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Green Leaf Indian Cuisine-- Durham, NC

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As mentioned elsewhere, this is the new restaurant that has opened in the old, short-lived Taste of India location, off of University Dr. next to Auto Zone and behind Super Target.

Went for lunch today with my wife and this place is fantastic! The chef is from Tamil Nadu region of India so his spicing defnitely has a South Indian hand. I had the non veg kal dosa and my wife had the veg kal dosa. Kal dosa is thicker than a traditional dosa, which is more crepe like, whereas as the kal dosa is more like a crispy flat pancake. The chef's choice meat for my dish turned out to be chicken chettinad and it was very delicious. My wife's veg dish turned out to be a spicier version of navratan korma, creamy, slightly sweet from the veggies and lovely fragrance of warm spices. The best thing about this place is the curries tasted very different from each other. The name of the restaurant may imply they are vegetarian and that may be their bent given they are South Indian but there are plenty of non veg dishes, which I think sets it apart from other good South Indian joints in the area like Udipi Cafe and Tower. I also liked that they offered a wide variety of dishes, not just the typical tandoori, tikka malasa, etc., of other Indian places. This has been a constant lament of mine. The service is very friendly. Anand and Stalin (yes, that's his name and he's proud of it) are generous and friendly characters. Lastly, the prices are reasonable-- much better than Saffron, my current reigning Indian restaurant champion. I am already willing to call this place one of the best Indian restaurants in the Triangle and if the same quality and experience follows after the next few visits I am already leaning towards naming this place the best Indian restaurant in the Triangle, IMO of course. I know it's been just one meal but being of Indian origin, growing up eating Indian food daily, and having eaten in countless Indian restaurants in the US and Europe I know good Indian food when I eat it.

And no, I have no affiliation with these folks. I am just trying my best to get the word out because this place needs to survive.

Oh, and while they have a lunch and dinner buffet, I really encourage you to order off the menu. I think it's far more interesting and likely of better quality.

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  1. Fantastic news ... I hadn't heard about this place until now. Will be sure to try it. thanks. Now for my usual question: are they licensed to serve beer/wine?

    2 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      I don't think so-- at least not yet. They have only been open for about 10 days now. Although I don't know what the laws are, I bet they would be very accomodating to BYOB.

      1. re: bbqme

        Thanks bbqme, I'll take that into account. Maybe I'll give them a call first.

    2. Carpe Durham has an updated review (http://carpedurham.wordpress.com/2009...) of food from their normal menu.

      1. I asked if they had a menu other than the buffet at lunch and was told no-- but maybe this was an issue of language barrier? The buffet was very good, but having read reviews of the food from the menu on Carpe Durham and here, I was really hoping to dine a la carte. I'll try again, I guess!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pigloader

          do you know anything about how they source their products (eg, free range chicken, local veg)?

          1. re: dbird

            Highly doubtful. Free range, organic, and often local products are more expensive and doesn't fit into a buffet business model.

        2. I tried Green Leaf for a second time, for Sunday lunch this time. Once again, it was quite good. One of the owners spent a good bit of time talking with me. He told me that main persons doing the cooking in the kitchen are two chefs he brought over from India. Both were former chefs in the Taj hotel chain, one from the Mumbai (Bombay) Taj and the other from the Chennai (Madras) Taj. In India, some of the best restaurants are found in the first class hotels and the Taj certainly fits the bill. It's impressive that he has brought in not one but two chefs of this caliber. This is a gutsy move because of the higher salary expense he must be incurring. I'm sure this cost s partially offset but the lower rent and overhead ofthe location that he is in. he said one day he's like to have a place that is as nice as Mint but for now he has to keep his other costs low, which I certainly understand.

          I gave him some ideas for different offerings. Because one of his partners is Bengali, I wanted them to offer some Bengali dishes some nights and made specific dish sugestions. I also suggested that some of India's most interesting dishes were the street foods, like was Cool Breeze in cary offers. He liked these ideas and said they will try to add them to their rotation in the future. He said that the chefs he has brought in has another 60 dishes in their repetoire and will roll them out over time to keep things interesting.

