After visiting the new Old Strathcona office of Lift Interactive (where we won the cutest his and hers t-shirts), Mack and I walked over to Origin India (10511 82 Avenue), the new upscale Maurya Palace outpost. I originally reported about the “coming soon” status of Origin India back in April, and seven months later, it finally opened, apparently because they had to get up to code.
At any rate, we walked past the taped-up paper menu outside, through the doors, and were immediately transported into a world away from the hustle and bustle of Whyte. To the right of the entrance was what looked like a take-out counter, but for the moment was sparkling new and unused. We walked down a few stairs into a dimly lit room and joined the three other parties already seated.
Dominated by brown and reds, the space was warm but chic. Dark leather banquets lined both walls, and above the seats was a wooden, compartmentalized wine shelf that spanned the same length. The buffet section and bar was situated at the back of the room, and without a divide of any kind, the room felt open and welcoming. Knowing that the former occupant of this space was a dollar store, I really have to commend the owners for the absolute transformation they have overseen – I can see how additional construction time would have been necessary.
At the beginning of our visit, the music veered towards the annoying tinkering favoured at Khazana, but thankfully by the end of the night, had switched to an upbeat, Bollywood techno that in my opinion suited the space and the location better.
We were told the buffet was available, but were also provided with menus in case we decided to go the a la carte route. At $19.95 per person, the buffet wasn’t cheap, but we figured it was the best way to sample this new establishment’s fare.
The diamond-shaped plates were an interesting choice, and to some extent, the fact that there was a wide border around it made it easier to grip while we travelled the buffet line. I was disappointed to find, however, that there were only eight hot entrees (plus rice, salad and dessert) to choose from. Along with quality, I figured $20 should also buy variety.
We piled our plates high with a sample of everything, and returned to our table where a basket of fresh naan was waiting. The naan was more crisp and not as “doughy” as others I have tried, but the made-to-order factor was a real plus. My favourite dish was the lamb curry – tender, flavourful and just spicy enough, it was a departure from my usual butter chicken preference. Mack, however, enjoyed his serving of butter chicken, though his only complaint was his need to cut the chicken into more manageable, one-bite sizes (he should have also asked for a shovel in place of a fork, heh).
Our plates (they were almost identical)
The service was fabulous throughout – our waiter checked in with us just often enough to make us feel taken care of without intruding. While I am not sure I will be back (at least not for the pricey buffet), along with Devlin’s next door, I really am starting to see the shift in Old Strathcona businesses from those who target the partying set to those that primarily serve working professionals.
10511 82 Avenue
Sunday to Thursday 11:30am-11pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30am-2am