By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A new restaurant called Blue Caravan opens this weekend on Columbus Avenue, promising to serve a diverse menu in a casual but upscale setting.
The eatery will open Saturday at 467 Columbus Ave., between West 82nd and 83rd streets. The space was most recently home to Nucci's, a short-lived Italian eatery, and before that the Asian noodle house Canteen 82, which closed in November 2010, according to neighborhood blog My Upper West.
Executive Chef Max Kennedy, 28, says Blue Caravan will serve "global cuisine."
"It could get lumped into the fusion category, but it's not fusion, it's an eclectic mix of different cuisines," Kennedy said.
Kennedy, who said he's worked at Nobu and The Modern Pantry in London, will draw on a range of culinary influences, including Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, French, Southeast Asian and Latin American.
With communal tables in the front and a lounge area near the bar, Kennedy said he wants Blue Caravan to have a social, festive atmosphere. An atrium at the back of the restaurant will be used for special events, including flamenco dancing demonstrations, Kennedy said.
He highlighted two standouts on Blue Caravan's menu: a classic version of gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic), and a crispy calamari that's tossed in a reduction of sweet soy, chili paste and calamansi, an Asian citrus fruit. Both are $10.
Other small plate dishes include a $10 truffled mixed mushroom bruschetta, and a $12 duck confit salad with green papaya, mango, watercress, candied almond and den miso vinaigrette.
Large plate entrees include a $20 pan seared magret (duck breast) with lentils, sugar snap peas, flowering chive, and cherry port glaze; a $15 chicken and apple sausage with curried roast parsnip mash, green beans, and apple tamarind compote; and an $18 roast monkfish with sauteed Brussels sprouts and lily bulb, and parsely coulis.