Written by Hulda Lawrence
with M.J. Boyer

Past Reviews

BenaresNew to Manhattan is Benares at 240 West 56th Street (212) 397-0707, devoted to Indian food with a totally Indian staff. Prominently displayed in the front of the restaurant is a handsome and decorated chandelier imported from India. It features colorful globes of glass and is a fascinating fixture. We were ushered to our seats and greeted by Mr. Inder Singh, the entrepreneur and a former owner of Devi and Baluchi. He is partnered with acclaimed executive chef, Peter Beck, formerly of Tamarind.

A variety of cocktails are offered from the Benares Martini, done with gin, lillet, grapefruit and orange peels soaked in homemade bitters to the Stompin' at the Savoy, made with gin and punt e mes. We selected a Galat Negroni of gin, aperol, sweet vermouth moss petillant natural for my companion, and my choice was a Fairbanks Cocktail of apricot infused rum, meyer lemon, grapefruit and lime juices and Demerara syrup. It was so good I had a second while my companion had a glass of pinot grigio.

As we sipped our drinks we enjoyed sampling several appetizers: Grilled tender pieces of chicken marinated in yogurt; Karwari Shrimps spiced with chili and coated with semolina poppy seeds pan seared; Samosas and onion kulcha.

For our main course we ordered a house speciality, Sevai Tomato Korma: mussels, scallops, rock shrimp and crab claws tossed in garlic sauce over Indian Style rice noodles at $23 and Safed Gosht: marinated lamb in ginger, garlic and yogurt at $16. Other popular courses are Aamiya Jhinga, Jumbo Prawns marinated in mango, chili and ginger; Goldhar Dhingri, sauteed lobster and wild mushrooms; Chicken Vindaloo; Chicken Curry; Chicken Shahi Korma with cashews and almonds; and Rezala Goat cooked in onion, yogurt, saffron and cardamon. These dishes range from $15 to $28.

There is a vegetarian section at $13 and all kinds of rice and bread are available. A number of "sides," tomato, mango, tomato chutney and mango chutney, are $4 to $7. Soups include Kashmiri with roasted turnip, beetroot, and pigeon peas, also Chicken Soup flavored with fennel, black pepper, coconut and tomato. The soups are $8.

Is there dessert, there certainly is. Mango Kulfi is mango-flavored ice cream and very tasty. There also are Shahi Dawat, carrot pudding, or Naranga Kheer, orange flavored rice pudding. Each day only at lunch a lavish buffet is set up and diners can enjoy this beautiful array for only $12.95. It is a steal!

Benares is an opportunity for enterprising diners to taste a large number of new foods at a reasonable price.

Hours: Lunch Monday to friday 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner Monday to Friday 5 p.m. to $10.30: Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Wheelchairs: Yes
Credit Cards: All Major
Price: $$

The Restaurant Revue Ratings

The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

$ Inexpensive $25
$$ Moderate $50
$$$ Expensive $100
$$$$ Very Expensive $150

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