so your thoughts and opinions really matter. Word on the street is, they already have 3,000 plus members, so make sure to RSVP to an event as soon as they send the first email about it! Luckily, I have been able to get myself into two events thus far, and I can safely say, the food is always excellent, you often leave super full, and the chef is always excited to come out of the kitchen, introduce him or herself and answer any questions from the ‘audience’. This past week I attended their event at Baar Baar on the Lower East Side in New York City. In my humble opinion I must say, it’s easily one of the best Indian restaurants in NYC.
New York’s first modern Indian gastro bar, Baar Baar, which translates to ‘again and again’, has a décor and ambiance unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Upon arrival you will immediately become captivated by the spectacular, ornate, mural on the wall depicting a very attractive, youthful Indian woman. Another thing that will jump out at you is the vibrant color profile of the interior of the restaurant. A bright, plush, teal couch snakes its way around the restaurant and tables are completed with lime green, wicker back chairs that look like they came from a different era. A trendy marble clad bar sits front and center of the restaurant adorned with sexy leather, comfortable bar stools and beautiful ‘thorny tree branch looking’ chandeliers are hung from the high ceilings.
There are many other little quirky things about this place that make it so unique and memorable. There’s a table setup towards the back of the restaurant which is setup next to shelves aligned with a variety of unique antiques, and there’s an adorable little lounge area at the front of the restaurant with comfortable couches. The restaurant itself has a warehouse like feel with concrete floors, an exposed ceiling, and bare, beige colored walls, covered with large framed mirrors as if to hide the bare walls, as well as exposed columns in the middle of the restaurant. It’s quite an eclectic looking place.
Food and Drinks:
While the food and dessert menu promise to get you giddy with anticipation of your meal ahead, the cocktail menu alone will take your breath away. Mixologists incorporate traditional Indian ingredients along with vibrant, sweet, and savory flavors to create unique drinks that will invigorate all of your senses. Baar Baar also incorporates an innovative wine list from various vineyards around the world. Be sure to check out their happy hour on Monday-Friday from 5-7pm, it’s definitely worth it.
Now for the good stuff…food! The dinner menu showcases a collection of traditional recipes tweaked to fit a more modern clientele. Immediately upon seating, a complimentary dish of Dahi Puri will be served and it is excellent. One bite on the crispy dough, and an explosion of unique flavors will burst into your mouth. It’s delightful start to the meal ahead. The menu itself has so many amazing options, it’s actually a bit overwhelming! There are Kulchas (Indian sourdough bread with different fillings and toppings), which are an absolute necessity considering the massive amount of sauce most dishes come with, chutneys, small plates and shareable large places. Be sure to order a ton of small plates, which pair perfectly with their cocktail menu. Favorites include the Kashmiri lamb ribs, baked chicken and lamb kheema.
Make sure you save room for some shareable large plates! Give the traditional butter chicken, lamb shank, market fish a go if you’re looking for suggestions. The traditional butter chicken is outrageous. You can tell the chicken was cooked in the sauce for a long time as it has a nice flavor from the sauce and the meat just fell apart. The sauce alone is enough to make you lick the plate clean (make sure to pair this dish with the garlic naan, yum). The market fish also nice and unique flavor profile to it. The sauce is mustard cream based and pairs well with the flaky white fish. If you’re a meat eater, you cannot go wrong with the lamb shank. It’s a huge drumstick of lamb in a very flavorful, slightly spicy sauce. So much meat…!
Don’t leave without completing you meal with dessert, trust me! Sadly, I had something not on the menu (chocolate rum ball), but it was so amazing, I am now inclined to want to order all of the desserts. The pictures on Yelp look fantastic!
Perfect for hangovers, Baar Baar also does brunch accompanied by live music on Sundays, how can you go wrong there?! (Apparently Saturday is more of a dance party brunch and Sunday is more relaxed from what I hear).
Chef Sujan Sarkar:
The chef, and part owner, Chef Sujan Sarkar is a very introspective artist know for his bold culinary leaps. He opened ROOH, an urban Indian inspired gastronomic restaurant and cocktail bar in San Francisco before coming to New York City to open Baar Baar. At Baar Baar, Sarkar plays around with sous-vide, foams, and gels but the focus is really on traditional cuisine like tandoori mushrooms, Kashmiri-style lamb ribs, and absolutely fantastic butter chicken, and innovative Indian cuisine such as potato and bone marrow kulcha, asparagus pepper fry with cauliflower mousse and oysters with guava, and chile granita. He says that ‘when it comes to contemporary Indian food, New York is far behind. Welcome to NYC Chef Sarkar, we’re glad to have you!