Southern Spice – Calgary, AB


Southern Spice
102, 4655, 54th Avenue NE
(Corner of 54 Ave and Castleridge Blvd)
Calgary, AB  T3J 3Z4
Open 7 days a weekSouthern Spice on Urbanspoon

September 2008 re-visit post here

Original post below:

When Anapurna shut their doors for renovations, Dosa lovers all around Calgary lamented the fact that there was a distinct lack of South Indian food available in Calgary. Vegetarians especially, lamented the loss of a tasty option. While places like MySore Palace offered some South Indian dishes, “nobody did it like Anapurna”. Once Anapurna re-opened to tepid reviews and outright disappointment,  South Indian became a cuisine of the past in Calgary.  Something that would likely fade slowly from the public consciousness.

One afternoon, I found myself in the nether regions of the NE – searching for a bakery i’d heard about that baked fresh Kabuli Naan – an Afghani specialty. While the NE areas of Castleridge and Falconridge are renown for their Indian food, there are a variety of gastronomical treats and treasures among its many warehouses and strip-malls. From streets that wind in a nonsensical manner, to a street-naming convention that fails to follow Calgary’s grid system, most “non-locals” have difficulty navigating the streets. In fact, even with a possible address and some sparse directions, i still found myself turned around and lost.

Signage - Southern Spice Weaving in and out of neighbourhoods, I happened across a warehouse complex that, theoretically, should have been the location of my bakery. However, what was there, instead, was a small portable sign stating “Southern Spice – under new management”. A restaurant focusing on South Indian Cuisine.  Hungry, and lamenting the loss of something resembling a good dosa, i decided to give it a try.

The space itself is clean and tidy. At 1:30pm on a Tuesday, it was empty, with the exception of one server, and a table occupied by a couple quietly talking over a hyderabaad biryani. The finishings were simple – this would not be confused with the Taj Mahal stylings of Nirvana just down the street, but in most places, clean is already luxury enough.

I was given a menu to peruse. At first glance, it seemed like an extensive menu – primarily Chettinad Cuisine, but there were some Andhra-based dishes as well. I guess this is what they meant by “multi-cuisine” in the restaurant title. Prices were like a timewarp; pre-inflationary Calgary prices that made me giddy like a school girl. Dosas from $5.95 to $8.95, Thali from $10.95 – $12.95, and lassi for $2.95. If the quality was good, they had a convert.  Service was patient, friendly and cooly efficient – a refreshing change.

I ordered a simple Madras Masala Dosa ($6.95) and an order of Appalam ($1.95). 2 minutes later, piping hot appalam came out, with a slick coating of grease, fresh from the fryer. They were crispy, and fragrant, and i was starving, so they were gone in 60 seconds. For the price, they were good. Madras Masala Dosa

5 minutes after that, a humongous, crisp, fresh dosa was brought out. Served with Sambar and assorted Chutney’s, the platter took up half the table. I immediately tore into dosa, at first biting into crisp, fresh “crepe” – made of lentils and rice flour. Next, i happened upon the well-seasoned filling: potato curry, and madras masala. It was warm, well spiced, and tasted great. Combined with a great Sambar, and two chutneys (one tomato, one coconut, the tomato one rocks) this was a truly satisfying experience. The flavours were authentic – the food served piping hot – and the value indisputable. I would even go so far as to say this is better than Anapurna was before they closed for renovations. This is a classically good South Indian Restaurant.

In a day and age where complaints regarding food, service, and quality are commonplace, Southern Spice stands out for me as a bastion of excellent ethnic food. They provide honest food with authentic flavours, and do so at a price that begs you to run, not walk, to the maze that is Castleridge to try them out.

Update:

I have since been back to Southern Spice several times. Some relevant pieces of information that may be of interest to you: Wednesdays is Madras Masala Dosa day – $5. They are not busy at lunch, but i’ve been informed they are busy in the evenings. They have a buffet on weekends. Their Idly are very good – soft, tender, with a great tang. The chicken dosa was average (what was i thinking!?), their lamb dishes was excellently spiced, tender, and well prepared. Food has always been delivered quickly, efficiently. There has been no drop off in quality in subsequent visits. This is worth your time.

Southern Spice on Urbanspoon

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32 thoughts on “Southern Spice – Calgary, AB

  1. Hello,
    I have read your review and your blog on chowhound.ca about our restaurant and just wanted to thank you!!

  2. Christina,

    Actually, it should be us who thank you – please keep up the good work. Your restaurant embodies what we look for here at foodosophy.

    If there are any updates we should be aware of, please feel free to post them here.

