Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Early Thoughts On Flavors Of India In Columbia
Flavors of India opened in Columbia earlier this month. It's still a work-in-progress according to the comments on a prior post, but it's serving up good food in Aida Bistro's original spot off Columbia Gateway Drive.
This is still a new restaurant so I expect it to change as folks work out the kinks. But we drove to Columbia Gateway during the first week and certainly enjoyed ourselves.
Bottom line: It's good food. It's a nice, casual atmosphere. I'm not sure that it'll pull me away from Mango Grove, but that's just because Indian is one of the deepest cuisines in Howard County.
We ate off the vegetarian part of the menu. Flavors of India is setting itself apart by serving up an enormous variety -- northern Indian tandoori chicken, southern Indian dosas, Indo-Chinese items like fried rice and chicken or cauliflower manchurian. That's a smart way to stand out among many good Indian spots, but we stayed vegetarian to get a contrast with House of India in Columbia, one of our favorites and owed by the same people.
Papdi chat was an interesting appetizer. Crisps mixed with potato, chickpeas and a spicy sauce. Not that spicy, actually. It was a friendly crowd with a bartender watching over us and a manager showing photos of his family to other tables.
We ordered a dosa. A week later, I don't remember which one. That can't be the strongest recommendation, but I scooped up the dosa, which had the contrast between crispe crepe and warm filing that makes me love these south Indian dishes. Flavors was a little more oily than Mango Grove, a little less spicy. Between our dosa, a curry and a naan, we left satisfied, although not convinced that the bread or the flavors lived up to the best Indian around.
Overall, the comments on earlier posts echo my impression. Folks talk up the spinach pakora, the sambar and chutneys. But there were some complaints about blandness and some observation about "new restaurant" issues like service. (Check out here and here.) As I have said before, HowChow is a hobby. I don't trash people who are trying to serve good food, so please keep the rhetoric to useful and away from hyperbolic.
I'll go back to Flavors of India because the menu goes beyond the standards. Recently, I have been trying to find new dishes beyond my take-out comfort zone of a chicken dish, baigan bartha, and a basic lentils. Flavors has a dish of green chilis simmered in tamaring, peanut and coconut. One of the commentators highlighted the "chttinadu" style dish that I have never heard about before.
For more, check out Rishoo on Yelp, who works across the street and talks up the ala carte menu, but not the buffet.
Flavors of India
7185 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046
NEAR: This is south of Rte 175 just west of I-95. Columbia Gateway is called "Col Gateway" on the Rte 175 signs, and you drop down to the road and then follow a fork sign into a shopping center on the west side of the road. You can't see anything from the main road.