Food Review: Pranna Restaurant & Lounge

Pranna - 79 Madison Avenue, NYC

79 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

So I’m not exactly sure how to approach reviewing food from a lounge/restaurant/bar/winery/night club, but I will give it a shot anyway.

Located in that area that meanders between Flat Iron District and Gramercy, Pranna certainly brings in a very diverse clientele, especially on a Saturday night when the clubgoers embark upon Pranna. Come here on a weekday, however, and you are sure to see a much different array of customers with bankers, lawyers and business men and women of all sorts stopping in for lunch or a post work meal.

As for the décor, you would be hard pressed to find a more eye-appealing restaurant. With architectural design that might even make Fallingwater look bland, Pranna’s maze-looking interior is the epitome of sexy, sleek designs you’re used to seeing in contemporary New York City nightclubs. The dining area is relatively small, but quaint and spacious enough for fairly large groups. And the upstairs lounge can take you away from the hustle and bustle of the downstairs bar and dancing areas, and is a great place for an afterwork cocktail or a late night gathering.

While the décor makes for a great late night spot, the menu is more befitting of a weekday lunch than an evening entrée. Because the menu is not the most grandiose of menus ever created, and the service is less than stellar after 6 or 7 o’clock on a weekend, this place just doesn’t lend itself to those looking for their weekly culinary experience.

That said, I cannot complain about the food. I went with a group of friends for a birthday party and overall got mixed reviews. The poor service would probably prevent most of them from returning, but the food wasn’t all bad. The food at Pranna is classified by as Pan-Asian & Pacific Rim, Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian. Now, I’m not cultural expert, but the menu really doesn’t consists of more than a few foods that fit any of those individual descriptions. Thus, the best way to classify this food is a fusion mix of Pan-Asian, Indonesian and I would even throw American in there. With their Bacon-wrapped Prawns, Short Ribs and Honey Chicken Wings, American tastes are definitely present.

The menu is said to have derived from chef Chai Trivedi’s motorcycle trip across the South of Asia, which is how he came to put San Luam Fried Chicken and Pan Seared Cod on the menu. I had the Grilled Sirloin with Mussaman Curry and Fried Potatoes, and I could have been happier. The Sirloin was a moderate sized portion, cooked to my liking (well done), and was very flavorful for a non-steakhouse environment. However, it was the taste of the Sirloin combined with that of the Mussaman Curry that blew my tastebuds out of the water. I found myself washing my Sirloin in every bit of Curry I had across my plate. When I ran out of Curry, I actually was quite sad, because I had a few extra pieces of steak left.

As for my compadres, as I said, there were mixed reviews. The Honey Chicken Wings got great reviews; however, at $7 for about 4 wings, it really wasn’t all that fulfilling.

The Braised Lamb Shank in Cocunot Sambal was also well-received by one of my friends, although you have to order a side with it if you want more than just “shank.”

The Choo-Chee Vegetable Curry, however, was ordered by a few people and did not receive flattering comments from my friends. It was described as too bland and lacking the proper consistency. They also said it was incredibly spicy, so let the mild-tongued beware.

Other dishes people liked included the Tandoori Grilled Lamb Chops and the Paneer and Potato Croquettes.

The Malaysian Goat Curry was off, the Crispy Black Pepper Chicken was overly seasoned and you’re better off going to a soul food spot for the BBQ Chicken platter.

All and all, this is a nice place to meet with friends, have a drink or two or even dance the night away, but when it comes to actual food and food service, that is not what Pranna’s does best. So don’t try to impress any of your out-of-town friends by taking them here, and certainly don’t come here hoping to have your best meal of the week.

Atmosphere: Low-Rise
Prices: Low-Rise
Services: Low-Rise
Menu: Low-Rise
Food: Mid-Rise

Overall: Low-Rise

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