    The Foodosophy Team

  3. Hello,
    There are actually a few updates. We recently introdcued new menus (in-house and take- out), business cards, brand new leather seating and introduced a lunch buffet from 11:30- 2:00pm on Monday, Tuesday , Thursday and Friday for $8.95. Further our website should be up and running soon. We will also be hosting a vine and dine event Sept 6th and Sept 20th. We will be Vine and Dine’s first restaurant they have done in the NE and there third Indian restaurant. We are excited and will continue to maintain if not improve our restaurant and appreciate your feedback.

    Warmest Regards,
    Christina

  4. Pingback: Foodosophy Restaurant Update - September 2008 « Eat.Sleep..Dream…Food

  5. Hi,
    I apologize for the bad service you received. Like many Calgary restaurants we are affected by the labour shortage. Unfortunately, we had a new waitor working that Friday who was unable to keep up with the demand. Please advise next time you are in and I hope to provide you with a better experience.

    Thanks,
    Christina

  6. We were sorely disappointed when we went for lunch buffet at SS. The buffet they advertise is or 8.95 and while I do not expect a huge spread like Namskar I would expect something. They had very few dishes and the ones there were quite empty. The one lone meat dish was nothing but chicken bones. I kept asking the waitress if they were bringing anything and she said she has already notified the kitchen several times. The one thing that was good was the dosa. One came included with buffet. They really shouldn’t even have a buffet if they have nothing to serve. It was the first time we went to a buffet and left hungry.

  7. Sleepy,

    Sorry to hear that. I’ve never tried the buffet before, but that definitely sounds fairly poor. The mgmt from Southern Spice seems to track the comments here, so let’s hope she see’s your feedback and responds. I agree that if they don’t have the food, or the wherewithal to keep it stocked, they shouldn’t bother with the buffet.

    Glad that the dosa’s are still good though. That’s definitely my goto dish there.

  8. Hello

    I like the test and food. However one bed thing is that they will not tell you about the service charge if you have five more than five person. They will add into bill 15% service charges without telling you. As good customer service you shouldn’t charging service without informing the customer. You let them inform they are going to charge the service charge. We all friend decided to come and one has taken to pay the bills one collect the money from other doesn’t mean that they have to pay 15 % more just to sit in Group or one has decided to pay. I was totally upset on that day you have just charge me withouth asking 15% service charge. Which ends me up to pay $15 more without any reason. I totally disagree with they style and customer service you have.

    Sorry to say but improve and put some sign/notice in front of the door. So that people will know and if they want to sit to geather they can sit togeather. I think you wants to cheet the people. Thats the reason you are not showing/putting any sign on front door.

  9. I’ve recently gone to Southern Spice to test the dosa’s myself and might i say i was very impressed. I am also from South india, and the food was incredible, a real taste of South india. I came with some friends a few more than 5, and found notes on the table and in the cheque book that there was a minimal gratuity charge of 15%. Due to a great restaurant, great food and great service, i did not mind the manditory gratuity.

  10. Laxmi

    Glad you had a good experience. Seems like they are having some consistency issues, as other readers have had some issues there. Hopefully they get ironed out soon – before their reputation takes a hit. Their food has always been good – and that means a lot to me!

  11. $3 Lassi???!!!! great Dosas ? I’m on that like ugly on an ape. Why have I not seen this place? I must be losing my touch. Are the Lassi sweet or authentic?

  12. RR – my recollection is that they can be ordered either way, but i had them sweet.

    As for why you havent seen it – it’s in the middle of nowhere :)

  13. RR – in a recent visit, i asked – they have a variety of lassi – sweet, salty, mango, and some other version i can’t remember.

    And the Dosas were better than ever :)

  14. I have had the buffet and dossa both numerous times and must say its all amazing.

    I agree Southern Spice buffet does have very few items on it and does cater more to vegetarian’s with few meat selections, but the spices and tastes abound there! (and of course the buffet comes with one of their amazing dossa!

    If you are used to the other East Indian buffet’s in this area, or are looking for an american style “stuff yourself til it hurts” buffet that is full of tasteless food that is fattening and bad for you you will be disappointed with the limited selection at SS. but if you are looking for culinary delights that are a treat for the taste buds, buffet or no buffet, you can find it there!

  15. Seriously… some of those comments look a bit shilly… We love indian food and really wanted to love SS after the positive reviews we read. That particular visit really did shock us with the empty pans. We understand quality and there’s a difference between limited selection and empty or missing pans. And really what we want to see is good attentive friendly adn efficient customer service… whether or not the waiters are attractive or butt ugly.

    Slandering “other East Indian Buffet’s in this area” as ” full of tasteless food that is fattening et al…” is … equally unappetizing. There’s a lot of great Indian places here in NE calgary and south Edmonton.

