4 Wall St, Huntington Village
(631) 271-2210 | platesrestaurant.com
Small plates are surging. American diners love the diversity they offer—the opportunity to sample many dishes, not just the two or three in a traditional dinner. Dieters feel they can control their consumption by choosing smaller, low fat portions and the frugal are able to seek out dishes calculated to be easy on their wallets.
So popular is the wave of small plate restaurants that Huntington Village now has not one, but two Asian-skewed small plate establishments. One leans Japanese, the other, just three-months-old, is the South Asian and Indian/Pakistani Plates. Both bill themselves as tapas spots after the traditional Spanish appetizers so common in that nation. So what we have is an Asian, American, Spanish amalgam.
Plates is a sleek, sophisticated spot owned by the Spice Village Grill next door—the Indian restaurant with which it shares a kitchen. It’s a place of white walls, black ceilings, barrel lighting, abstract art and a congenial little mirror-backed bar. And if its good looks promise slightly smoother, better service than it delivers, its staff is pleasant, though far from white glove excellence. Dishes arrive one by one rather than together, dirty plates aren’t promptly removed, wine service is uninformed and so forth.
Among the opening dishes sampled was a subdued, unthreatening Mulligatawny soup with just a hint of the rich meat or vegetable broth highly seasoned with curry and other spices ($7) that usually characterize the brew. Yet, an avocado chaat (think: Indian guacamole) displayed plenty of gusto from its scramble of chaat masala, red onions, tomatoes and sauces ($11). Two meat filled, easy-to-eat dishes are both recommended: qeema naan, thin Indian bread stuffed with finely ground beef, herbs and spices ($8); and that Indian standby, samosa, fried pastries containing savory meat ($6) accompanied by a snappy tamarind sauce.
Paneer karahi with plump Portobello mushrooms atop a mini paratha ($14) is much like a sliced white Indian pizza. Also $14 are three stuffed, broiled and seasoned clams yielding scant clam meat and plenty of filler. Better were six masala grilled shrimp ($18) given a welcome boost by their peppy homemade sauce. Two sizeable crabmeat kabobs marinated in yogurt with a touch of green chutney and housemade seasoning ($14) offered Asian flavor minus the incendiary snap. Two pieces of chicken tikka, boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and served with Monterrey Jack cheese, were tasty and a good buy at ($12).
The modestly priced desserts (each $5) proved to be light afterthoughts. Ras malai is a small, sweet, quickly disintegrating paneer cheese soaked in a lot of clotted cream. Gulab jamun is a pair of dumplings (think donut holes) in cardamom and rosewater syrup.