assortment of indian food in bowls and pans

Restaurant Review: James Beard Finalist Indienne delivers inspired cuisine in River North

assortment of indian food in bowls and pans

A Wednesday quiz: Name the only Michelin-starred restaurant serving Indian cuisine Chicago

Answer: River North’s  Indienne,  where Chef Sujan Sarkarwas announced last week as a finalist as Best Chef: Great Lakes, in the 2024 James Beard Foundation Award competition. 

Sarkar has worked with other South Asian touchstones, including Rooh and a new West Loop coffee shop, Swadesi Cafe. As noted by Tock, Chef Sarkar, who grew up in Kolkata, honed his culinary skills in London’s  Michelin-starred kitchens, and is devoted to “defining, and redefining, the limitless potential of Indian cuisine”

He certainly has at Indienne, where Chef Sarkar’s six-course seasonal Tasting Menus are divided into Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian, and Pescitarian. Their $115-$125 price tag may seem steep, but quality and course-wise, you’d pay that and more for an experience like this!

Take, for example, their Vegetarian menu, which starts off with MUSHROOM (GALOUTI) an eclair, with goat cheese, and truffle DAHI (BHALLA) with lentil donut, tamarind, mint, and raspberry, AVOCADO (KABAB) pairs green pea, toasted Ponkh (millet), and Tonburi (black seeds).JACKFRUIT (HALEEM) has potato mousse, caramelised onion, and taftan. BUTTERNUT (MANTI) has the squash with parmesan yakhani, and winter truffle. The meal concludes with delicious treats, including peanut fudge, mango cream tarts, and sesame chikki. 

Their Pescatarian Tasting Menu includes several of the vegetarian examples, as well as SCALLOP (BALCHAO) with cauliflower, golden Kaluga, and Finger Limes. CRAB (BISI BELE BATH) with arborio rice, Dosa crumble, and puffed quinoa. SEA BASS (MOILEE) has courgette and Lemon Air, black dairy dal, and is served with garlic naan. CHOCOLATE (PHIRNI)includes an Apple Halwa Cake, Nolen Our Ice Cream, and Cryo. 

Google reviews were ecstatic:

“We celebrated our son’s birthday at Indienne and it was a such a wonderful experience!! We had the vegetarian prefix menu and my nephew had non-vegetarian. The food was delicious and each dish was unique and presented beautifully. The service was impeccable. It is a one Michelin star restaurant and I definitely recommend trying it! Enjoy!”

“Highly deserving of the Michelin star. Such a gem of a place in Chicago with a BOLD tasting menu. My friend and I both tried the Vegetarian menu. Incredibly inventive flavors paired with a great cocktail and wine menu. The ambiance is charmingly minimalist and the service is second to none. Definitely not the average “fine dining” restaurant.”

Defining and redefining tastes indeed!

NOTES: The restaurant asks to be apprised of  of all allergies and dietary restrictions at least 48 hours in advance. “While we do our best to welcome all dietary needs, some regretfully cannot be accommodated,” they say on their website. Additionally, they “kindly require any children attending to be at least 9 years of age.”

Indienne is located at 217 W. Huron Street. They are open Monday -Saturday, 5pm-10pm, and are closed on Sunday. For reservations and information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago