Time Travel Disguised as a Foodie Experience

For a taste of India, and a taste of history, hit up the new bistro, The Drunken Munkey, in the West Village. With a slightly different menu than its sister restaurant on the Upper East Side, warm staff members, and a historical take on Indian food, it’s like nowhere else in the city.

 

At our big table of hungry New York City media, we ate a literal feast over three blissful hours. Co-owner, Arun Mirchandani, and his dapper uncle were seasoned hosts, full of intriguing facts and familial anecdotes. They helped transport us to a train car in the late 1800s, speeding across the country of India, steaming hot plates of food dropped off in front of us every five minutes.
drunken munkey west village
First stop: Cocktails. You need to try the punch, or “Paanch,” listed at the very top of the menu. It’s a combo of vodka, gin, cognac and about 20 different spices. Its sweet and sour harmony provoked my palate with a naturally occurring umami. This is officially my favorite NYC cocktail of the season.
drunken munkey cocktail
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of focus on restauranteurs elevating Indian Cuisine in New York City. From Imli on the East Side, to Saar on the West, it feels like a movement. Maybe Indian Cuisine is becoming more widely accepted, and more of a necessity for the glamorous dinner crowd.
Indian food shrimp

Next stop:
All the apps. Crispy Okra was demolished faster than french fries, and the Chili Cheese Toast was like heartwarming garlic bread on the menu of any fabulous Italian restaurant. These were all choices that were undeniably different, yet vaguely familiar. Arun told us that the Chili Cheese Toast is something you would get at a friend’s house as an afternoon snack in Northern India.
Drunken Munkey chili cheese toast

My favorite entree was Arun’s grandmother’s Fish Curry. Her exact recipe, using monkfish, she even taste-tested the dish multiple times before it went public to ensure it tasted correct.

Another stand-out was the Railway Chicken Curry, a dish that would have been served in colonial India, served on the train cars. The dish was originally preserved with vinegar for long rides, and the seasoning would depend on your location in India. With these local flavorings, every dish would taste different.

More of what we ate:

 

Lamb kebabs
Lamb Seekh Kebabs
Drunken Munkey Indian food
Paani Puri – crispy flour puffs, cold, with spiced yogurt and chickpea chaat
Chicken entree Drunken Munkey
Tandoori Chicken Tikka
Samosas
Chicken Samosas
Masala Bombay Lamb Chops-I didn’t get a pic because it went so fast. MUST TRY! This dish literally melts in your mouth.

Drunken Munkey Chicken Biryani – with a breaded topping, this is a must-try.

DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON DESSERT.

The Cricket Rum Ball is one of the best ideas on the face of the earth. “Moist rum-infused chocolate cake,” is all you need to know.

Rum cake

*Great deal alert:
Get the dinner prix-fixe for $39. Includes an entree, side and cocktail or glass of  house wine.

You’ll find The Drunken Munkey tucked away on Cornelia Street, an iconic street in the West Village. I didn’t even realize walking in that it took over the spot vacated by Mario Batali’s “Pó.” Not only that, but Al Pacino worked there back in the day as a waiter, AND it was the first Off-Broadway theater in New York City, where both Glenn Close and Meryl Streep performed for stints.

Cornelia Street
It feels like a well-kept secret, with its dark interior, brassy bar, and dim roar of the city beyond. Bring a date, or a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and sink in to the plump leather booths that feel like they’ve been waiting for you for a long long time, ready to take you on a journey to a far-off locale, or another time entirely.
Bar Drunken Munkey
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4 comments

  1. Beautiful shots, and I agree I think that although Indian food has been a New York staples for a long time, that people are starting to become a little more adventurous. I don’t know how you could hesitate with food that looks and smells that good but hey to each his own. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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