I am a big fan of Baluchi's, an Indian restaurant that serves fantastic and delightfully tasty Indian cuisine. So I was a bit disappointed when I saw that their Midtown location was replaced by Benares, although another Indian restaurant! Baluchi's had this great lunch deal (50% off) and an amazing crab curry that I could have eaten all day (ok, I exaggerate a bit). I heard from a former Baluchi's employee that they simply sold the place, maybe because it was not profitable enough. So, I decided to go to Benares, with an open mind...I went twice in fact!
The decor is totally different: although Balucci's has a more traditional decor, Benares looks more modern.
There is no more lunch deal, but a buffet instead for close to $13.
The buffet proposes approx. 9 different dishes, some vegetarian and some not.
This is what I ate:
Gobi Masala - Cauliflower Curry
Saag Paneer - a very common dish, I found it a bit overcooked.
Shrimp Moilee - Pretty good with thick sauce that had a nice flavor.
Chicken Tikka Masala - This is the dish I always try in an Indian restaurant. It was just ok for me.
Lamb curry - I'll pass on that one! The curry had a weird taste and the lamb was tough! Not the best part used for sure!
Tandoori Chicken - I liked it! The chicken was well cooked, still moist and not spicy with nice flavors. It is not on the buffet table: they will bring it to your table.
Veggie Pakora - good and crispy, this is a nice appetizer.
Yellow Daal (lentils) - very good: I liked the thickness of it and it was flavorful. Great vegetarian dish.
Gulab Jamun - Gulab Jamun is my favorite dessert! It is a deep fried milk dough that is then immersed in a sugar syrup. At Benares, the consistency was perfect, but it was way too sweet!
Ras Malai - It means literally Juicy Cream. It is a sweet dessert made of cheese balls (to simplify the explanation...) simmered in milk and cream. It was quite good and not too sweet.
Naan bread - they will bring the naan bread to your table. Both times I was at Benares, the bread seemed to have been pre-made: it was a bit hard and dry.
I was clearly not wowed by Benares and the feedback I received from my colleagues seem to confirm the opinion I have of it. If you want to eat for less than $20 with tax and tip, this is not a bad deal, but do not expect some incredible Indian food: it is just ok and seems to be inconsistent. I wish Baluchi's was still there! Come back!
Enjoy (I barely did)!