Chef-owner Bobby Chhikara has reprised Indian restaurant Diwan, which ran...

Chef-owner Bobby Chhikara has reprised Indian restaurant Diwan, which ran successfully at the same spot from 1989 to 2000 on the first floor of this Port Washington locale. Upstairs, however, customers can savor entirely different cuisine in Port Grill. The casual American eatery boasts an equally laid-back menu and an outdoor deck overlooking Manhasset Bay. Credit: Photo by Charles Eckert

Chef-owner Bobby Chhikara knows a thing or two about Indian cooking. An appetizer of spicy barbecue ribs has piquancy and tenderness. Hot garlic shrimp with a fire-charged white-wine butter sauce proves a hit, too.

I'd return in a heartbeat for the white-hot chicken vindaloo, the lush, mild saag paneer (spinach with house-made cheese) and the succulent Kerala prawn curry. I'm also taken with the chicken biryani, rice and chicken knowingly spiced, complex in flavor. Plus the breads - garlic naan, onion kulcha - are irresistible. Fine, too, are the pistachio-sprinkled kheer (rice pudding) and gulab jaman (fried cheese balls in honey-rose water syrup).

But while the creamy coral- hued mulligatawny has lovely flavor, it arrives scalding hot with a thin film over the top, leading me to suspect it's been nuked. Mysore lamb chops, requested medium-rare, are thin and overcooked to gray. And I'm not impressed with the "mangotango salad," a generic mesclun mix with pieces of mango and rather dry tandoori chicken. What the crew especially needs to learn is timing: Appetizers should come before, not after, the main course.

Bottom line

You'll find very good spicy barbecue ribs, hot garlic shrimp and white-hot chicken vindaloo at this Port Washington restaurant.

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