FOXBORO - Olive & Mint, an Indian and Mediterranean restaurant, is the newest player on the Foxboro culinary scene, occupying a well-known space along Route 1.
Having taken over the former Demetri's Functions at 2 Washington St., the new establishment's owners are offering cuisine from two distinct regions, entertainment and the building's space to draw customers into both its restaurant and events business.
The function hall behind the restaurant is now called Ambrosia Weddings and Events. The name Olive & Mint was selected because olive oil is associated with Mediterranean food while mint is associated with Indian food.
"Those two cuisines ... are getting more popular in this area," said Olive & Mint general manager Sunny Patel.
The restaurant is owned by the Patel family, who were previously the owners of Ambrosia Tavern in North Attleboro, which offered Italian, American and Indian Cuisine. Ambrosia has since been replaced by Jimmy G's Tavern, a New York-style deli/pizza restaurant, although the Patels still own that property. Much of the Ambrosia menu, however, has migrated up to Olive & Mint.
Olive & Mint's executive chef is Dev Chinta, a veteran of the restaurant industry with extensive experience with both cuisines. Chinta learned how to make restaurant-level Indian food in his hometown of Hyderabad while working at the Oberoi Hotel there. Chinta also draws his skills from the source, having gone to school in the South of France, and worked in the Provence region.
He said the food offered on Olive & Mint's menu is distinctly Mediterranean and Indian. "Both sides are authentic as of now," said Sunny Patel.
Menu items include classic favorites such as hummus plates, chicken tika massala and burgers and fries. Other dishes such as Tandoori salmon, kale caesar salad, Lahori chicken, Tika paneer massala, balsamic duck, fig flatbread and Mumbai fish are more distinctive.
The kitchen features both a wood-fired pizza oven and a Tandoori oven, and the restaurant makes its own Provence-style flatbreads and pitas.
Sunny Patel said there would be a greater focus on plate presentation at Olive & Mint than there had been at Ambrosia.
The food on the events side of the business is handled by T. Arnold Alan, Ambrosia's executive banquet chef. Events held since June have included a car show, a gun show, weddings and bar mitzvahs.
Alan is a veteran of the industry, with a background in Jewish, Italian and Greek food. He said the banquet side of the business offers no limits on the food.
"My menu is nothing but a suggestion," he said. "It's all about our clientele. It's anything that anybody wants. It's an open book with me."
Alan has a history in Foxboro, having served as the team chef for the New England Patriots in 1986 and as the final executive chef of the Foxboro raceway. He's also worked as a chef at Fenway Park.
Ambrosia has capacity for about 1,800 people standing and 1,200 to 1,000 people sitting. It features six different halls, each of which has its own bar. However, all six of those halls can be merged together, and the resulting 23,000-plus square feet makes it the biggest banquet hall south of Boston according to the Patels.
"This is going to be the place for all kinds of events - Indian, American, Greek, multicultural," said Ambrosia's Director of Special Events Mario Hache. "Our staff has over 40 years' experience."
Olive & Mint had it soft opening last month, and it will be holding its grand opening Jan. 20. In addition to its lounge, bar and family dining areas, the restaurant, which has a capacity of about 450, has rooms for private gatherings.
The restaurant will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with a bar menu available from 10 to 11 p.m. on the weekends. The bar is open until 1 a.m.