I have been to Junoon three times now, twice having sat in the lounge and once in the dining room. My conclusion: I love, love the food; I hate the formality and rigidness of the place.
Two examples of the latter:
Shortly after they first opened, my girlfriend and I tried a couple of dishes in the lounge (including their spectacular tandoori lobster) and loved it. So when we needed a place to dine with a group of 8, we called them to make a reservation. Even though they had only recently opened and were completely off the radar screen (and thus half full at best during prime time), they told us they would only accept a reservation for 8 if we ordered from their tasting menu (which, in fairness, offers a lot of choices, but does require one to order the full menu). We politely told them that we were not interested if we could not order a la carte; they declined the reservation rather than accommodate our request.
For my next visit, I brought a client, we sat in the dining room, ordered the tasting menu, and loved it. So my girlfriend and I returned, but chose to sit in the lounge instead of the dining room, since we find it more comfortable and relaxed, and were not interested in the full tasting menu. I wanted to order the same lamb dish I had eaten with my client, but noticed that the lounge menu was an abridged version of the full menu, and that the lamb was not on it. To get the restaurant to agree to serve me the lamb in the lounge was like pulling teeth. The waiter broke out into a sweat when I asked if it could be done; he had to call over the manager. The manager VERY reluctantly agreed to do it, only after we very politely explained that we would rather eat elsewhere if they wouldn't accommodate our request.
Maybe I'm being unreasonable. Maybe it is a challenge for the kitchen to make exceptions to their policies. But we live in the neighborhood and want to be regulars, but we're just not interested in that level of formality and rigidity.
What do others think?
By the way, I'm not trying to trash the place: For those who do want a more formal, high level dining experience, I highly recommend Junoon, and I will return when that is what I am looking for. But when my girlfriend and I just want a casual night out, we'll go elsewhere. It just seems silly to us that they'd rather turn us away than accommodate what strike me as fairly reasonable requests.
27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010