Sona in Flatiron is a fantastic place for anyone looking to see what Indian fine dining currently feels like in NYC, and how it’s evolved from its white tablecloth beginnings in the latter half of the 20th century. This restaurant - partially owned by Priyanka Chopra - is sleeker than it is formal, and serves a long menu with sections dedicated to Mumbai classics and globally-influenced dishes (like a gruyere roti, oysters, and kulcha with spicy salami and pine nuts).
Although our meal here had some misses, the knockouts are reason enough to come for a nice dinner out. If you’re with a group, order one dish from each section of the mains as well as an appetizer or two and plenty of paratha bread to sop up your plate. Sharing is the best course of action here. And, even if it sounds like you’re ordering too much, just follow your heart (which will soon be dedicated to buckwheat bhel and shrimp rock shrimp koliwada). We’ve laid out all our favorite dishes below.
Remember Sona the next time you need a place to wear a sport coat to dinner, or if you’re looking for somewhere upscale in Flatiron to drink some excellent gin and tonics and impress a group.
Rock Shrimp Koliwada
This is a take on a fried drinking snack in Mumbai that’s made by marinating prawns (or fish) in spices, yogurt, and some sort of binding flour, then frying them to bright, golden perfection. Sona’s rock shrimp has tons of crispiness from the batter, while staying perfectly cooked inside. After a couple minutes of sitting, the breading might start to clump to each other and soften, but we’re kind of into that texture.
Order this cold starter salad with puffed grains, crunchy sev, cucumbers, and fenugreek for some contrast to the hot and heavy dishes we recommend. It’s light, refreshing, and has pops of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds.
Floyd’s Goan Fish Curry
This curry is dedicated to the late chef Floyd Cardoz - who sadly passed away at the beginning of the pandemic. When we went for dinner here, all of the proceeds for the dish were being donated to Covid relief in India as a tribute to Floyd. That fact alone is reason to order it - but this mild, coconut-based curry is also one of the dishes that shows off the quality of the kitchen’s technique. The white fish is cooked perfectly, with crispy skin on top and big flakes that easily separate without a knife. Plus a couple of rogue clams in their shells that you can and should use to slurp up the curry.
Gruyere Cheese Dosa
Gruyere isn’t usually found on Indian menus. And, after tearing off pieces of this party-hat-like dosa with gooey cheese melted on the inside, we hope more restaurants consider incorporating it into some dishes. Plus, there’s a pile of mashed root vegetables hiding underneath the upright dosa that works as the perfect filling for your cheesy dosa wrap topped with coconut and roasted tomato chutneys.
India House’s Butter Chicken
Sona’s menu is long and full of regional Indian specialties. So are we really telling you to order one of the dishes you’ve probably had a million times before? We are. We have to. Eat this creamy, smoky tomato-based dish with chicken so tender you could stare at it and it would fall apart.
You know what your Sona meat-and-fish party really needs? A vat of smoky, creamy, and slow-cooked black lentils. We order this specific type of dal anytime we see it on a menu. If you don’t relate to our approach, Sona’s version will convince you otherwise.
Layered, flaky, and buttery. Use this to pick up pieces of butter chicken, fish, and just about everything else on the table. Each order has two pieces, and you’ll probably want at least one to yourself.
Gin & Tonics
Sona serves a bunch of good cocktails, including a mango lassi made with tequila that’s not too thick and four variations on the classic G&T. These are all enhanced with various spices and herbs, like one version with celery, lime, and coriander, and another with grapefruit and elderflower that tastes like an incredible iced tea on a porch in the summer. Plus, each G&T comes with a genius, filtered-bottom metal straw that keeps you from sucking down the drink’s bits of spices and aromatics.