By Connor Beach
Spice Village Grill, on the corner of Main and Wall streets in Huntington Village, has been serving a taste of India to local diners since December 2009. Then almost three years ago, its sister restaurant, Plates, opened next door, offering a modern and contemporary take on tapas and the world of South Asian cuisine.
Plates, which opened in January 2015, serves Indian and South Asian style small plates with a full service bar and the ambiance of a chic Manhattan eatery.
Manager of both Plates and Spice, Omar Ali, said both are family run; his brother Farooq Ali is behind the bar, and his father Tabassum Ali is the executive chef.
Omar Ali was raised in South Huntington, while his father’s roots are distinctly South Asian.
“It’s my father’s passion, my business techniques, and my brother’s drinks,” Ali said. “We all have some sort of interesting way of trying to bring somebody in, and it has worked very well for us at Spice Village Grill for the good portion of eight years.”
The small plates menu and cocktail choices are perfect for a casual night out or a quick stop for food before taking in the nightlife of Huntington.
“Plates offers a modern and contemporary take on those traditional Indian flavors,” Ali added.
To start, the Bali Calamari ($14) features chickpea battered calamari that is served with a mango chutney glaze. The sweet and tangy flavor of the mango glaze is a perfect compliment for the fried crunch of the calamari. The tasty chickpea batter is an innovative alternative to traditional flour-based batter that has the added benefit of making the dish an option for gluten-free customers.
For those looking to enjoy Indian spices with a vegetarian twist, the Stuffed Vegetable Mushrooms ($12) are stuffed with potato and cauliflower and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The cauliflower is the star of this dish, providing just the right texture and mildness to connect the earthy tones of the mushroom with the South Asian spices.
The presentation of the signature Plates Shish ($14) transports any hungry diner’s mind to South Asia, and the flavors don’t disappoint. The shish kebab contains cubed chicken, bell peppers, onion, and a uniquely Indian paneer cheese that picks up the flavors of both the grilled vegetables and the spices. The almond-based sauce offers a sweet and refreshing contrast for the South Asian spices.
Traditional Indian flavors, preparation and spices shine through most in the Plates Satay ($10), a well-seasoned and well-marinated union of boneless chicken, cumin and cayenne that is marinated with a yogurt sauce and topped with melted cheddar cheese. The garlic chutney sauce brings out the curry flavors of the dish, and is yet another of the sauces that pair perfectly with the tapas concept.
Lastly, a second gluten-free option on Plates menu is the Bombay Fritters ($12), which utilizes chickpeas to make the batter that gives the fish or chicken a golden brown crust. The batter itself is very well seasoned, and gives the fritters a nice, but not overpowering, level of spice with or without the mint and green chili chutney.
The spiciness of the dishes on the menu is a great compliment to the taste of the proteins and vegetables, not so overpowering as to overshadow the unique flavors.
Ali added, “Spice Village Grill has been our base for a while, and I think those customers that come over to Plates to see what we have to offer and share will see interesting and new ideas.”
In addition to the regular menu, Ali said Plates provides customers with the opportunity to book graduation, birthday, and holiday parties, as well as other private events of up to 55 people.
4 Wall Street, Huntington
Cuisine: South Asian Tapas
Price: Small Plates: $6-$14; Large Plates: $18-$26
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 5pm-10pm; Fri: 5pm-11pm; Sat: 5pm-11pm; Sun: 5pm-10pm