An outsider’s perspective: Indian Flame

As an individual fairly unfamiliar with Indian food, I attended Indian Flame with a group of more experienced companions, prepared for a meal of bold, exotic flavors that would stretch the boundaries of my very Americanized palate. Unfortunately, Indian Flame failed to deliver on nearly all of my lofty expectations with a very mundane and zestless meal. Nonetheless, the meal did offer some pleasant notes and few notable disappointments, and the restaurant is a reasonably cheap destination for anyone in the mood for Indian cuisine.

Located on Euclid Avenue, just a short walk from the Thwing Center, Indian Flame could not be more convenient. No transit or Greenie is necessary for this trip, just a light walk to start the evening off.

The most notable aspect of the Flame’s ambiance is the fabulous aroma. Rich spices fill the air with an intoxicating musk that sets a wonderful stage for the meal. Unfortunately, the incredible smells fill a dingy room with no real semblance of décor. Uncomfortable seats, plain walls, and linoleum tables immediately lower the quality and the class of the experience (more important than one might think if on a date).

To begin our meal, we selected chaat papri, bhel poori, and the Indian Flame salad. Each appetizer was good but not great, representative of a meal with uneventful highs but no notable lows. Both the chaat papri and the bhel poori had excellent textures: crunchy wafers and nuts, soft potatoes, and light fruit. The bhel poori was the high note of the first course as spicy onions and a sweet tamarind-mint chutney sauce accented the fantastic textures. The potatoes, wafers, and chilies of the chaat papri were doused in a yogurt-based sauce, much too heavy for a first course. Unlike the fairly pleasant first two dishes, the Indian Flame salad was Leutner quality (the single lowest rating I can give a salad). Quite simply, the salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and an all but flavorless sauce: extremely disappointing.

Main Course
For the main course, we ordered a trio of lamb curry, butter chicken, and lamb kabob. As was the case with the appetizers, each dish was very middle-of-the-road. The lamb curry was rich, flavorful, and pleasantly heavy. When mixed with the rice, the tomato-based sauce brought out the flavors of the lamb. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal to bring out as the meat was somewhat tough and noticeably not of particularly high quality. The same could be said for the lamb kabab. The meat was flavorful, and its accompanying vegetables were poignant and supportive. Again, however, the meat’s texture left much to be desired. The poor quality of meat was particularly disappointing as both meals cost about $15. Obviously this price tag doesn’t merit filet mignon, but a diner should expect better than tough, mediocre meat.

The butter chicken was of notably better quality, as the meat was rich and moist. Similar to that of the lamb curry, the chicken’s sauce was rich and heavy, and it paired very well with the chicken’s spices. Yet again, however, the high point of the course was very okay and lacked any substantial wow factor.

Special Notes
One particularly positive special feature about Indian Flame was how shockingly filling every dish proved to be. As we got up from the table, my companions and I were struck by a weight of fullness and exhaustion, which to me was quite the pleasant finale. Be careful of overeating, however, because you might just wind up with a stomachache.

Another pleasant plus to the Flame is the versatility of the menu. The menu offers a large array of dishes that cater to the needs of celiacs, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Not to worry, carb-loving carnivores like me, there are also a plethora of carb-heavy, protein-heavy selections.

Dining at Indian Flame was fairly positive and slightly above-average dining experience. Hence, I’ll give it three stars and recommend it as a good spot for friends to enjoy a meal away from the debilitating limitations of meal-plan dining.