    Course it’s been a while so we’ll see.

    • I agree that some of them look shilly – but as a policy, if they pass the basic litmus test, I can’t really assume they are shilling.

      But to reiterate, Foodosophy really welcomes your honest, straight forward feedback. We find it invaluable to provide a balanced view. Thank you for your comments.

  16. I’m considering a trip to Calgary shortly after Christmas.

    Where are the best South Indian places to eat? I don’t just mean a token dosa, I mean the hardcore stuff with Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, etc names.

    • Hey Jason,

      Southern Spice has a very small selection of Tamil food on the menu, as the chef is Sri Lankan. Raj Palace, downtown, has a mix of “Southern Indian” dishes, but no discernible cuisine of origin. It’s definitely not Telugu/Andhra, or Malayalam. Anpurna, is actually Gujarathi. Sorry – but those are the only ones i have any knowledge of. Hopefully one of our readers will have more information for you.

  17. Thank you foodosopher, I appreciate the tips. I had figured that Anpurna and Southern Spice would be the best tickets.

    I’m kind of surprised that Calgary does not have a Saravana Bhavan outlet. Surely the community is large enough to justify it.

    • I’ve only seen the one in Vancouver – are there others in Canada. Maybe the community is large enough, but there just aren’t enough vegetarians. It’s definitely not as common in Calgary as the coast.

  18. I suppose all the southies get to Canada and say “screw the Prairies, too cold.”

    Still I think it could fly, but maybe that’s my pet dream of running a south indian restaurant talking.

    • Lol. Or before immigrating to Alberta, you have to pass a “beef” test :)
      I actually believe it could fly too. Location would be critical – but if the food were good, it would be very very busy. The Coup is a great example of that.

  19. I have never been to the Coup, but I agree with both your points. South indian food is a) amazing and b) really under-represented. 99% of indian restaurants usually serve the northern style stuff. And there is a lot of non-veg south indian stuff out there too.

    I was in Edmonton a while ago and had some great south style thalis at a place called Masalaz. Sambar, rasam, papadam, rice, extremely tasty curries, pickle, and chutneys, all for like 9 bucks or so. It was ridiculously good and totally unique.

    • Agreed – South Indian food is amazing. Im actually coming to prefer it more North Indian food.

      Never been to Masalaz, but i’ll definitely try it the next time im in Edmonton. Thanks for the tip.

  20. I visited Southern Spice and Raj Palace this time. I didn’t go to Anpurna, not sure why though.

    Southern Spice: I think I kind of visited at “off” times; I wasn’t super impressed. The dosas were very tasty and very well done. The rest of the thali was lacking, although it did have a really interesting side dish that the waiter claimed was “puli korma” or tamarind curry, but which I can’t find any information about. I returned for the buffet a couple days later, which was OK but rather uninspired. They had a southern chicken curry that was quite tasty, despite it just containing plain chicken wings as the meat.

    I also went to Raj Palace and very much enjoyed their buffet. There were several unique southern style vegetables and a lot of good things on the buffet, including cauliflower 65, which I had read about but never tried. I really enjoyed my meal here and would go regularly if I lived in town. The cook that was stocking the buffet was super friendly and answered all my questions. The server was not very effusive but the food and the cook/chef’s attitude totally sold me on this place. The server said that the chefs were from Chennai, which fits with the tamil style food on the buffet, besides the token butter chicken.

    Overall I enjoyed the Raj Palace buffet the best. Southern Spice had an exciting menu but it didn’t really seem like it was made with love and pride the day we ordered from the menu.

  21. I went to Southern Spicy with my two children and my husband on 26 Nov 2010, there was just one waiter there was no welccome as soon as we enter, my husband initiated the conversation. The waiter was very slow and looked grumpy. When we order the order the food my husband asked about some extra side dish and the waiter’s reply was ‘order what’s in the menu’ with very rude manner. Still we order, but I got frustrated, eventually we had to leave the restaurant with out eating becuase of the waiter’s attitude. My husband got really mad and yelled at him becuase my children were very hungry but the waiter’s response was ‘get out the place’. I was so suprised and shocked people in hospitality indusrtry forgetting about hospitality. This wasn’t first time with southern spicy, once before we were eating and we were the last customer the sam waiter turned off all the lights except for the small light, like giving us signal to go after we ordered the food. There were some good waitress and good waiters but unfortunately people like this ruined our family evening. The hospitality people should understand customers going to the restuarant not only for food also for smiling faces and good hospitality, this south indian waiter missing every thing he is there for money only.

    Frustrated customer.

  22. Pingback: Review of Southern Spice Restaurant (South Indian Cuisine) « This Sh*t's Delicious

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