Some roads have good restaurant karma, and the stretch of Hillside Avenue that runs from Williston Park to New Hyde Park is particularly rich in dining options (e.g., Fresco Creperie, Hildebrandt’s, Miraj, Sripraphai, Piccolo Gourmet and Madras Woodlands). So, I always keep my eyes peeled when I find myself driving down Hillside, and Tuesday night I came upon a promising new spot: Southern Spice Chettinad Indian Cuisine, which opened a few weeks ago in what used to be Fianona.
Chettinad is a region in the very south of India, and it is apparently renowned for its cuisine. My meal last night was excellent. I started with vegetable samosas, filled with spiced potatoes and peas, expertly fried and then, a lovely touch, garnished with seasoned salt. The restaurant’s owner suggested I try the Chettinadu chicken curry, which turned out to be chunks of thigh meat in a rich, dark gravy. Sounds boring, no? But this gravy sang with individual notes of goodness knows how many spices — cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, mustard seed among them (I think). The dish was pretty spicy, not only with chili peppers, but also with a lot of black pepper, which lent the whole works a pleasantly numbing effect. Garlic naan was perfect.
At other tables (most of which were occupied by South Asian customers) I saw beautiful dosas and biryanis. I'll be going back.
Southern Spice Chettinad Indian Cuisine is at 1635 Hillside Ave., New Hyde Park, 516-216-5448.
Samosas at Southern Spice