Step into Pranna for the first time and you may wonder whether you’re in a clubby cocktail lounge or a Southeast Asian restaurant. It’s hard to tell: Most of the sleek venue’s generous square footage is devoted to bar areas where patrons linger over small plates and exotic mixed drinks. Beat-heavy music permeates the space; unfortunately, it also floods the back dining room, so that eating a full meal there means enduring thudding bass with every bite.
The food—from co-chefs Chai Trivedi and Gavin Portsmouth—isn’t good enough for that. A tasting of satays was one of the better options, featuring grilled skewers of massive, bacon-wrapped prawns, garam masala--marinated swordfish cubes, slightly bland lamb meatballs and nicely crisped hunks of fatty pork belly.
Entres were less enticing. Flat-tasting steamed halibut in warm lobster broth came topped with a conflicting cold crawfish salad. Roasted duck breast was another disjointed dish: The poultry was sliced and layered on lemongrass-and-cumin-accented rice, accompanied by a bowl of vegetable curry and a non sequitur shot of cloyingly sweet passion-fruit lassi—the various elements failed to jell. While a cocoa-nib souffl made better use of the shot-glass concept (this time it was filled with a fragrant cream of cardamom and Frangelico), the house sundae—recommended by a manager via a goofy “I see a sundae in your future” line—was a poor excuse for the classic dessert; blobs of tamarind sauce and poached mango sat below (rather than atop) the four scoops, a bizarre inversion that made it difficult to mix the various components. We would have been happier to skip it, and escape the head-splitting racket a little sooner.—TONY
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