          1. What happened to this place? :-(

            I just went there for lunch - the buffet was...awful. I don't think they will be open much longer it's basically what happened to the last place that was there for any length of time. The employees seemed kind of ashamed of it all. It was quite empty at 12:30 on a weekday as well. Few selections. It started out so great...

            14 Replies
            1. re: Barbara

              I also went there a couple of times recently for lunch based on recommendations from earlier this year.

              I thought the food was mediocre to poor.

              It wasn't spiced and the selection was poor.

              The second time I went the dosas came out late and were greasy.

              Any of the restaurants in Cary do a better job.

              So does Sitar (half a mile away) on a decent day.

              The restaurant was almost empty at lunch time on Thursday/Friday.

              I wonder what went wrong?

              1. re: castaway

                I wonder too - I think there are different people there than when it first opened, so I wonder if it changed hands again :-(

                The last time I was there it was iffy and today was pretty much my last straw. It's gone from the best Indian I've found in the area to the worst...I've got to try Saffron.

                1. re: castaway

                  Or come to Mint in Chapel Hill which is closer to Cary (and maybe a bit more pricy).. I think I heard they still do a good job.

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                  Chapel Hill Restaurant
                  101 N Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    I went to Mint for lunch this week and was very impressed (as I'd been in the past). It seemed very bustlilng for a Monday lunch, so I think they must be doing well.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Yeah I had only been for lunch one time and was told to make reservations (but I had a party of 6 and it's a tight space). Glad to hear it still is good. I hope it stays that way for a long time. I've been to Tandoor too and while lots of the college kids here like it.. as far as lunches it doesn't hold a candle to Mint (though it is cheaper I think)

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                      Tandoor Restaurant
                      279 Powers Ferry Rd SE Ste F, Marietta, GA 30067

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        I didn't order the lunch buffet, but my friend did, and seemed to enjoy it. It seemed like there was a fairly good selection of stuff on it. I went with the regular menu (which seemed to surprise them) and it was really very good.

                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      I didn't even know about Mint! I live in Durham on the Chapel Hill side, so this is great. Thanks! Not a Tandoor fan.

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                      Chapel Hill Restaurant
                      101 N Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

                      Tandoor Restaurant
                      279 Powers Ferry Rd SE Ste F, Marietta, GA 30067

                  2. re: Barbara

                    I went there a couple of weeks ago as well and yes it is awful now! I asked if Stalin was still there and they said he left for another restaurant. I asked which one and the guy looked me in the face and lied, saying he didn't know-- It was abvious that he did. I also asked about the other fellow and was told he was on an "extended vacation" to India. I think the ownership has changed and they have cut their costs to the bone. The Indians and Bangladeshis working in the kitchen have been replaced by Mexicans (heard Spanish music blaring for the kitchen while I was at the buffet) and they are using the lowest cost food ingredients (potatoes, only meat was dark meat chicken).

                    I am deeply saddened by this development. Mint is indeed good but it is far more expensive. Nonetheless, Mint needs to succeed. I'll be goin there from now on.

                    1. re: bbqme

                      Bummer. I really liked Green Leaf when it first opened. I haven't been in a few months, now I probably won't return. I tried Mint a few weeks ago for the lunch buffet and was pretty wowed.

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                      Green Leaf's
                      1235 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington, VA 22202

                        1. re: nekst

                          This is really tragic. However, the good news is that The Clay Pit looks promising (see my separate thread on The Clay Pit) and could be a reasonable substitute.

                          1. re: nekst

                            That's a shame. They really had good food when they opened, and I was a huge fan of their vegetarian buffet night.

                          2. re: bbqme

                            I was a huge fan of Green Leaf and was desperately sad when I found it closed. If any one happened to find out where the chef/owner relocate, please kindly share this information.
                            BTW, the Eastern Light next to Green Leaf was seemly on downhill. The noodle in Chow Ma Mien was still good yet the soup (broth) was a little bit less flavorful. Hope their crispy duck (sorry I forgot the translation) is still as good as before.