Elettaria: Where Saag Paneer Is 'Saag Paneer'

Elettaria puts chefs onstage, plays with convention, and comes out ahead

The space inhabited by Elettaria was formerly the 8th Wonder, a club where Jimi Hendrix played. The spot where the stage used to be has been remade into the open kitchen.

One night, the only reservation available was for 6:30 (the place had been booked solid for the last couple weeks). The restaurant is quite loud once it fills up, but at that time, there were only a few other occupied tables; it was so quiet that I could hear the sizzle of mustard seeds hitting hot oil before the aroma floated out over the dining room.

As I watched Nawab and his motley band of good-looking chefs start the night's service, it occurred to me that this stagey setup finally makes the chef-into-rock-star transformation explicit. I sipped my mai tai with its perky sprig of mint and gave thanks that when chefs are stars, the drinks are worth drinking.

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