For all of you who just read the review of Junnoon in the Merc, and like me, said...hmm, do I want to risk iffy service for a weekend dinner? A friend and I grabbed lunch on Tuesday, right after 12 p.m., and had the "Power lunch" prix fixe menu. They do a prix fixe with an appetizer/entree or salad/entree option (I think i got that right).
The restaurant has a very clubby, modern feel in hues of magenta and purple. As you enter, there's a great bar area with a few booths...empty on a Tuesday at lunch, though on a Friday or Saturday night I'm sure it fills up right quick. It's easy to bypass the host's station by the door.
The lunch starts off with papadum and a hummus-like spread (but creamier) that neither of us could quite identify the spice (but it was very tasty).
I had the semolina shells to start, which were a half shell of crunchy pastry filled with chickpeas and dressed with a sweet tamarind and accented by a sprinkle of yellow something (not saffron, but a lightly crunchy something). There were about half a dozen of them, so definitely a generous portion to start. Followed by the kaathi chicken roll -- tandoori chicken(though I swear it said chicken tikka on the menu), wrapped in paratha (making it a nouveau Indian wrap) with mint chutney and a strangely tasteless mix of julienned carrots and peppers on the side.
My friend had the fennel and coriander chicken tikka to start, followed by the paneer and red pepper cake in a lovely sauce (I can't honestly remember what it was -- this was a girlfriends' visit, not a pure Chowhound visit, so no notes were taken sureptitiously during lunch.
Dessert -- there was a Saffron Kulfi with this or that that sounded good, but I don't really dig rice pudding-ish desserts. We bypassed the chocolate cake and went the purist route with the champagne poached peaches w/ cardamom ice cream. Tasty. Worth the price? Mmm, well, maybe if it had a been a Frog Hollow peach. At the very least, I'll try them at home and see if I get a similar result.
Service was attentive -- the restaurant was maybe 1/3 full at lunch on a Tuesday. Though it did end up being an extended lunch, I think it was mostly because we were gabbing, not because service was lax. The experience overall was pleasant enough that I'd definitely try it on an evening. That said, on the full menu, they charge separately for rice, naan and chutney. True, this is sort of modern Indian cuisine, not down home, but the idea sort of rankles me. At the very least, try it for lunch if you can, and make your own determination about going back for dinner.