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May 27, 2008 10:38 AM

Royal India

Had the day off and tripped around by foot in the Plus 15 network as I sometimes like to do. I ended up for lunch at Royal India, the space on 4th Ave that used to be Chutney.

$17.95 for the buffet, which was huge and well stocked. There were 4 different meats: lamb and beef curries as well as tandoori and butter chicken. 4 different cold salads and a good range of vegetable offerings. The usual East Indian Buffet fare I guess, but with everything at once, rather than just certain dishes rotated every few days.

The place is really large, with seating of well over 100 I would guess.

What struck me about the food was how fresh everything tasted. The meat dishes were excellent, but I found the vegetable items a bit bland across the board. Heat level was medium which I appreciated. The pakoras were excellent. Their raita was also great, which is of huge importance to me.

This will certainly be slotted into my rotation of Indian restos I frequent.

Overall it was a very good to excellent experience.

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  1. Thanks for the review formerlyfingers. I went past there yesterday and wondered about it...having never seen it pop up on the discussions of east indian food before.

    Just curious but what type of prep did they use for the veggies that they were bland?

        1. re: formerlyfingers

          Do you disagree? I was only reacting honestly.

          1. re: John Manzo

            LOL .... I was more just commenting on the matter of fact and rather abrupt way your post sounded.

            To answer your question, though, I didn't find the price high, personally. If I think about it, I guess it's on the higher side for Indian buffet. It prices alongside the likes of Rajdoot (just OK at best) and Tandoori Hut (better). But I must admit that I am not motivated by price in choosing my meals. I will always give a place a try and judge the overall experience afterwards, only then considering the price in the equation.

            With that said, the experience I had lived up to the price. For a mere 3 or 4 dollars more than other places, I got a downtown experience in a nice room with efficient service and a diverse, fresh and well made spread.

            "Expensive" then, is a completely relative term.

            I once paid 5 bucks and change for a cup of clover coffee and although "expensive" to some, those who appreciate the process and the quality do not bat an eyelash at the price. Wink wink, nudge. nudge.

            Clay oven = low overhead, scant selection, NE stripmall and very good.

            Royal India = high overhead, prime DT real estate, massive selection and very good.

            1. re: formerlyfingers

              I guess I agree, it's just that it doesn't seem all that long ago that I used to go for the buffet at Nataraj in TO for, if memory serves, $7.95. I guess this is just reality now- and I have to admit that I drop $20 for lunch for sushi (more like $30 at Blowfish) routinely so I shouldn't complain about a good Indian for $17.95.

              I remember a Mongolian Grill place in Mobile Al when I lived there (95-97) that had all-you-can-eat for $3.95! And it was fantastic!

              1. re: John Manzo

                You don't want to do the comparisons on food in AL vs Calgary even today. Every time I go home, I eat out every day (BBQ of course) and barely drop the cash that I would on 1 or 2 dinners here (and I stay there for longer than a week).

                I wouldn't pay $17.95 any where else for an Indian buffet but in Calgary it seems pretty on par with other lunch venues (unfortunately).

                1. re: Merry113

                  Yes, from what I hear from DH it seems that restos are counting on corporate credit cards when they set lunch prices.

                  1. re: Merry113

                    Merry- I've not seen $17.95 anywhere else- what is Glory of India these days?

                    Surya, at $12.95 ($13.95 for dinner) is a relative bargain, still.

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      I didn't mean for Indian buffet exclusively. I just meant that when you go out for lunch in Calgary you spend that much more often than not no matter where you go (Joey Tomatoes, sushi, etc). I just seems that you spend at least a $20 bill when you go out.

                      I'm going to have to try out Surya soon. I am lucky, though, I work just up the street from Tiffin so I go there all the time. Makes it hard to justify branching out at lunch time for Indian.

                      1. re: Merry113

                        Oh, and Merry, if you want to branch out from your NE location, i wouldnt bother travelling that far west to Surya for food that is not appreciably better than what you're already eating. Head North to Falconridge/Castleridge. It's closer, and better.

                        1. re: yen

                          Thanks! Where is your favorite in Falconridge/Castleridge?

                          1. re: Merry113

                            The Village, Nirvana, Southern Seas are all really good. Bombay Sweet House is good at lunch (i'd skip dinner there). There's a couple other places on the backside of the plaza that i've been meaning to try too (i grabbed samosas from one of them.. la fresh sweet house? maybe?, but that was all)- can't remember their names exactly, but i'll get them

                        1. re: yen

                          Is Surya's dinner buffet every night?

                          1. re: djdragan

                            No, M and W

                            And Yen i agree there are better ethnic options of all sorts in the NE an SE- I gravitate to DT/Beltline since that's where I live but I'm sure there are much better deals and better food in the ethnoburbs.

          2. I passed by there with the husband a couple weeks ago looking for good food - was starving and thought, hell - there's a Royal India in every city, can't be all bad, probably a chain.

            It was tasty, don't get me wrong ... but like chinese food, it should be cheaper than what I'd pay in a fine-r dining venue. Curries and rice, perhaps some meat in it, perhaps some cheese, good naan, decent chutneys / raitas - but it's still freakin' curry & rice (as you can see, I have a difficult time justifying it)! Albeit, tasty and delicately flavoured - but I'd expect no less in any other place we've been to for much less, with better and faster service.

            I won't go back (without a corporate card), especially now knowing the lunch buffet is $17.95! However, I do understand that what's described is the norm in Calgary, esp. for a downtown venue. If it's convenient - why not? It was good food.