I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
No, you’re memory isn’t failing. I’ve reviewed Spicy Greens** before. It hadn’t been promoted to Stage 2, so why did I return for a second sampling? To start, the food was good to begin with; I only took issue with its decor and service. But the main reason is that it changed locations. Instead of across from another restaurant, next to a bowling alley and far enough from my normal commute to be effectively in another town, Spicy Greens has relocated to be practically an obstacle, off the highway in College Heights. With three Indian restaurants within a two minute drive downtown, moving one could be considered shrewd, and to my side of the city no less. A temporary banner hung over the depressing corpse of Cazba, the previous restaurant which occupied this space. I half-expected something similar to Shiraz, walking around in the skin of a recent kill like Hector wearing Harvey Keitel’s head in Saturn3*.
This was not the case, however. The decor of the new Spicy Greens shares nothing with the old Cazba, maybe two chairs tops. In fact, they were still building the restaurant when I walked in. Where Cazba was long and thin, Spicy Greens is wide (and really wide). It must be twice the size of Cazba, easily twice the size of their previous location. That’s confident. The decor improved to. Expensive looking faux-tile vinyl flooring stretched corner to corner. I had to feel around the edges to verify it wasn’t real tile. The walls were painted. Art hung from the walls and they even invested the extra effort to put them in frames. I’m not being sarcastic; this was a legitimate improvement over the previous location.
I tried to figure out if it was built to resemble a fast food establishment or a restaurant. Locations like McDonalds feature huge counters where customers order from a communal menu offering nothing but lies. Spicy Greens may not have a hanging menu, but they do have the counter, over 25 feet of it, right next to the plastic cups and the pop fountain. One might say it even clashes with the expensive look of the rest of the place. All the tables were brand new with matching cushions chairs, plucked right from the front page of a Jysk catalogue. And yet the tables were each topped with a plastic napkin dispenser like you’d find in a family restaurant. The menu was on plastic, not fired out of a Roland 800 24-pin dot matrix printer. The offerings had descriptions. The prices were reasonable. But there were no hamburgers or cod loins; what the hell is going on? Is it a family restaurant or not?
The waiter was nowhere to be seen for a good minute after I entered, so I found my own seat. I was about to assume some things never change, but since I heard construction in the next room, I let this one go. When finally attended, I ordered the vegetable samosas and the (recommended) butter chicken. Their speciality are the dosas (Indian crepes), but I enjoyed those last time. The samosas were incredible, baked and piping hot with homemade chutney. The pastry was enough to write home about. The butter chicken was served properly, with the chicken sauce in its own bowl and a separate plate with rice, roti, and papadum. The papadum wasn’t bought from Superstore; I could tell. The same could be said about the roti. I dipped each into the butter chicken, which was (I’ll declare right now) the best your likely ever to have. I ordered the medium spice which I understand now is my limit. The chicken was moist and tender.
It’s moments like this I wish I could avoid tipping the waiter and tip the chef. Why can’t we? I mean it’s a group effort; they’re both working, and I’d make an argument that in many cases, the chef works harder. My water reached dangerously low levels before being refilled. But it was refilled, so the service improved. The waiter smiled, acknowledged my existence; that is something to praise. I had one friend comment that he adored the original decor of Spicy Greens. He loved the fact that its walls were bland and empty, that the tables and chairs were lifted from an elementary school, and that the staff treated you like you were from Pakistan. He added that to change it would be to spoil its character. I disagree and believe that a restaurant needs to succeed in all fields. I don’t care how delicious the food is, I’ll still avoid a restaurant that makes me think I’d need a tetanus shot if I jostled in my chair.
Spicy Greens has addressed most old my concerns, and did one better by changing to a location receptive of repeated service. In truth, I know the big counter is for take-out, which should do well in this part of town. I hope the gamble pays off. Spicy Greens always had good food and I’m overjoyed to declare that it’s only gotten better. Add to that aggressive pricing and a serviceable though ethnically vague decor, and you have one of the best values you could search for, easily my preferred location for all cuisine Indian from here on. Don’t get me wrong, all the Indian restaurants in town are good, but one’s pricing is a little steep, another’s is borderline criminal, and the last, though once celebrated as the best Indian food in town, has suffered in quality recently. I could be calling the new Spicy Greens the best Indian food in Prince George. Now all you need to do is share this…because I don’t want people walking next door to McDonalds. That’s right, McDonalds is next door, and for shame those that pass through those arches. Some of the best cuisine you are likely to have is ten feet over. Take a chance.
*I previously used a Lecter comparison, so I had to reach into the nethers of my pop culture references…and out popped Saturn 3.
** I still don’t know if it’s Spicy Green or Spicy Greens as it changes depending on where you check.