Winter Park " New Indian restaurant ‘star’ of Cooper Creek
February 19, 2009
When guests step into unit 224 at Cooper Creek Square, the smell of curry greets them.
Gracefully milling about the businesses’ almost 4,000 square feet is co-owner Ike Cheema, in constant communication with his staff. Through the assistance of technology involving an earpiece and walkie-talkie-like device, he can tell the host a table came in, the chef how many is in the party, and the waiter delivers complimentary “bread” service shortly after they are seated.
The welcome basket of papadoms and two sauces is an important one, Cheema explained. Many people have the misconception that Indian food is hot, and the sauces give guests an idea of what the restaurant means by “mild and medium.” Entree orders can then be adjusted to a hotter heat level.
Cheema and co-owner Car Gill, aka “Mr. Gill,” want everything to be just so, which is why they opened the Star of India after a bit of a delay for finishing touches. The restaurant put out its first lunch buffet Feb. 9.
Both Cheema and Gill, as well as chef Parmi Kandola, are familiar with the styles and flavors of their offerings. Gill and his family (which includes Cheema and Kandola) operate seven restaurants on the Front Range.
Cheema, who was born and raised in India, said it was the people who really attracted he and Gill to the Fraser Valley. “It’s friendly no matter where you go,” Cheema said.
Kandola grew up in Nottingham, England, and said Indian Food is No. 1 in the United Kingdom. He has worked in kitchens for more than 30 years, learning the ins and outs of Indian and continental cuisine. He said he likes learning different things when it comes to taste. “If I do it, I do it right,” he said.
“It’s really exciting to have a whole new flavor come to town,” said Ron Jones, managing partner at Cooper Creek Square. Marie Hedrick, CCS marketing director and loyal customer at Star of India, said the business enhances the good variety of international cuisine there.
The extensive menu takes care to explain how things are prepared, and their star ingredients. If there’s an authentic Indian dish not on it, Kandola said “most likely I can make it for them too.” Children-style customizing is also available.
The list includes signatures of Indian cooking: chickpeas, lentils, saffron, cilantro, cardamom, tamarind, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, yogurt, mango, almonds, raisins, cashews, coconut, homemade cheese, chai tea, and lamb.
There’s also chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes, desserts, and almost a dozen breads ” “everything from scratch,” Kandola adds. An all-you-can-eat lunch buffet allows a large variety of things to try off the menu for $8.95.
Bar service includes four Indian wines, half a dozen Indian beers (as well as the norm), and also provides Indian-style martinis and cosmos, even a non-alcoholic mango cooler. Take-out and catering services are available (three private rooms off the main dining area offer room for up to 30 people each).