After closing for several years due to a huge rent increase and Sandy damage, Surya has reopened in a similar sized space on Bleecker Street. The ochre yellow walls, vintage photos and exposed brick behind the bar which is lit by Edison bulbs are pleasant as are the comfy chairs that make up most of the seating . The place has a more casual vibe than its previous incarnation but retains many menu items.
If you want a drink, there are several red and white wines by glass and bottle and a large, rotating selection of beers. Cocktail your thing? Monsoon Iced Tea combines two kinds of rum with tea while the Tajmopolitan tweaks the usual with Absolut kurant vodka, Chambord, lime and cranberry juices.
The spinach palak moong chat is simultaneously crispy and moist thanks to sprouted lentils and fried onions. Chaats, street food now found all over India and other parts of south Asia, are typically crisp and savory, designed to be eaten by hand although at Surya we used forks (and admired the beautifully composed plate on which our chaat was presented.) The cauliflower chili fry was terrific, the florets bathed in spicy red sauce. Both the smoked tomato soup and scallops in a tamarind coconut sauce sounded interesting but we held back to enjoy what came next. Chicken tikka masala isn't novel but here it's particularly well cooked and beautifully seasoned as are the vindaloos and chettinad that can be had with goat (one of my faves), lamb or chicken. Railway Chicken Curry brings the bird in tomatoes, cilantro , garam masala and onions. Vegetarians have lots of options with a mixed veg makhani, aloo gobi muttar with cauliflower, peas and potatoes with a hit of cumin, tandoor roasted eggplant and lots more.
The raita here is light and pleasing and, together with mango chutney, is wonderful on any of the breads. We enjoyed the rosemary nan although the garlic version wins raves as does the onion and black pepper kulcha, puffed poori, multilayered whole wheat bread and roti.
High praise for the masaledar chaaps, three succulent, well-seasoned lamb chops bathed in red wine, ginger, yogurt and spices before grilling, served with a generous portion of mixed vegetables. A potato and eggplant dish with curry leaves is listed as a Surya special as is the Callicut pepper chicken, hit with green chilies, and crispy salmon with fenugreek, turmeric and tamarind sauce. The usual tandoori chicken, veg biryani and saag, that spinach and ginger mash with chicken, lamb or shrimp are also on the men.
Indian desserts aren't my thing although fig ice cream sounds interesting and I've heard that the pistachio or mango kulfi makes a satisfying finish.
Chef/owner Lala Sharma is off to a good start at Surya which is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 12-3 and dinner Monday through Thursday from 5 PM to midnight and on Fridays and Saturdays to 1 AM. Delivery and catering are available; the unisex restroom is clean and spacious and all credit cards are accepted.