The new eatery, with its menu of Mediterranean, Southeast Asian and Indian-inspired cuisine, joined the mix in March, opening in the space that once housed Japanese restaurant Fuji. Owner Hem Raj Gurung also owns and operates nearby Bombay Olive on South Main Street, which serves Indian, Nepalese and Persian dishes.
Manager Vikram Gurung says Elmwood Kabob's concept is "health-conscious food," featuring a selection of grilled meats, fish and vegetables. Meats are marinated at least 24 hours before grilling, he said, and the restaurant uses olive oil and canola oil in its cooking.
Shish kabobs form the basis of the menu, with options of veggie, chicken, beef and lamb skewers available on an open-faced pita sandwich, in wraps (both $6.50 to $8) or as a dinner plate with salad, pita and rice or fries ($12 to $15.) Kabobs are paired with diner's choice of five housemade dipping sauces: coconut curry, tikka masala, red hot chili, tzatziki or spicy aioli.
Larger plates, with sides and sauce, include grilled marinated salmon, grilled lamb chops; a vegetarian dish with regular and carrot hummus and baba ganoush, served with couscous and grilled pita and a spicy, exotic South Asian beef bihari, a dish of grilled tenderloin that's been marinated in papaya.
The restaurant's various influences are also seen in its array of small plates ($3 to $8) with masala meatballs, sautéed Southeast Asian calamari, coconut shrimp with sweet dipping sauce, grilled chicken wings, hummus and pita chips, fried veggie pakora and even chili-cheese fries.
Soups ($4) – which come as part of each lunch plate – include vegan mixed vegetable, chicken rice and tomato garlic with a touch of cream. There's a classic Greek salad, a couscous salad with lemon and cilantro and two Asian-inspired varieties: cucumber and papaya and a Southeast Asian rice noodle salad with water chestnut and sesame seeds. (Salads are $3 to $5.)
In addition to its healthy fare, Elmwood Kabob is looking to establish itself as a bar destination, particularly as a karaoke hotspot. Aspiring singers are welcomed between 9:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. every Friday night, Gurung said, adding that they're hoping for a larger crowd in the future. Live jazz is also being considered for Saturday evenings.
"We want our customers to enjoy their time here so we have a great bar with great prices," he said.
Cocktails – priced at $7 and $8 – incorporate fresh flavors, like the lime basil martini and cucumber crush, with gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime and fresh cucumber. The Tropical Lassi is a mango smoothie spiked with Ciroc coconut vodka ; there's also a pineapple margarita and an "Elmwood Flirtini" with raspberry vodka, cranberry and sparkling wine. The bar serves three draft beers and several more by the bottle, along with a wide selection of red and white wines.
Happy hour runs daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close, with half-prized appetizers (excludes seafood) and drink specials, including $2 off mixed drinks, $1.50 off draft beers and $2.50 domestic beers and $4 house wines.
>>Elmwood Kabob and Bar, 1144 New Britain Ave. in West Hartford, is open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight. Information: 860-232-1500 and elmwoodknb.com.