In honor of this week's feature story on Cleveland foodies' all-time favorite flavors, we bring you the recollections of our ever-ravenous staff. In this installment: Kyle Swenson ...
Shaking down Cleveland for the Best Grub Ever undoubtedly produces answers about meals and dishes that are quintessentially Cleveland. No brainer, you say. I’m talking about corned beef, pierogies, and burgers layered with additional goodness — the kind of stuff that if found after the End Times pave over the world as we know it could re-construct the cultures that filled up the local melting pot. But I’m going to put the concept on its head and rule out any food with a Eastern Bloc origin or dishes cooked up by a chef with a reality TV footprint. None of that quintessential Cleveland grub here. Okay, game on.
I’ve always had a pretty hard jones for Indian food. When I moved back home two years ago, many an off hour was spent Googling “Cleveland Indian Food,” combing through reviews, and looking through back issues of Best Ofs for the crown jewel of local Indian cuisine. After some local options, disappointing through and through, I hit my mainline.
Indian Flame is in a pretty nondescript storefront on Euclid Avenue on the edge of University Circle, right before those high-end condos make a gallant last stand at the East Cleveland line. The restaurant shares a wall with the Euclid Tavern, for my money another Cleveland best, probably the best hipster bar completely lacking in hipsters, which I have a feeling might have changed by the end of this sentence. Anyway, quiet neighborhood — you get the drift.
The food is amazing. Yeah, I’m not one of these guys who can expatiate the finer points of the peninsula's cuisine, but I know enough to recognize quality. The paneer sings, the baingan bartha truly is bangin’, the naan is so hot and fresh it melts. For my money, i suggest the lunch buffet for newbies, if only because you can pile a plate high and dive in, carefree about the price tag.
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