Monday, February 9, 2015

February PDX Veg Restaurant: Curry Leaf

My FIL offered to take us out to dinner last weekend to celebrate my birthday, and I thought about suggesting Swagat, as that's oddly becoming one of my favorites, but we were just there on my actual birthday. Instead, still in the mood for Indian food, we figured it would be a good chance to try the Indian restaurant on our list for the year: Curry Leaf. It's not all vegan - there are a fair number of cheese based items in this genre - but it is all vegetarian, and many that aren't inherently vegan have the option to be modified to be. (And since we were with my FIL, I felt too conspicuous to take pictures, but Indian food isn't all that photogenic, anyway.)


Genre: Indian

Price: $4 (some appetizers and soups) to $13. Most entrees $10 to $11. 

Setting: Casual dine-in, located on the edge of a shopping center in NW (Bethany area). Their website says it's a combo with a grocery store; I didn't see any grocery store goods (but the restaurant was to one side from a corner entrance, maybe if you went down the other side it was down there?), but it did have that combined store/restaurant, sort of deli-like atmosphere. 

What we tried

Sadly they were out of the onion pakora that I initially ordered, so instead tried gobi manchurian bites, which are battered and fried cauliflower, covered in a spicy sauce. Without the sauce, I think I would have liked these (then it would have essentially been pakora, which I love - deep fried foods while you'll also eating veggies, what's not to love?), but the sauce was too spicy for my tastes. We also had some masal vada, which were fine.

For entrees, I had the masala dosa, Abe had the spinach dosa, and FIL had the vegetable kurma. The dosas were huge! Like, maybe 2 feet across (at Swagat, I think they're closer to 18" wide). I tried both dosas, and like the dosa part, but the filling was also spicier than I'm used to. 

Granted I have limited exposure to this type of food to compare it to, but I thought all of the foods here were spicier, which for some people might be good but isn't to me. Combined with the rest of the experience, not impressed.

Overall impression

The food tasted fine (albeit spicy), but the service was not great. When not ready to order when first ask, the guy acted annoyed, and after that the service was really really slow. At one point we were clearly done eating and waiting for boxes and the check, and both the servers (owners?) were standing within eyesight chatting with someone (not a customer), paying no attention to us. 

I presume it's a family business, which I would like to support, and I understand that means they might not have as consistent standards and policies as a larger place might. But a family business is still a business, and needs to be run as such! Chatting to friends or family members who stopped by doesn't excuse you from paying attention to paying customers. 

If we lived in that part of town and it was the closest Indian restaurant, I might be willing to stop by for take-out, but when we have an Indian restaurant closer to home (Swagat) at which we've always had both great food and excellent service, I don't foresee coming back here, even for the sake of supporting a vegetarian restaurant or local family business. 

Would I take my parents?*: Heck no. I've been trying to talk my parents into going to Swagat, and I think I will take them there next time they're in town, but Swagat provides a good enough overall experience to offset the potential discomfort that they might have with unfamiliar foods. A poor restaurant experience plus food they might not like simply isn't something I'll ask them to subject themselves to. 

*Scale: Heck no. No. Probably not. Maybe. Eh, yeah. Yes. Definitely. 

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