Eating Week #5: Flame

It’s traditional to barbecue on the 4th of July, and it’s a tradition I try to respect.  However, tradition can only take you so far.  This year I found out that tradition can be trumped by 95 degree temperatures, especially when it’s accompanied by steamy humidity levels.  We’d thought to do a barbecue with Mike and family, but the weather convinced us that it was time to explore a new dining experience – one with air conditioning.  Unfortunately, of our five choices, three of them were closed, and one was a repeat.  By default we went to Flame, a restaurant in the new wing of Rosedale Mall.

I was quite surprised when Mike informed us that it wasn’t a chain restaurant.  It has that slight look of design-by-committee that most of the successful ones have.  The interior was done up in smooth wood tones, and was quite a bit bigger on the inside than I would have guessed from the exterior.  We were seated quickly, and started perusing the menu.  As we were in no rush to go back outside, we ordered in waves – a round of drinks started us off.  Kira went with the Limoncello Tini, while Catherine tried the Mango Tango Tini, and  Mike stuck with beer.  I’m a fan of ginger, so I tried the 2 Ginger, which was a rougher ginger ale.  It had quite a bit of real ginger taste, although not particularly hot.  I followed it up with a Dark & Stormy – ginger ale and dark rum – to keep the ginger theme going.

We still hadn’t figured out what we wanted for the main course, but we had decided upon some appetizers.  The onion rings were nicely done – not spectacular, but with the right level of crunchiness to the batter, and onions that were cooked until soft but not mushy.  The Firecracker Chicken was perhaps the most interesting dish I tried at Flame.  They’d blended their rotisserie chicken with some buffalo sauce and bleu cheese until it made a creamy spread.  This was wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep-fried.  The buffalo sauce gave it a pleasantly-hot kick, and there was a nice contrast between the crispy shell and the creamy interior.

For the main course, I settled on the Wild Rice Stuffed Chicken Breast.  The rice stuffing was mixed with cheese, and the pounded chicken breast folded around the stuffing.  It was cooked perfectly – fully cooked, but very moist and tender.  It was served with garlic mashed potatoes.  They weren’t particularly garlicky, but the potatoes themselves were a mix of mashed and unmashed potatoes, which gave the side dish an interesting texture.  Catherine had the BBQ Rotisserie Pork sandwich.  It was nicely presented, and the quick bite I stole was very tasty.  It was topped with onion strings, which a few of us eyed covetously.  Alia surprised me (she’s usually not very adventurous in restaurants) and ordered the Citrus Salmon with Jasmine Rice (a favorite of hers).  While she asked for the pineapple citrus salsa on the side (which meant that Catherine was going to eat it), she kept the teriyaki sauce.  The fish was perhaps slightly over-cooked, but had good flavor.  Mike went with a rotisserie half-chicken, cajun-style, and it came with potatoes and veggies – it was a huge quantity of food!  Kira had a BALT sandwich, and Max and Sarah had a hamburger and quesadilla.

All in all, I’d say that Flame manages a very delicate balancing act – the food is just far enough removed from the common menu items to be distinctive, while not so distinctive as to be unique.  The quality was excellent, and the servings were all large enough to satisfy everyone.  If the prices were a few dollars cheaper per item, I’d be likely to go there more frequently.  As it is, I’m sure that we’ll return, but the dining-out budget won’t allow us frequent visits.

After the dinner, Mike suggested an appropriate movie – Independence Day.  We watched it at Mike’s: his movie-watching setup has one major advantage over mine – it’s in the basement, while mine’s on the second floor and thus about 25 degrees hotter.  Screen size is definitely trumped by a comfortable viewing temperature!  After the movie, we finished off the evening with vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet.

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