JR's India Curry House

506 Fort Street, tel: (250) 361-9000.Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30 - 2:30 Dinner Mon - Sat 5pm onwards

I'd been trying to visit JR's India Curry House for about a year, but for some reason my craving for Indian food is always on a Sunday - the one day they're closed, or a Monday when they have been known to close.

The reason for my keen interest? Well, some food nerds like myself study health inspection reports and JRs India Curry House stands out for exceptionally clean health inspections. I love and fancy myself a connoisseur of Indian cuisine, but as with many people who have visited India, I've unfortunately come to associate this marvelous cuisine with a little bit of vomiting and diarrhoea. Anyway, the idea of food safe Indian dining really appeals to me.

Well JRs certainly takes their food safety seriously, or at least they like to advertise it that way. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is their wall of framed FoodSafe certificates. Similarly, on the menu they explain their participation in the FoodSafe excellence program - which is a voluntary program where restaurants hold themselves to a higher than minimal standard.

While the service was a smidgen on the bizarre side - an overly demure, but pleasant young lady who seemed to be followed around by a nervous looking older man, who took our orders, but did nothing else, and the clientele a tad unusual (I had to listen to the painfully banal, high-volume and borderline offensive conversation of an elderly woman and a middle aged man, perhaps her son), the food was very good and high quality.

I had the House Mix Grill: Tandoori Chicken, Curried Chicken, Beef Kofta Curry with poori ($17.50). The heat, asked for and delivered medium, was hot enough and the seasonings distinct from item to item. The Tandoori chicken, a leg and thigh, had a nice strong acidic flavour from a heavy marinade and the beef kofta (meatballs) was served in a think stew like sauce with potatoes and peas. The chicken curry was a little thinner and a little blander, but balanced out the dishes. The accompanying Poori bread, was a good, albeit high fat alternative to usual nan bread, but I could have used some rice. My mum had the Chef's Special: Butter Chicken, Chicken Curry, Vegetable Kabob & Dal served with nan and rice ($17.95). While the chicken curry and vegetable were standard fare, the butter chicken met our expectations for the painfully wonderful rich dish it's supposed to be. Similarly, the dal had a heavy and rich sauce - much richer than you would ever make for yourself, but as far as I'm concerned that's why I go to restaurants.

With both dinners, I was pleased by the portioning - for the first time in a long time, I didn't finish an Indian meal feeling like I had swallowed a soccer ball. The servings were individually small, but together made the right size meal. The selection of menu items was good and balanced with regard to heat and richness. The only unfortunate thing was that there were only three combo plates available on the menu. Much like Chinese cuisine, Indian dining tradition demands you have many bits and pieces of things to make a complete meal. If you're not dining with four or more people, it's hard to get the required variations without having combo plates available. I would have liked to see a combo that better combined the meat and vegetarian dishes.

What JRs India Curry House lacks in ambiance, it makes up for with good quality food. JRs has the potential to become my new favourite Indian restaurant.

  Reviewed: February 25, 2006