Visual Cliffnotes for this entry below:
Some parties have heard me say: “I like me a good buff–ette, I does, umm hum” – in my best Slingblade voice. That statement is somewhat correct but with a big ass disclaimer. The typical buffet sends shivers down my spine. I recall trips to a remote region of West Virginia where the highlight for my father would be a value meal at one of two restaurants in town, both of which were buffet based. Knowing that my only other option was to wipe out my emergency supplies of beef jerky or hitchhike fifty or more miles to the nearest other eatery, I acquiesced and accepted my choices from among eighty pre-made, microwaved selections.
There is a place for buffets in this world, but in my world, the only time is don’t wince is when I am gorging myself on an ethnic buffet. The buffet minimizes the likelihood that my lack of knowledge of another culture will cause me to select the one bad option on a menu. I am not enough of a risk taker to blow my one roll of the ordering dice. I want to try everything, so I can get a broad understanding of the cuisine in question and pretend my massive consumption is fueled by a desire to expand my horizons, not my waistline. That is what I tell myself and others. I can sell it, even when I come back with my third plate of choices piled beyond a reasonable height for transporting.
In all seriousness, if the cuisine is Ethiopian, Somali or Indian – I hope for a buffet. I don’t know enough about these cuisines to order well and when I do find something I like I can either not recall what it was or how to pronounce it. For any other buffet, with the possible exception of the Lost Planet Pizza and Pasta buffet of a decade ago or the annual high-end Chinese holiday buffet, I will always say no to the buffet card. If it is Indian, I will always say yes.
I really enjoy the offerings of Banana Leaf and Udipi Cafe….but since one of my life missions is to incite others to boldly go where their palettes have not gone before, the missing link in my informal tours of culinary discovery has been a meat eaters tour of India. I can lure the wary to a vegetarian restaurant or an Indian restaurant….but trying both is pushing the line too far.
I recently encountered an individual that had never had an Indian buffet experience….ever, and it had been too long for me. As it turned out, my to dine list included Cumin which highlighted buffet options that were meat-centric.
However, there was a snag, we would both have to fight through some hangups to get there. I would have to journey to the greater Polaris area. My partner in dine, would have to engage in ethnic buffeting.
Ok. Time to take a pause. First, let me apologize to you, the reader. The quickbyte series is generally that – a short paragraph about something – usually one thing – worth eating. But the wind up on this one has been long and windy. Let’s now get to the meat of the matter.
Cumin offers an Indian buffet or a la carte experience that is safe for the neophyte. The surroundings are new, spotlessly clean, upscale…. bordering on elegant. There is no language barrier or cultural awkwardness. These folks have acclimated to the Midwest and deliver their cuisine in a culturally sensitive manner – large portions, lots of good visuals and fluent American English. Minus the aroma of cumin and curry, one might think they were in a Cameron Mitchell concept restaurant. The service is impeccable. The staff monitor each table like hawks, waiting and watching for the hint of a possibility that a diner might need anything. You could easily envision a slow motion scurry with a server launching themselves through the air at the exact moment your beverage hits 84% capacity. My partner in dine and I were asked no few than five times if we needed more naan.
Not to knock my other Indian buffet choices, but they typically lack decor, decorum and might not be the places that exude optimal dining for someone who is already pushing their comfort zone.
My thoughts on Cumin. The food was great. I would travel back to the Polaris area during non peak times to dine there again. This would be my suggested place for a first Indian experience (with training wheels) without sacrificing flavor.
1025 Polaris Parkway
Monday to Friday
11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday
11:30 am to 3:00 pm