BWW Preview: IMLI Urban Indian Cuisine Opens on the UES
Imli is a new urban Indian restaurant in NYC by owners Mervyn Winston, Ram Reddy, and Albin Vincent, who seek to offer a different Indian culinary experience with unique preparations of dishes-some rarely seen on an Indian menu-and shareable small plates like those found at the bustling all-day cafés of Mumbai.
To craft the food menu the team has tapped Executive Chef Manuel Butler, a veteran Indian chef who consulted for the opening of Sahib, the recent recipient of a two-star New York Times review. He also opened Dhaba and Awad, and served as executive chef of Chote Nawab. At Imli, he has created a menu offering a range of experiences anchored by colonial Indian cuisine, with influences straddling modern and traditional representing various regions of India.
The large u-shaped space is cosmopolitan chic, with black concrete tables, a lacquered, rust-colored floor, silver studded cerulean fabric chairs, and wood walls adorned with a light, elegant pattern. Past the open kitchen in the back lies an enclosed, sky lit outdoor patio, perfect for groups and private events to enjoy views of the outdoors in any weather. Wooden tables, wicker-backed chairs and tasteful design elements like a wall of perennial plants fill the space.
Each meal at Imli begins with an amuse bouche to stimulate the palate. Guests may then choose from an extensive menu of small plates, best paired with a flight of signature housemade dipping sauces-divided into mild, medium or hot categories-from the list of 20 selections including pear-apple, peanut chutney with mustard seeds, and spicy tomato. There isArgentinian Shrimp with turmeric, mustard seeds, curry leaves and green apple, options that break from tradition such as Kerala Beef, fork-tender chunks marinated with yogurt, onions, black pepper, cardamom and curry leaves, and a European-influenced Scotch Egg, a traditional soft-boiled egg encased in an Indian-spiced lamb meatball. Vegetarian small plates includeAchari Mushrooms made with white button mushrooms, garam masala and Achari spice blend.
Entrées are divided into Meat, Seafood and Vegetarian sections, with unique specialties like theImli Burger, a blend of beef, garlic, cumin, coriander and chilies, served with masala-spiced fries, and the Tandoori Pizza topped with paneer cheese, tandoor-cooked toppings and Indian spices. Other standouts are the Chicken Rezala, tender chicken pieces in a light coating of flavorful, creAmy White gravy made with yogurt, cashew nut and poppy seed paste, and Pan-Seared Duck, served with garam masala-spiced cauliflower and potato mash. For vegetarian entrées, consider the Brussels Sprouts Medley, with turmeric, tomato and garam masala curry, and Vegetarian Tandoori Platter with mixed vegetables, pineapple and paneer cheese. Side dishes include a variety of rice from lemon to coconut, to mixed vegetable and paneer pulao, as well as breads like mushroom and truffle naan, and parathas like whole wheat andpeshawari with dried nuts and fruit.