The Mad Greek earned a finalist spot on CityVoter's 2011 Best of Fox8 Cleveland list for its Greek cuisine, but that?s only half the story. Executive chef Chris Chopra splits the menu between classic Greek and Indian dishes, whipping up a half-dozen fragrant coconut-and-tomato Indian curries alongside broiled chicken with tomato and feta and seafood simmered in bouillabaisse.
The environs prove as sprawling as the menu, welcoming diners into a dining room reminiscent of a Mediterranean greenhouse with its ample sunlight, potted ferns, and sky-high ceilings. Throughout the space, private enclaves prove ideal for romantic dinners with invisible significant others.
In a dining space with rose-red banquettes and polished hardwood floors, servers at Charkha Exotic Indian Cuisine fold delicate pink linen napkins into blooming flowers. To pair with these subtle decorative accents, the kitchen staff whips up fish-laden curries, rice biryani dishes, and 16 distinct vegetarian dishes, releasing aromas of cumin, garlic, and coriander. These waft past the dining room's rustic wooden beams, and the less-rustic robo-monkeys that swing from them, to tables piled with housemade cheese paneer and yogurt-marinated shrimp tandoori.
Utilizing ancient Persian cooking methods with Indian flair, tandoori cooking prepares your meal to order, ensuring that it is delivered hot and fresh, like a shrink-wrapped DVD of virtual flames. Chef Lal, Chef Ghimire, and Chef Lama have teamed up in a virtual Justice League of cookery, bringing decades of experience straight into your mouth. Stimulate that very mouth’s taste magnet with the exotic flavors found on Cafe Tandoor’s menu. Appetizers include several platters and pakoras, which are battered and delicately seasoned in chickpea flour before being deep-fried. Try the shrimp pakora ($8.50) or the paneer pakora (mild cheese, $6.50). Sop up everything on your plate like a hungry loofa, with tandoori breads such as the garlic naan ($3.50) or aloo paratha (stuffed with spiced potatoes, $3.50). Quell the emptiness within with specialties such as boti kebab (boneless lamb, onions, and bell peppers, $14.50), tandoori salmon (marinated salmon with onions, asparagus, bell peppers, and naan, $19.50), or chicken tikka (boneless pieces marinated in yogurt and spices with onions and bell peppers, $13.50). Also, like most Indian restaurants, there are dozens of vegetarian options; but unlike those other restaurants, those options aren’t multiple-choice trick questions.
The chefs at Saffron Patch skillfully wield 38 different herbs and spices to curate a menu of authentic Indian dishes made to order. Tandoori chicken halves ($11) arrive fresh from piping hot tandoor ovens or backpacks left too long in the sun, presenting delicate flavors to awaiting tongues. Taste buds visit with boneless chunks of succulent chicken sautéed with bell peppers and onions in the chicken tikka masala ($14), or take in the lamb korma's creamy cashew gravy served in a clay pot ($17). Shrimp biryani ($14) smoothly mixes almonds, raisins, veggies, and rice with a specialty house sauce as flaky paratha bread ($3) mops up leftover flavors and tears of joy.
Priya Indian Cuisine's chefs' extensive culinary repertoire, more than 100 items strong, fills the dining room’s teal booths with aromatic portions of chicken, lamb, seafood, and veggies. Many meals are baked in a traditional clay oven, although others are stewed in rich curry sauces or spices and served with fluffy basmati rice freshly shaved from the edge of a cloud. A slew of silver dishes line the buffet with up to 27 northern- and southern-Indian recipes as well as dosa—thin crepes stuffed with spiced potatoes and onions.
Saffron Patch in the Valley makes Indian cuisine accessible to Akronites?but no less complex or authentic. There are a few intensely spicy dishes on the menu, such as chicken vindaloo and lamb madras, but for the most part there's nothing tongue-searing; kids even get their own menu of mild but not dumbed-down options. Curry powder's more or less an afterthought among the 38 herbs and spices in regular use in Saffron Patch's kitchen. In addition to mesquite-fired, tandoori-baked chicken and lamb, you'll find seafood options such as smoked salmon and mahi mahi. Vegetarians can savor classic dishes such as cubes of paneer cheese in creamy spinach, made by in-house culinary cubists, and charbroiled eggplant.
Both Saffron Patch locations are tucked away into unexpected residential blocks. The excitement of stumbling onto a hidden treasure makes the spaces?decked in low-lit tones of brick red, sunset orange, and, naturally, saffron yellow?feel all the warmer.