The self-described “Asian Bistro-Bar” stands out among the industrial-modern bare brick buildings along King Street West. It is a squat black structure with maple wood detailing and a long and dense row of small pine-like trees lining the front. It sticks out, but without a splashy sign bearing its name, you’d never know that this is one of the most up-and-coming eateries in the city.
Inside, Spice Route mixes ancient Oriental and modern. The large bar takes up most of the centre of the restaurant. Flanking either side is a lounge section, with large cushioned chairs and low tables, and a restaurant – large tables and booths.
A group varying in age often congregate around the bar. Twenty-somethings and those in their later years mix, sipping on martinis, cocktails and foreign brews alike. Dress is fairly casual, but still classy; the men wear slacks, the women heels and skirts. Sneakers are not among the footwear of choice. The look of the crowd is surprising, given the affordable pricing of food and drink: drinks range from $5 for imported beers to $10 for martinis to $25 for a quarter-century aged malt. Starters begin at $6 and entrees round off at $30 for the higher priced items, like duck and sirloin.
The food is a generic mix of Asian: Thai noodles, Chinese spring rolls, Japanese sushi, Indian spiced dips. Ordering a single plate is passé here – many dishes are made to be shared.
Order a plate of Singapore rice noodles with wok-seared beef and spicy curry sauce; a plate large enough to feed five will appear somewhere on your table. Likewise, the lemon glazed chicken with sweet peppers, crispy wonton and Thai citrus sauce is a dish deep enough to satisfy your table.
This approach is interesting. It not only promotes an open and casual dining experience, engaging your dining group in cheerful conversation, but also provides diners with the opportunity to taste different plates and platters throughout the meal.
As a result, the restaurant is delightfully abuzz with a “have you tried…” and “do you like…” symphony.
Unique atmosphere, affordable dishes and a special take on the eating experience make Spice Route a perfect pick for date dinners and girls’ nights out alike.