Prasad Chirnomula of Five Star Restaurant Group, known for his Thali and Oaxaca Kitchen restaurants in New Haven and Fairfield County, is branching out into Greater Hartford.
The chef/owner announced Thursday that he has signed a lease in West Hartford's Blue Back Square, with plans to open a new Thali restaurant at 54 Memorial Road later this year.
Thali will take over the space currently occupied by Moe's Southwest Grill, he said, next door to where Tyler Anderson of Millwright's and Jamie McDonald of Bear's Smokehouse will be opening their collaboration restaurant, Cook and the Bear. Richard Rochlin, attorney for Anderson and McDonald, confirmed that Cook and the Bear would occupy a portion of the Moe's space.
"We're excited to welcome Thali to our fabulous mix of dining options here at Blue Back Square," said marketing director Elizabeth Zigmont, who also said she was not able to comment on the status of Moe's at this time.
Chirnomula has considered the Hartford area for a potential restaurant site for a while, especially as fans of his eateries have asked him to expand north. Blue Back Square seemed like a favorable fit for his brand, he said, and he's excited to move into the development. "You've got [the] theater, Crate and Barrel, a lot of shopping, good wine bars, you've got good restaurants in the area, decent parking."
Like his Thali restaurants in New Haven and Ridgefield, Chirnomula will present a fine-dining take on traditional Indian cuisine. The West Hartford Thali will feature about two dozen small plates, "pleasing a lot of palates," he said, priced at about $7 to $18. He plans to make connections with local farms to bring in fresh, seasonal produce.
He also aims to keep larger, classic dishes like chicken tikka masala and lamb vindaloo on the menu, along with charcoal-grilled meats and several breads. A bar will serve beer, select wines and craft cocktails.
"The whole approach is, it should be fun," he said. "Even though it's kind of a fine cuisine, the approach should be very casual." He said he wants to keep the restaurant smaller and intimate, with about 70 seats, but he's still early in the design process.
Chirnomula anticipates Thali will open sometime this fall. It will be his second 2016 opening; his newest restaurant, India, debuts April 4 in New Canaan with a traditional Indian menu supplemented with Western-influenced small plates.
In New Haven, he also owns and operates Thali Too, with a vegetarian menu, and Oaxaca Kitchen, with cuisine inspired by his travels in southwestern Mexico. Information: thali.com.