Sunday, June 10, 2012

Get Your (Kati) Roll on at Eastern Flame

While enroute to Mark's Carts for a quick pre-trivia bite to eat, Mrs. T & I called and audible and dove into Eastern Flame on Ashley, right next to Fleetwood Diner. I had always been curious about this place, I had no idea what cuisine it was other than something that was probably vaguely middle-eastern, but was always thrown off by the giant Coke poster with a burger and fries on it. Nevertheless, we thought we'd give it a shot. We were glad we did.

The menu at Eastern Flame is ambitious - everything from bacon & cheese burgers, middle eastern classics like falafel and grape leaves, and finally popular Indian things like chicken tikka and a variety of curries. I was confused, so I did what I always do when I don't know what to get at these hole in the wall spots - ask the guy at the counter. He told me that the proprietor of the place is actually Pakistani and steered me towards the kati roll with lamb seekh.

The kati roll is a wrap made with a paratha, which I can only describe as a mashup of naan and a fresh made flour tortilla, slightly crispy on the outside and just a little bit doughy. The lamb seekh was a kebab made with ground lamb, lots of herbs (cilantro & parsley?), and just a little hit of spice. Some grilled onions and a little sauce round on the kati roll. After talking to the guy at the counter, it turns out that the parathas are made onsite, I'm a sucker for anywhere that does it's own baking work. That's streetfood I can get down with. Open 'til 4am Thurs-Sunday, it's also a great night option when you're too far from Mr. Spots and the line at the Fleetwood (located next door) is too long. 

I do have to mention that it doesn't look like Eastern Flame has a strong following yet, I've walked past many times and never seen it very crowded. I think this could be a bit of a lack of identity issue. It's hard to figure out what Eastern Flame is - they have three distinct cuisines on the menu and they have street food type of stuff along with full entrees. Although I haven't had much of the menu, I can guess that your best bet is to stick to the Indian food and leave the middle eastern food to Zamaan Cafe. Mrs. T scoffed at my suggestion that they should go full on Indian/Pakistani and dump the middle eastern and burgers from the menu - she said that did not work out so well Jerry recommended the same to Babu Bhatt. Whether or not they heed my advice, I will be back for another kati roll.

304 S Ashley
Ann Arbor, MI


  1. I had the same hesitation as you, Tony. I am always worried when a place tries to do too much with their menu. Typically it just means that all the food will be mediocre. I went to Eastern Flame about 3 or 4 years ago. I was drunk, so I don't remember much either way. I will give it a fair shot again after your endorsement.

    1. Yup, that was what I figured about the non-Indian stuff on the menu, but in fairness, I haven't tried it. The trick with a lot of these hole in the wall spots is to find what they do best and stick with that. You'll have to report back if you end up going again.