Sure, they claim to be averse to meat, but when it comes to eating out, vegetarians can cause a whole lot of beef. Thankfully, there's a new spot in town bridging the gap between the pious and the proteinaceous: Benares
Sprouting up (get it?! sprout!? yeahhh, you got it) in the theater district thanks to a who's who of NY's Indian scene that includes the James Beard-awarded chef from Tamarind, Benares feels like a simultaneously gilded and unassuming banquet hall, with a multicolored orb chandelier and golden seats offset by wooden tables and framed saris from the owners' female family members. Veggie dishes are complex enough to appease more meat-ready palates, from baby eggplants simmered in a curry gravy (coconut, peanuts, stuffed peppers), to a soup of roasted turnips, pigeon peas, fennel, garlic, cumin, and pickled okra called Kashmiri (be sure to make like Diddy and cover it before saying "Come With Me"). But it's not all from the garden, as "unusual seafood and meat dishes" include mushroom-garlic-sauced lobster chunks served in the tail, whole maram masala Tandoori Hen, and Sevai Tomato Kurma: rice noodles studded w/ mussels, rock shrimp, scallops & crab claws, then covered in garlic-tomato sauce, as only adding a pinch would totally undermine those claws
A focused list of 25 small-production vinos is on hand to wash it down, but the cocktails pair nicely too, including a tequila number mixed with roasted pineapple, housemade orange liquor, and chili-laced grenadine, surely capable of turning the staunchest vegetarian into a total animal.