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Michelin-Starred Chef Opens Athithi Indian Restaurant in Wilton

Kristin L. Wolfe

Feb 12, 2023

This new gem opened in the fall and is led by the first Indian Chef to receive a Michelin Star (now two) Chef Hemant Mathur.

Drooling even before the crispy Papadum and Chutneys arrived, I knew we’d want help with the menu. Of course, there are numerous recognizable dishes many of us had like your Tikka Masalas, Samosas, Dal, and Naan, but wanting to dive into as much of an array as possible, we were thankful the staff was like mini Ph.D.s with their extensive knowledge of each dish. After our lesson, we were ready to fill the table with the notorious colors and aromas connected with Indian cuisine. We started with the highly recommended Beetroot Cutlet, which is a less-than-pretty name for a wonderful full mouth of flavor; it was bold and bright, especially once hit with a drop of the Tamarind Aioli. We moved on to another appetizer of Shakarkandi Chaat made with a charcoal-smoked Japanese sweet potato and Tamarind Chutney. It is hard to comprehend, but this plate hit every sensory element possible. In addition to the Samosa Tasting plate — which was made with the lightest, flakiest batter I’ve ever had — the Lasooni Kebab (chicken thighs with cilantro, garlic, chili, and pineapple chutney) had everyone at the table swooning over the combination of flavors; it was a true “circus in the mouth” to beckon our inner Kramer from Seinfeld.

We moved on to Upma, a rice flour porridge, served with sweet and sour eggplant, which was bright and light; then a Pistachio Chicken that may not have looked very pretty with its green hue, but was smooth and more subtle than I expected. For old-time sake, I had to get the Sag Paneer, which to me, is a must; like having bread with butter, I have to have Naan with Sag. Somehow we found a way to fit in bites of two more recommended items: the Tandoori Tiger Shrimp, made with yogurt, Garam Masala and ginger garlic served with a lemon chutney; and the piece de resistance, the dish that had us all baffled in the best way — the Tandoori Lamb Chops served with mustard potatoes and pineapple chutney. First of all, the presentation and the char on the chops were certainly noteworthy, but the flavor and texture really threw me for a loop. I am one of those diners who usually does not order the lamb since it seems every time I do, it is very gamey and tough. Everyone at the table was blown away at how tender they were.

The restaurant uses the phrase Athithi Devo Bhava which roughly translates to “The Guest is God.” That is quite a powerful statement, and yet, after an experience there, one might better understand the emphasis placed on impeccable service and a beautiful display of passion and cultural pride. The restaurant enlisted the talents of designer Soudi Amini out of Stamford; they asked for a warm, inviting space that captures Athithi’s vision, and Amin’s design team certainly delivered. When I asked the team about the overall reception since they opened in the fall, they really beam with pride. “From the food and decor to flavors and textures, we’ve had an excellent response. We’re so happy we have been able to maintain a high level of consistency and in just three months, already had many repeat customers.” 

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