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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Restaurant of the Weekend: Flavors of India

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2008 at 7:40 AM

There’ll be plenty of time this holiday weekend for burgers, ribs, and icy brews. For a well-deserved break from the BBQ, try Flavors of India (26703 Brookpark Rd. Extension, in N. Olmsted), our pick for one of the region’s best Indian restaurants. Hard to find, but worth the effort, this tidy dining room opened in mid-January in a small strip plaza near Great Northern Mall, inside space formerly occupied by Kashmir Palace. ... Along with their well-seasoned kitchen staff, first-time restaurateurs Amy and Jay Patel offer a friendly ambiance and a fairly standard menu of northern Indian fare, enlivened by a page of less-usual Bombay-style beach snacks. Among the savory morsels, for instance, find bite-sized pani puri (hollow balls of crisply fried dough, filled with spicy potatoes and lentils, and served with tangy mint water), and the even more fabulous chole puri, a succulent stew of chick peas, ginger, chiles, coriander, and garam masala, served with two tender “loaves” of fresh-from-the-deep-fryer flatbread. Rich aromas, subtly balanced seasonings, and the sneaky bite of slowly building heat are among the hallmarks of better Indian restaurants, and Flavors of India serves them up in spades. For instance, their version of vegetarian navrattan korma – a sweet and savory blend of mixed veggies, nuts, and raisins, in a silken cream sauce – was one of the most adroitly seasoned ones we’ve found. And while a companion claimed the former Kashmir Palace used to turn out a superior version of chicken makhani (tender, boneless breast meat in a buttery tomato “gravy”), that scarcely seemed to slow her flying fork. On the side, spice-studded rice followed the Indian precept that claims the grains should be like two brothers: Close, but not stuck on each other. Among desserts, find the usual kheer (rice pudding), gulab jamun (fried cake balls, in rosewater syrup), and a well-done version of homemade kulfi, the distinctively Indian take on ice cream, made with condensed and evaporated milks. A small beer list includes the usual Kingfisher and Flying Horse; or BYOB if you’re partial to wine. (An off-dry Riesling would be a good bet.) Dinner hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; and at lunch, a well-appointed buffet runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday ($7.95) and noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday ($9.95). The restaurant shuts down between lunch and dinner to allow adequate prep time for the labor-intensive fare. Just mark it down as another sign of quality. – Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.
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