The Scoop: The first word that comes to mind when you step into Pranna is "striking." It's strik...The Scoop: The first word that comes to mind when you step into Pranna is "striking." It's striking in scale (15,000 square feet with soaring ceilings) and striking in design; the dining room laces elegance with sex appeal, creating one of Madison Avenue's most dramatically lovely spots for a meal. And oh, man, what a meal you'll have: Pranna's menu focuses on traditional Southeast Asian dishes (Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian) presented with modern flair. For a hint at what that means, just ponder the Seared King Scallops with Coconut Milk, Apple, Eggplant, and Green Curry, or the Lamb Tenderloin with Lychee, in all of its flavorful, fun-even-to-look-at glory. Then quit with all the pondering and grab yourself a fork.
In Sanskrit, Pranna means "breath of life," which is precisely what you'll feel as you walk around the restaurant's massive, luxurious rooms. Opened in October of 2008, Pranna was planned from the outset to house a variety of concepts; the restaurant's amazing expanse stretches across three floors, with multiple bar, lounge, and party areas, all of which culminate in the beautiful, warmly modern dining room. There's a romance inherent to both the space and the food you'll eat inside of it; as I wandered through the tables for the first time, I was struck by howforgive me this word, it's accuratesumptuous the entire experience is. The menu is an intriguingly curated array of dishes and flavors from Thailand, Cambodia, India, and other corners of Southeast Asia, but it never overreaches into cloying fusion territory. My favorite approach is to hit the small plates list and just keep ordering: the Tapioca-Crusted Fried Chicken Wings ("Thai Street Style") or the Siam Prawn Cakes with Fried Shallots and Tamarind Basil Aioli are big enough to share but might make you wish you didn't have to. They all make excellent partners to any of Pranna's hand-pounded curry dishes (pay special attention to anything that includes pumpkin. I'm just saying.)
The exotic flavors show up in the cocktail list, as well, and though there's an impressive wine list, do you really want to pass up concoctions like Thai Kwon Gin (rosemary, egg whites, lemongrass, Thai lavender tea) and the Dragon Fly (Calamansi honey, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chile-infused vodka)? Of course not. Just make sure you pace them out over the course of a meal; one too many Spiked Rabbits (sage, fresh carrot juice, tequila) and you may end up actually getting lost on your way to the bathroom. It's been known to happen.
Fried Chicken Wings “Thai Street Style”, $8
Moo Shu Duck Breast, $11
Steamed Lobster & Pork Dumplings, $14
Vietnamese Caramel Baked Cod, $24
Monday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
TuesdayThursday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.
FridaySaturday, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.