For the past 22 years, Spice Jammer Restaurant has been serving traditional homemade East African Indian dishes.
Anytime I hear about a restaurant in Victoria that’s been running a successful business for that many years, I am very keen to go check them out.
For this, my first time out for dinner at Spice Jammer, I had to check out my Google map to remind myself where it was.
I knew it was somewhere in the downtown area, and as it turns out, I had unknowingly driven past it many times before.
Driving along Fort Street on “Antique Row”, you can almost miss this restaurant as the sign isn’t overly big or obvious as you’re driving by.
Looking at it from the outside, Spice Jammer is very unassuming and I wondered if it was going to be that good, with an out-dated review on its window.
Well it turns out that you really can’t judge a book by its cover as our night out at Spice Jammer turned out to be quite enjoyable.
When we first walked in I thought the place looked much less tired than the outside might have suggested.
I had read that they had done some renovations and the decor was definitely inviting.
It was a bit dark inside though (no windows), which for us was totally suitable for a dinner place, but I wondered if it would be as good for lunch.
I noticed the East Indian music playing in the background which set the mood and after being seated at our comfy table, both Mark and I got a good feeling about the place.
As soon as we sat down we were greeted by our very friendly server who told us about their appetizer special that they run every day from 5-6 PM and their 3 course $20 special which they run every Tuesday and Wednesday.
The only catch was that you couldn’t partake in both specials which at first was a bit disappointing but oh well.
Since we were there early, we decided to go for their appetizer special, which included either a glass of red wine or beer with either beef or veggie samosas, or pakoras.
I got the red wine/beef samosa appetizer combo (sadly they were out of veggie samosas or I would have tried them), and Mark ordered the beer/pakoras appetizer combo.
For fun, we also decided to order the “Fried Mogo” ($4.75) appetizer, which was described as an “African delicacy”.
They tasted similar to french fries but were thicker and a bit sweeter.
The Pakoras were nice and meaty which I liked and were also a good size.
I thought the Samosa was just okay.
There seemed to a predominant flavour of clove which I felt overpowered the rest of the ingredients and it was also smaller than others I’ve had around town.
The last appetizer we had was the “Garlic Naan” ($3.50). This is a staple for me anytime I dine at an Indian restaurant as I always love it.
This naan, though quite a bit thinner that those I’ve had before, did not disappoint. It was super garlicy and had I not needed to save room for my main entree, I would have easily ordered another!
Again, as this was our first visit to Spice Jammer, we decided to try a few of their more popular dishes so we could compare them to others we’ve had in Victoria.
I went with the “Butter Chicken” ($17.25) and Mark ordered both the “Chicken Tikka Masala” ($18.95), and the “Coconut Dal” ($11.95).
If you’ve never ordered at an Indian restaurant before, you need to order a side of rice with your meal as your meal doesn’t normally come with it.
At Spice Jammer you can order either the “Plain Rice” ($3.50) or the “Pilau Rice” ($4.25). We ordered one of each.
If you’ve never had Pilau rice, it’s rice (in this case Basmati) flavoured with cardamon, cumin, saffron and cinnamon. There are variations of this recipe but this is what we had at Spice Jammer.
Mark ate the Pilau rice and I ate the plain rice.
Though I have nothing against Pilau rice, I preferred the plain rice to go with my butter chicken.
As I usually do, I ordered my chicken spiced “mild”, but you can of course order yours in varying degrees of heat, up to “extra hot”.
When my chicken first came out I thought that maybe they had made a mistake and given me the wrong dish as the colour was a lot different than other butter chicken dishes I’ve had before.
This one was reddish-orange compared to the mostly brownish-yellow that I’m used to. (I learned later while looking at recipes for butter chicken that many call for red food colouring to achieve that colour).
Colour aside, I really enjoyed my chicken. The sauce had a silky, rich texture which had me begging to lick my plate clean afterwards.
Mark was equally satisfied with his meal. He said his chicken tikka masala was very flavourful.
The coconut dal was something neither of us had had before but we both enjoyed it as well.
If you’ve never had it, it’s creamy lentils prepared in a coconut sauce. It tastes pretty much like it sounds.
Normally after a meal I like to finish it off with something sweet but I have to admit I often find it challenging to find something on the menu at an Indian restaurant that I like.
I usually default with Kheer (like rice pudding) but unfortunately Spice Jammer didn’t have that on their menu.
Oh well, I was pretty full after all that food anyway so I just had a bit of Mark’s “Kulfi Ice Cream” ($4.75).
Kulfi is a popular Indian frozen dessert that looks like ice cream but is denser and creamier.
The one they serve at Spice Jammer had hints of saffron, cardamon and nutmeg in it. Good for Mark’s taste buds but not for my sweet tooth. I guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to ice cream.
As an aside, I should mention that when it comes to sweets, the mango chutney that they serve here is PHENOMENAL! It was sweet like candy and I could have easily eaten it for dessert!
At the end of the night we left quite full and happy that we had finally stopped by Spice Jammer Restaurant.
On my next visit I’d like to try one of their lamb dishes (they have 6 on their menu) and some “Stuffed Naan” that looked appealing as well.
IN A NUTSHELL…
Spice Jammer Restaurant
Address: 852 Fort St., Victoria
Phone: (250) 480-1055
Hours: Lunch: Thurs & Fri 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Dinner: Tues – Thurs & Sun 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Fri & Sat 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
** Closed Mondays
Price: $$$ ($15 – $25 per entree)