Wicker Parkians, trek no longer to Devon to quell those Indian food cravings. At Cumin, you can expect great food. They serve what is billed as delicious Nepalese food, but in consistency, spice and flavor, it is much closer to Punjabi cooking. The butters and creams are liberally present in the curries and the flavors highlight the savory rather than the spicy kick Nepalese cooking is known to have. Still, mellow and flavorful food hits the spot, especially when all of the meats are high quality, avoiding the need to fight gristle and fat. The light and flaky naan breads are cooked in a legitimate tandoori oven with garlic and cilantro speckling the surface providing that extra deliciousness.
The décor attempts to be very upscale. Draped in sensual low lighting, this restaurant was some- one’s dream establishment; evidenced by the accented lights, white tablecloths (with a layer of butcher paper to protect from curry spills) and the classiest cocktail bar this side of the Rocky Mountains. The wine selection is decent, the alcohol is mid-range with a few surprising gems in the whiskey family, and everything made with lassi, a sweetened yogurt drink, was fantastic.
But there was trouble in paradise. For whatever reason, Cumin has stopped replacing their crockery and cutlery, resulting in scratched, chipped and stained plates that spoiled an otherwise excellent eating experience. The staff had also apparently seen some rough use, as they failed to live up to the image the restaurant tried to convey, responding to questions and requests for plates without crusted food bits attached with in- difference or gruffness. The wait- staff was quick to explain that the plates being stacked had led to the grimy, ground-in dirt appearance of the plates, but failed to address the cruddy bits left on the plate, in- stead choosing to pick up the plates, walk away for a moment and return with the same plates in hand, as if having retrieved new plates.
The manager came by and tried to explain that the filthy plates were the result of stacking, abruptly fleeing the table before the food crust could be addressed. Our table was then abandoned for the rest of the meal, until it was time to present the check. A quick scrub with hand sanitizer and napkins solved most of the problems after the staff failed to address them, but it was still off- putting.
Suddenly the low lighting of the restaurant makes more sense; what is lost from the vivid color presentation of the food is gained by the light being too dim to properly see the sanitation state of the dishes. The food is phenomenal, but the sanitation problems of the in-house service pieces are disconcerting. Half of the fun factor of going out to eat is the presentation of pretty food and not having to wash your own dishes. Luckily, Cumin does both point where it would stick to your finger if it were poked. After the dough is mixed, butter a large mixing bowl and put the dough in the buttered bowl to rise.
Check on the dough until it is soft and your finger will leave an indentation when lightly pressed against the dough. If it is not ripe, the dough will slowly spring back. Once the dough has risen flour your tabletop and roll out the takeout and delivery, so go forth and enjoy their food in the comfort and clean dishes of your own home.