Acclaimed Houston chef Anita Jaisinghani debuts her first New York restaurant Pondicheri today, bringing her masala flavored breakfast dishes and experimental baked goods to 15 West 27th Street. Jaisinghani, who earned two James Beard nominations in Texas with upscale Indian restaurant Indika and casual restaurant and bakery Pondicheri, introduced breakfast, lunch, and signature pastry counter Bake Lab as a soft opening today. A slightly more upscale dinner menu will be coming in a few weeks.
Jaisinghani and chef team Nikhil Kumar and Scott Jech brought some of Pondicheri Houston’s highlights to the New York space. At breakfast, Pondicheri New York offers items like a breakfast roti wrap with masala eggs, a stuffed paratha, and a rice and almond pancake with cardamom. Lunch options include even more stuffed rotis, a selection of curries, and a slew of salads like the warm harvest salad, made with roasted radishes, green masala paneer, snap peas, squash, and a toasted cashew cumin dressing. Meanwhile, the Bake Lab up front will be open all day, with pastries such as a pista scone made with pistachio and blueberries. Gluten-free and vegan options, including a quinoa muffin and an almond cake madeline, will also be on hand.
The 5,000-square-foot space acts as a cafe during the day, says Jaisinghani’s daughter Ajna Jai, who’s managing the location. People can stop by to grab chai tea and a pastry, or they can order breakfast or lunch at the counter and sit for a while. "I want people to feel just as comfortable grabbing a cookie sitting down as getting a whole lunch," she says. "I don’t want it to be like ‘You’re taking a table.’ I want it to be a place where New Yorkers feel like they can hang out." Dinner will a little more formal, with table service and reservations, but the overall feel will still be casual, Jai says. "I want someone who went to a yoga class to come here and eat, and someone who’s on their way to prom," she says. Stay tuned for photos of the space, dinner service and bar service, which will only be using craft spirits. Check out both the Meatless Mondays and regular menu below, and if you stop by, let us know what you think.