Singh for Your Supper

A resilient restaurateur brings Northern India back to Northeast Ohio.

The Core

After a series of setbacks that would have sunk a lesser restaurateur, Kuldeep Singh has surfaced again, with a new Northern Indian restaurant in Brook Park. It's been a bumpy ride: Three years ago, the owner of the former, most excellent Clay Oven gave up his original location in Fairview Park to a city renewal project along Lorain Road. But by the end of 2000, Singh had reopened in beautifully renovated space on Chevrolet Boulevard in Parma -- only to learn a few weeks later that his liquor license had been issued in violation of city zoning ordinances.

Despite Singh's best efforts, business never warmed up at the dry Oven, and he finally packed it in late last year. But here's hoping that the third time's a charm: Singh opened his newest restaurant, the Indian Café, on March 10, inside the Budget Inn at 14043 Brookpark Road (216-676-9550). Lunch and dinner is served daily. And yes, the liquor license seems to be in order.

Abandoned dogs: They're still dishing the dogs at Hot Dog Stan (4100 Superior Avenue), but the fried Twinkies are off the menu: Susan Porter, Queen of the Deep Fryer, split with partner Stan Marszal last month, taking her hot, battered Twinkies and Oreos with her. For now, those with a jones for the sweet, golden confections can score them at Mitzi Jerman's, a venerable watering hole at 3840 St. Clair, where Porter prepares hot dogs and her fried delicacies each Tuesday through Friday evening, beginning at five. Meanwhile, Porter is looking for a nearby spot to launch her own little eatery later this year, with a menu of home-cooked and deep-fried favorites.

Steeped with the fishes . . . What's 15 feet long, weighs more than 400 pounds, and lives in the Amazon? No, not Marlon Brando; it's the giant pirarucu, the world's largest freshwater fish, and a special, short-term addition to the menu at Sergio's in University Circle (1903 Ford Drive; 216-231-1234). On a recent visit, chef-owner Sergio Abramof was serving pan-seared filets of the mild, cod-like fish with cèpe mushrooms and asparagus. Diners with a yen for the unusual also can hook some tambaqui, another popular, extra-large Brazilian fish currently featured on Abramof's menu. The chef's sassy presentation -- three long, meaty tambaqui ribs, delicately sweet, indulgently rich, and served with scallion rice, tropical fruit salsa, and sweet-hot mango-chili sauce -- is like a tropical getaway for the taste buds. The two exotic species (formerly but no longer endangered) should be on the menu through May.

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