Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Purnima

When Chef Gordon Ramsay opens a restaurant of his own everyone wonders how many stars it will receive. When that same chef puts a restaurant on his show, Kitchen Nightmares, everyone wonders how long before the restaurant closes. On a recent visit to New York I had the privilege of going to one such restaurant from last season, Purnima. This place was a mess when Chef Ramsay arrived: shoddy management by committee, a filthy kitchen with little to no leadership, and a wild menu with very little that made anyone think Indian. Chef Ramsay brought in Vikas Khanna, a talented young Indian chef, cleaned, and trimmed the management fat.

My visit came a couple months after the show updating viewers on the state of Purnima and other Ramsay transformed locales. The interior is still nice, contemporary and sedate. The service is warm and solid, although I was served what seemed to be a merlot when I asked and was charged for a pinot noir. The menu is classic Indian; Samosas, Kormas, and Vindaloos, among others. The Samosas are just ok, I had better at another Indian place in the same trip. The lamb korma was very good, the meat perfectly done and the sauce well balanced. But two things stood out on my visit. The first, and most obvious, was that the place was empty. It was just me, the manager, two servers and the cooks. I am afraid Purnima may not last long. So while it is there go, if for no other reason, for the other outstanding little bit of Purnima, The Naan Bread. This Nan deserves capitalizing. It is by far the best I have ever tasted. So go for The Naan, stay for the food, and say hi to Chef Vikas while you’re there, but don’t just go in for a picture with him ladies.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

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