Andrea’s View: I must admit that the last few food adventures were a tad boring for me. I really wasn’t “wowed” by any new dish or super-excellent service. I was beginning to feel as if “food adventures” had run its course. Spice Nation on Lafayette Road was a watershed moment for me. I don’t mean to be over-the-top, but this restaurant really did change the way I feel about ethnic food.
Spice Nation is an Indian restaurant specializing in vegetarian and vegan food. It’s not hard to find, but it doesn’t have the typical store front that one would see from the street. This is a business within a business. It’s like a big-box store for everything Indian. A grocery store, boutique, a hair salon, and this restaurant. Dave and I were famished when we arrived, and we were seated right away. We were asked if we wanted any garlic naan, (yes, please), and if we were vegan, (no, not really.) We were also asked what spice level we prefered, and we answered, “Medium.” The host/owner told us that most of the food was spiced medium and that most dishes were vegan. We were then told that we could start at any time. What? Oh, it’s a buffet. I just saw Dave’s eyes gloss over and his heart drop to his shoes. Now, I don’t care much for buffets either, but Dave would rather have the chicken pox than eat from a buffet. Dave said, “Ask if we can order from the menu.” I asked. The host/owner said that he prefer that we did not. Dave gave me another death glare and I said, “We’re here, we’re hungry, and I already ordered bread. Let’s just eat.”
The buffet is set up with three different “carts”. One for hot food, one for cold, and one for dessert. I walked around first without a plate to check out the dishes. I recognised absolutely nothing. The dishes were labeled with their Indian names and whether or not they are vegan or just vegetarian, but there were no descriptions. I was just staring at a vast rainbow of red, orange, and yellow sauces with some rice. I grabbed a plate and for lack of a better word, I dug in.
Back at the table, I pulled the camera out of my purse to take a picture of my plate of food. At this point, Dave said, “Andrea, don’t bother. We don’t even know what we are eating. Lets just eat, and go on a food adventure later.” I agreed and put the camera back in my purse. I started to eat something red. The red tasted really good. Then I ate a little orange. It was really good. Then I took a bite of something reddish brown over rice and I said out loud, “This is REALLY GOOD!!!!” Dave agreed. He said, “This is REALLY GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I ate a bite of some yellow cabbage stuff and said, “All of this food is REALLY GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!” I said to Dave, “Did you try the chickpea thing, its excellent. You should go get some of the chick pea thing.” Another staff member came over and brought us a crepe-like thing with potato inside, and as you might have guessed, it was REALLY GOOD!!!!!!!!!!! It was as we were devouring our plates of food that Dave and I decided to get another plate and start taking pictures. This place was too good not to write about it.
I know that some people are a little leery of vegetarian/vegan food, but don’t be. You probably won’t even be able to tell that this food is vegan. It’s just really excellent food. It doesn’t matter that it comes off of a buffet. It’s probably better that it does. That way, you can taste all the different colors, textures, and divine flavors that this restaurant has to offer. It doesn’t even matter that you don’t know what you are eating, it’s more exciting and interesting when it’s unexpected. We have to go back and bring some friends with us. I didn’t even get to sample the desserts, I was too stuffed from the other offerings. When you come to Spice Nation, bring an open mind and an empty stomach. You’ll need both.
Dave’s View: Two concepts I dislike. Okay, I hate them. I really hate them.
1. Buffets. Especially Indian buffets.
2. Vegan and vegetarian food.
In general, I don’t like buffets because of the temperature aspect of it. You don’t know how long the item has been sitting there. The food item cooks uneven and when you bite down you get some parts that are cold and some parts that are hot. I don’t like it.
When we talk vegetarian food, how was it? Did you really like it? I mean, was it the best meal you’ve had in a long time? Did you fall out of your seat and have somebody roll you out of the restaurant because the food was that good?
I’ve never had a restaurant who has changed my mind until now. Spice Nation has opened my mind to the buffets and the vegetarian diet. When Andrea and I first enter Spice Nation, we couldn’t find it. You have to walk down a corridor, past a hair salon and on the right is Spice Nation, waiting to entrap you into its web of vegetarianism. Nice polished chairs and pictures of Indian life on the walls. Plus, you get the added bonus of fake flowers taped up in between the pictures. It’s bizarre, but definitely a first in Indianapolis! It’s funny because the owner is constantly taping the fake flowers up to keep them from falling off. Hopefully, he’ll figure out there’s a better way of hanging them. He definitely doesn’t have to figure out how to prepare his food. If you don’t like Vegetarian food, Spice Nation will changed your mind. I don’t know what I had, but it was excellent. When Andrea and I first sat down, we both wanted a menu to choose a dish, but the owner was insistent on us trying the buffet. So, I looked at Andrea and said, “Damn it, I hate buffets.” Then two glasses of water were placed on our table. I wanted a beer, damn it, I get a glass of water. I’m pouting like a ten-year old in a chain restaurant.
We go up to the buffet and pour and pick up whatever was served. Some items don’t look appetizing, others look mouth-watering. We both sit down and take our first bite, then our second and third bite. We both look at each other. What are we eating, we say telepathically? Whatever it is, it’s fantastic!
So here’s what I had:
It is all very tasty and excellent. Yes, you’ll still have the temperature differences when eating the buffet at this restaurant, but the flavors will overwhelm you that you don’t care. I didn’t care that I didn’t have a beer. I was perfectly fine with a glass of water. It just made the meal that much better. I know the picture above looks like a Picasso painting of food. Guess what? It is!
So please, you want a true food adventure in Indianapolis? Spice Nation is your next stop.
Service: 8 Food: 9.6 Ambiance: 9 Total: 26.6 out of 30
$15-$25 without adult beverages. Do they serve adult beverages? I don’t think so. Go with the water!
Note: Your mouth will be saying, “What is going on here? There is no meat. I can’t figure this out.” Just tell your mouth to shut up and eat.