#293: Tandoori Flame

10:30AM 5/17/2023

For an early lunch on Wednesday I headed over to Tandoori Flame, located near the Starbucks drive thru on Pleasant Grove, in-between Foothills and Washington. This is an Indian restaurant located right next door to ZS Indian Market. Last time I was here was in 2014. At that time it was a little cafe type area within the market. Now it’s walled off, has it’s own front door and is distinctly its own thing. I asked one of the employees if this restaurant was in any way related still to ZS, but he wasn’t sure as he was new here himself.

The space is fairly small, with less than 10 tables. I think they set up a little outdoor patio area between the two buildings, though it was not yet put together when I arrived. Indian music, a few TVs and one piece of artwork make up the dining rooms ambiance.

I had a look over the menu the night before and had picked out a couple things. They don’t seem to have any dedicated lunch selections, like a smaller dish with two or three items, so I went in knowing I’d have leftovers to take home for dinner. Rolling in right when they opened at 10:30AM, I was the only customer throughout my stay. As soon as I walked through the door I was greeted by two workers ready to take my order, one of them handing me a paper menu as I got up to the counter. I had initially looked up expecting to see the menu up on the two TVs on the wall behind the counter, but they were playing video instead. This menu was identical to the one on the website and I quickly found the two items I wanted to try.

I had misunderstood the first item, the Saag Aloo Paneer (The comfort food of Punjab, Slow cooked spinach and green vegetables with ginger and garlic)[$13.99], thinking it was both aloo and paneer, but you actually choose one or the other. Looking closer at this item, there is a comma between them so I’ll give them that ;). I think a combo could be interesting though. Anyway I chose the paneer. For my 2nd item I went with the Lamb Biryani [$15.50], and then I got a Mango Lassi [$3.99] to finish off my order.

Between about five and ten minutes my mango lassi was brought out. It was served in a paper to-go cup with a lid and straw. Opening it up I saw four small ice cubes in it. I gave it a sip and yes, it could have been a little more chilled for my taste but it was fine. The major takeaway I had from this was that it was one of the most tart ones I’ve ever had. There was a bit of sweetness to it, though my focus on the tartness made me blind to it initially. At first it sort of turned me off. I only had about a quarter of it in the restaurant and took it with me, but it grew on me after that and it was finished completely not long after getting home.

About ten minutes after the lassi came my food. This was a slightly nicer presentation than I was expecting after the to-go cup. A plate with silverware and a napkin was brought out, followed by four dishes: (counter-clockwise from bottom of photo) Saag Paneer, basmati rice for the paneer, lamb biryani and a bowl of kheer, which I was not expecting. The saag came in a nice little metal bowl and the rest in ceramic white flatware. I had spaced that my saag would obviously come with rice and realized I was in for a rice-heavy meal. Naps would be sure follow later.

I dug in and made a little plate of the two main items. Both smelled great and were steaming hot. I started with the saag, which had a nice creamy texture and was rich in flavor. This was on the more spicy and bitter side of saag I’ve had before. The creaminess didn’t quite temper those elements here. The cheese was enjoyable – slightly firm bite-sized cubes that were fairly mild in flavor. I liked this dish but maybe not as much as I had hoped.

On to the lamb biryani, this one took me by surprise. This exceeded my expectations by a fair margin. The lamb bits were tasty, despite perhaps being a touch on the dry side. But the overall flavor of this dish has me still thinking about it days later. There was a lot going on here and this dish had a bit of heat to it as well. I ended up finishing off the saag in the restaurant and taking the rest of the biryani home for dinner later. I checked out the kheer with a few spoonfuls, but I’ve never really found one of these I was crazy about. This wasn’t any exception. Just like my first experience with it (back in 2011 for one of my very first posts on this blog at Swagat Indian Bistro), the sour note I picked up in this turned me off of it entirely.

Overall I thought this was pretty decent. Hard to say I would pick it over some of the very excellent other Indian spots in town though. The competition is pretty strong. If they had more lunch-friendly combos/portions, this would be something I could consider more.



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