Once Upon a Grill
Quick bite: February 2017
by Lee Lawrence
From the February, 2017 issue
This last summer, circumstances conspired to force my husband and me to stop at a McDonald's for more than coffee and a bathroom. While the fries were edible--the fat and salt of fried potatoes are nearly always irresistible--the "Filet-o-Fish," bleached white cotton pillows smothering tiny fried squares of anonymous protein, barely satisfied even our animal hunger.
Poking fun at fast food isn't much harder than breathing, but it's not going to get us a better lunch. Happily, there are plenty of better local choices. If you can take an extra five to ten minutes--and if you appreciate not just flavor, but nutrition, health, and freshness--I suggest visiting Once Upon a Grill on Packard near Platt and ordering one or two kati rolls.
Kati rolls apparently began in the Indian city of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta. Years ago, restaurants selling grilled meat kebabs began sliding the cooked chunks off the skewer onto a flat bread, sprinkling on sliced raw onion, and rolling it up to make a quick, portable meal. In the hands of Furrokh Khan, the friendly owner of Once Upon a Grill, the flaky yet chewy paratha bread offers a nice contrast to the dense grilled meat and crisp onion. I like that original version best, but Khan will also spoon a variety of Indian or Middle Eastern dishes--masala potato, tandoori chicken, hummus, baba ghanoush--into a paratha, which can mean a saucy and messy, if tasty, sandwich. It's easy to eat two kati rolls, particularly when Khan offers two for $6, though one may be sufficient if you pair it with fries (curly!) or a salad or other snack.
Our forays deeper into the menu brought us a deliciously spicy and plentiful vegetable biriyani and a densely packed samosa, along with a cooling mango lassi. We heard other customers, mostly south Asians, exclaim over Khan's butter chicken. But his menu should be read as a wish list of possibilities. Essentially a one-man show, at least for now,
he preps what he can when he has time. Outages are frequent and many.
Hours, too, are variable. Though listed on his menu, they aren't posted on the shabby storefront's door, and he tends to close, unannounced, when he needs a day off. But if the lights are on and you crave a quick, delicious bite, stop in. You'll congratulate yourself for getting off the fast food lane.
Once Upon a Grill
Fri. 4-11 p.m.; Sat.-Thur. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches: $1.50-$6.99, entrees: $10.99-$17.99
[Originally published in February, 2017.]
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