The name says it all for Spice Avenue, the Indian restaurant on State Street in Santa Barbara. Offering an entrancingly buoyant cuisine with a Bombay chef and the staff right out of London. The cuisines of North and South India, as well as Mughlai (Pakastani-style cooking), are a gorgeous blend of flavors: curries; spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander and cinnamon; and heats of garlic, onion, ginger and chilies.
The lavish buffet is one of the main draws of the menu. "The buffet gives those who aren't familiar with Indian food a chance to sample a few things," explains co-owner Sunny Pujji.
The menu is quite extensive offering seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetarian selections. Tandoori, an Indian-style barbecue, is always popular, and for guests who can't decide, try the Mixed Grill which includes chicken, two kinds of lamb and shrimp cooked in the clay oven.
The two brothers, Sunny and Sandy Pujji opened Spice Avenue in the spring of 2003, having recently moved from London where they also owned a restaurant. With over 15 years of experience, Chef Samrat Bhosle began his career in Bombay and is a veteran of some of the top Indian restaurants in Los Angeles. The warmth and friendliness of the staff, which also includes Urmil (mom) and Nancy (Sunny's wife), makes dining at Spice Avenue a truly pleasurable experience.
A nice selection of local, California and international wines, including wines and beer from India.
Packaged curry paste, vindaloo, a variety of spices, Indian snack foods like fennel candy.
"The airy but warm space is fragrant with curry and other spices. The decor and colors of the interior even echo the paprika, cumin and fennel found in the complex flavors of the food." by Melissa Wilbanks, Santa Barbara News, Oct 3-9, 2003
"The hot dishes exceeded my expectations. A lamb curry with a great deal of sauce ... was subdued and elegant. The basmati rice pilaf is delicious and slightly perfumed, while the dhal I had was a lentil dish flavored like American split pea soup. It was unbelievably nice on the naan. Besides this there have been potato (aloo) dishes and even okra that I have let linger in my memory as well as on my tongue." by D. J. Palladino, The Independent, May 8, 2003
"By far the best restaurant in Santa Barbara to explore Indian flavors is Spice Avenue. Housed in an inviting, beautifully decorated space. Spices are well balanced and more varied than those found in most Indian restaurants. The dishes are mostly prepared in the Northern style, with which Americans are most familiar, including the Moghul cuisine of the Persian influenced royal Muslim courts. Moghul cooking features tandoori dishes: meats and naan, a leavened flatbread, baked in an extremely hot clay oven. Moghul food is often enriched with nuts, cream and sauces based on a cooked puree of onions and tomatoes. Since opening 1-1/2 years ago, Spice Avenue has garnered a loyal word of mouth following for bounteous buffet and ala carte menu. The Pujji family who previously owned a restaurant in London, including mother Urmil, brothers Sunny and Sandy, and Sunny's wife Navdeep will be delighted to describe the dishes and help you select an assortment that is traditionally balanced for your highest bliss."
Santa Barbara Food & Home Magazine, by Miriam Hospodar, Fall 2004
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