I took a walk down most of 9th aven last evening and discovered that a least 5 new restaurants have opened. Almost all have under gone great renovations causing Hell's Kitchen to look better than ever.
I tried one of the new spots--a place called ORCHID, 675 9th Ave bet 46 and 47 St, 212 582 9742. If you are looking for homestyle caribbean and soul food, this place hits the spot. While there are two other caribbean restaurants in the area--they are awful. ORCHID is very casual and the owner, Anesha, and Indian from Trinidad, explained that she opened the place just last week. Anesha does the Caribbean cooking and I think her husband handles the soul food. I went with the Caribbean food during my first visit. I had the Stew Chicken with vegetable rice garnished with green split pea sauce, which tasted delicious ($8). My dinner mate had the Curry Chicken Roti (Anesha calls them wraps so that Anglos will understand the dish), which was very very tasty ($7). This was washed down with a homemade sweet lemonade which reminded me of the "local drinks" in the Caribbean. ORCHID's roti compares to the excellent roti found in Queens. Overall, I really liked the food and the vibe of the place--very homespun feeling. Don't expect fancy food or fancy service. ORCHID is good down home food for a very fair price in a neat and clean, basic establishment (the place used to be a Japanese Restaurant, shows in the the lighting fixtures).
I felt like I was having dinner at my cousin's house as the owner was so friendly and forthcoming about her new business and all her challenges in her first week. The food is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I encouage fellow Chowhounders to try it and report back.