- Santa Fe Woodstock
When Junoon opened in the Flatiron District in 2010, the New York Times’ food editor Sam Sifton called it “an Indian restaurant remade as a luxe Western palace” serving up an elegant tasting menu in a formal, white-tablecloth setting. A mere 10 months later, the trailblazing restaurant, helmed by Rakesh Bhardwaj and his son Akshay Bhardwaj, had earned a Michelin star, which it held onto for eight years straight. Eater’s Bao Ong claims Junoon “paved the way for these newly minted hit Indian restaurants” that comprise the city’s current “golden era of Indian cuisine.”
After a lockdown hiatus, Junoon reopened in late June 2021 a few doors away from its original location in a smaller space with a more laid-back approach that reflected pandemic lessons learned. There was an a-la-carte menu in addition to the three-course prix fixe and a seven-course tasting menu, plus a market area selling spices, teas, and chocolates.
Junoon’s impromptu, four-day pop-up at Santa Fe’s Woodstock location on Route 28 represents a further foray into the more relaxed side of dining. “[Chef and co-owner] Akshay and his father, Rajesh are interested in exploring if there is interest in our area for their fast casual concept,” says Annie Demosthenes, a partner in the Santa Fe restaurants. Despite the decidedly high-brow nature of Junoon’s food and setting, the Bhardwajs are no strangers to fast casual. The elder Bhardwaj co-founded the first Cafe Spice in Queens and expanded it into a chain of restaurants with packaged meals sold at supermarkets nationwide.
The Junoon x Santa Fe pop-up features a limited three-course prix-fixe menu of greatest hits for $85 a person. Drinks are sold separately and include a carefully crafted wine list and Junoon’s signature, sense-delighting cocktails like the Mumbai margarita with mango purée, rose-chili syrup and cilantro-chili maldon salt, and the East India Gin Tonic with elderflower, orange blossom liqueur and paan leaf.
The pop-up will remain open today, Friday, September 2 and tomorrow, Saturday, for dinner only, from 5pm to 10 pm with reservations required.