The sit-down lunch buffet at Benares Midtown is everything it promises to be: filling, warming Indian food that sends you waddling happily back down Broadway.
A reasonable $12.50 gives diners access to a flavorful array of curries, fritters, and dal, accompanied by sauces and freshly-made saffron rice with peas. The lineup of silver buffet trays is roughly split between vegetarian and meatless options, with a welcome dessert section at the end.
One of the strong points of Benares is the freshness of the buffet items; rather than reheating dishes that were cooked hours ago, the restaurant continuously cooks and refills small servings of food.
Classic dishes like tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, and saag paneer are spicy, though not spicy enough to break out the tissues. A spoonful of cold plain yogurt sauce from the buffet table complements the heat, as does a lassi from the drink menu (which also includes a wine list and cocktails).
Other meat dishes include South Indian kozhi varutha curry, chicken swimming in a coconut-based sauce spiked with chili, ginger, and garlic. Dal and simmered eggplant in coconut curry are among the vegetarian options. The lunch buffet selection rotates, but count on plenty of bright sauces to mop up with complimentary naan.
Save room for dessert, especially if an option is ras malai—paneer soaked in sweet cream with cardamom. Gulab jamun, small fried dumplings saturated with spiced honey, are delicious.
Benares is ideal for a workday; quality hot food with table service that's quick enough for a lunch break, and will leave your wallet intact.
240 West 56th Street