Great Spice Papamoa
Shop 9/4 Golden Sands Dr, Papamoa.
On the menu
Great Spice Papamoa is an Indian restaurant you could quite easily eat at every week, but also go there for a romantic evening or with a big group of people for lunch or dinner for a celebration.
There are the popular dishes - butter chicken, korma, masala and vindaloo (all $19-22) - the less frequented but equally delicious jalfrezi (a sweet and sour gravy dish, $16-19), and saag (meat in a spinach puree, $19).
There are opportunities to just chow down on a bunch of starters if you're keen to try the lot. For that experience, go for the Mixed Platter ($18) - samosas, onion bhaji, chicken tikka and seekh kebabs. It comes out sizzling.
They have lunch specials of $14 each, so if you're working locally, or have a long lunch, it's worth the trip.
They also have the most delicious looking banquet options for dinner (both meat or vegetarian) for $35 per person.
I recommend going just as the sun is going down and sitting near the big windows where the light streams in. Once daylight fades, the funky traditional music they have playing and the star lights on the ceiling make for a cool atmosphere.
Add to that the authentic wallpaper and dimmed hanging lamps and you will see why it could be good for a date.
We had two of the most lovely and attentive wait staff too. We were even given options that were better value for money.
Sometimes a good meal out is about the people you interact with and the staff at Great Spice really added to our experience.
We started with the Mixed Vegetable Platter for two ($16) - two samosas, two pakora, four spring rolls and onion bhaji. It came out sizzling and was generous in size. The samosas had the right amount of spice and the spring rolls had fresh veges inside.
The raita (the yoghurt/mint) that came alongside it was so delicious and balanced the little bit of heat perfectly.
For main I had the Chicken Madras ($19). The Madras is a largely coconut gravy and is a Southern Indian dish. I got it medium, which is about my limit. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the spices were not overwhelming. The rice was fluffy, light and the perfect temperature.
I also had the Kashmir Naan ($5), which was a first for me. It's stuffed with dried fruits, cooked in a tandoori oven and it's delicious! It's a nice mix of sweet and savoury.
She had a crack at the vegetarian menu and it didn't disappoint. The Palak Paneer ($17) was her weapon of choice! It's homemade cottage cheese cooked in a fine puree of fresh spinach. It's not too bulky or thick, or too rich.
The cottage cheese was cut in to medium size chunks and was a little like a cheesy fresh homemade version of tofu. She had it mild, and I loved it as much as she did. Yeah, that's one of the great things about a truly good Indian meal - it's for sharing.
She got the cheese naan ($4.50) which is, funnily enough, stuffed with cheese. And coriander. But I'm sure you could hold the coriander if you're one of those people who chooses to miss out on life's true joy of a herb.
It was a Monday night, so we didn't exactly push the boat out on the drinks, but you very much could there. They've got a decent selection. I went with the Kingfisher beer. You can get a big or small bottle, and if you were going to have a crack at the 'Indian hot', I'd recommend the big!
She had a soft drink and I thought it was cool how they actually asked if she wanted a straw or not.
For dessert we shared a Mango Kulfi ($6.50), kind of like a mango sorbet, and Gulab Jamun ($6), which is like the definition of indulgence. It's a few deep-fried balls of this kind of doughnut mixture and bathed in a sweet sugar syrup. We couldn't finish it, not through lack of trying though.
Our 'dessert stomachs' really let us down.
There's something at Great Spice Papamoa for everyone. The steadfast Indian food lover will be a fan of the variety. Those who like the staples will find everything they could want here.
And those who aren't usually a fan of Indian have plenty of options through the entrée menu and can have something not hot at all. We doggy-bagged what we couldn't eat to have for lunch the next day.
The staff are super friendly and attentive and not at all pushy. The atmosphere is diverse; take a date, or take the whole family.