Eatery offers American fare with an Indian twist

December 31, 2009 (CHICAGO) "I always felt that there was a need for restaurant in this neighborhood, and a casual small eatery that I would like to go to. We are not an Indian restaurant. We are a contemporary American restaurant with an Indian bent to it," said Tamiz Haiderali, chef/owner of Treat.

Samosas are a typical Indian starter, but here, the filling of potatoes and peas is stellar, and the accompanying tamarind and mint chutneys are vibrant and fresh. Crab cakes take an ethnic spin too: instead of a traditional garnish, these tiny cakes rest on a bed of peas and tomatoes that have been infused with an Indian-spiced cream. The lamb burger - as good as it is - is sandwiched between one bun that's shmeared with cilantro chutney; the other with herbed aioli. Even chicken tikka masala - an Anglicized version of an Indian dish - veers away from the typical presentation on Devon Avenue. But Haiderali succeeds the most when he fuses something as familiar as pan-roasted salmon, next to homemade Indian components, such as saag paneer - a spinach and cheese combo.

"We serve it with saag paneer. It's a deconstructed version of saag paneer and we serve it with a dhokla which is a West Indian lentil bread, Haiderali said.

It's not all Indian, of course. There's a turkey panini as good as any Italian joint, made even more special with the addition of a crunchy, apple cider-infused coleslaw. Even desserts make a nod to the former British empire. "Spotted dick" is really just a spiced-and-soaked cake with creme anglaise. Haiderali says the fact that he's staying BYOB allows him to focus on other aspects of the restaurant.

"It also allows us to put more focus on our food and our service, and our environment and atmosphere rather than having liquor," said Haiderali.

Now if you plan to BYOB here at Treat, realize a lot of the dishes have that Indian seasoning, whether it's a garam masala mixture or a curry powder; but also realize you have to drink it with the coleslaw which is remarkable, either paired with this lamb burger, or inside the turkey panini, you have to get the coleslaw.

Treat also serves a highly-underrated Sunday brunch. As for the BYOB policy, there is no corkage charge, so you can really save some money if you bring your own bottle.

1616 N. Kedzie

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