India grill
2924 E Burnside, 236-1790

I'm a very hot person. Hot, like in temperature, hot. I like the windows open in February, a fact that is endlessly annoying to my goosebump-prone coworkers. Sleeping with me is like cuddling with a big metal radiator on full blast. And for some reason, I like to enhance the situation by eating spicy food in the summer, frying in the stickiness.

That's why the India Grill is my summer-time dream atmosphere. In the upstairs living/dining room of an old Victorian on Burnside, the India Grill has small tables in a big, all-windows sunroom. The light comes in from all angles, and you kind of feel like you're about to fall off the side of the house because of the precarious architecture--which makes it more fun, of course. Going around sundown is perfect, because you can start with the sizzling appetizers, watch the sky turn colors, and feel the temperature drop by the time you get to dessert.

Unfortunately, the food doesn't reach the all-time spiciness requirements that I expect, but it's pretty damn good regardless. Most of the dishes are up to the minimal standards for Americanized, greasy Indian-food goodness with a balanced seasoning of dry Garam Masala, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. The distinctions end there, as the dishes tend to blend together into a sweetly rich taste that is cut beautifully by plates full of delicately steamed, sticky rice.

Since everything is good and greasy, I generally like to stick with the classics. Dishes like the Matar Paneer, for example--cubes of dense cheese and peas, cooked slowly in a yogurt gravy with ground spinach.

I also highly recommend the Murgh Pakora: marinated chunks of chicken breast fried to a spicy, delicate crisp. It's like any other fried chicken (kind of dry, but still sweet and tender), except airier, and with a distinct flavor of sharp, black pepper corns that cut through the crispy batter. Beer is also essential to the heat-lover's meal, and the Grill serves both Taj Mahal and some Northwest classics like Black Butte, which may be inauthentic, but inconsequentially so. Regardless, the India Grill is nevertheless a great place for the elite to beat (or, in my case, meet) the heat.