Lala Sharma turned out his upscale, healthy take on Indian cuisine at Surya in the West Village for more than a decade before he expanded to the Upper West Side with his son, Abishek, and opened Swagat, a more traditional Indian restaurant, in 2011. Surya has since shuttered, but last night, the father-son duo debuted Savoury (489 Columbus Avenue, 212-875-1400), which will execute Lala’s original vision for his home country’s fare.
“Most Indian restaurants in New York are very traditional,” says Abishek. “We wanted to create something very different. This is unique Indian cuisine with a modern twist.” The family also needed a larger space to support the group dining requests they were getting at Swagat, and so they found an address where they could build a private dining room in addition to a main dining room and a lounge area.
The food at Savoury is similar to the food at Surya in that it’s also health-conscious, says Abishek, and dishes are devoid of the grease and oil typically associated with curries. The menu is replete with seafood, some of which is fired in the tandoori oven, and dishes include a baby lamb chop marinated in tamarind and ginger (an import from Surya), a basil kebab, and pan-sauteed scallops in coconut sauce. You’ll also find standards like chicken tikka masala and biryani, plus a full run of vegetable offerings like cauliflower in spicy tomato sauce, spiced okra, and cheese and spinach kofta.
Abishek says Savoury will have its liquor license in a week or two, and Mumbai-trained Fahim Abbasi will then turn out a list of cocktails like the tajmopolitan (Absolut Kurant, Chambord, lime, and cranberry juices) and the mango masala, a rum-spiked take on the mango lassi.
Savoury also serves a daily lunch, which also diverges from the norm in Indian restaurants here. “A lot of Indian restaurants do buffets,” says Abishek. “We let the customers choose anything they like from the menu, and it comes with bread or rice. For brunch on the weekends, you can choose an appetizer and a curry and bread and rice, and it’s $13.95. We wanted to offer a great bargain for lunch customers.”
Savoury is open Monday through Thursday for lunch from noon until 3 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m.; it’s open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.
See photos on the next page.