Here’s an exercise: Google “516 Main Longmont.” Go ahead. I’ll wait. Perhaps you dedicated readers (I won’t say “fans;” it’s so narcissistic, really) found what I suspected when I entered Flavor of India: I’ve been there before. In fact, this location is a veritable graveyard of Cuisine Scene visits, home as it was to not one but two restaurants formerly reviewed (favorably, as I remember) in this space.
First there was Paulie and Deanna’s, then Garibaldi Mexican Grill. Let’s hope this review doesn’t continue the 516 Curse.
On my most recent visit to this location, the contrasts to the aforementioned previous visits were stark. Where once I saw a framed photo of Frank Sinatra, there now stretches an ornate rug decorated with images of Hindu symbology. Where once there were sombreros, now there are wooden carvings of elephants. It’s as though I’m visiting the same theater for three different shows. Globalization, indeed.
Who knows what makes certain spaces difficult for restaurants? There are plenty in my stomping ground of Boulder—locations that for some reason just can’t support successful dining or drinking. Whatever the reasons, it appears Flavor of India has an uphill battle. Luckily for them, they’ve got more than a fighting chance.
As a new business should, they care intently for their customers. I was given suggestions, had my questions answered and was treated with the utmost politeness. All of my selections arrived promptly and with a smile, and I was never wanting for a thing. Is service an issue? Absolutely not: check.
Atmosphere is not unlike what anyone who had dined previously in an Indian restaurant might expect, yet somehow Flavor manages to live just this side of cliché. I won’t say it necessarily displays elegance either, but the dining room is impeccably clean and tidy, and the subtle South Asian pop music that fills the air is neither obvious nor grating. Ambience? Check, more or less.
The cuisine is more East than West, meaning that Flavor has a decidedly less American palate approach than many of its counterparts.
This is a refreshing strategy. Rather than erring on the side of caution with reference to spiciness, for example, they allow their diners to do so. My medium-to-hot chicken curry ($10.95) was as sultry as I’d hoped, and the sauce was cream-based to a far lesser degree than usual (a fact which brought out the spices even more clearly). The chef’s naan ($3.95), a kind of appetizer Russian roulette whereby you find out the ingredients when it comes to the table, was in my case a combination of cheese, onion and cardamom.
A vegetable biryani ($10.95), meanwhile, which combined carrots, snap peas, beans, and broccoli with basmati rice, nuts, raisins and a once-again refreshingly spicy curry sauce was also a decadent delight. The vegetable somosas ($3.95) with which we started our meal were a crispy, hearty pleasure (especially with the garlic chutney—yum!). Flavors? Check.
We can be quite sure, then, that Flavor of India has potential and certainly does not seemed poised to shoot themselves in the foot. But can they overcome the 516 Curse? We shall see…
Flavor of India
516 Main Street, Longmont
Bottom line: Authentic flavors in a gracious environment.