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The Almighty Wisdom of the Green Leaf God

Posted by YAR 5 Apr 2009 28 Comments

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We briefly posted about Green Leaf (4215-1 University Dr.) when it had been open for two days.  It looked promising then, and now it seems pretty safe to say that Durham has finally found its own delicious South Indian food.  (Not that it’s a competition, but take that Cary and Morrisville!  All in good fun, I love Udupi and Tower to death.)

Green Leaf doesn’t only serve  South Indian cuisine–they have some of the more traditional Northern Indian dishes and, though we haven’t tried them, some Indo-chinese dishes as well.  One great thing about their wide range is that they have meat on the menu (not an option at the other South Indian places in the Triangle).  Check out this extremely awesome comment on our previous post for a breakdown of their buffets.

We ordered too much food, as usual, and had to eat almost all of it.  We started with some pakora–when we’d had the buffet a couple weeks ago the cabbage pakora was wonderful, so we wanted some more of that fried chickpea flour goodness.  We went for the hot chili pakora ($4.95), which was not quite as spicy as the waiter warned us it would be, and also had a thicker, softer dough than the cabbage pakora had.  I think I slightly preferred the cabbage, but these pakoras were also great.

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Then we tried the cheese naan ($2.50)–the cheese was an unexciting addition, but the naan itself was pretty ideally pillowy.  Also unsurprisingly delicious was the Mango Lassi ($2.50)–they also offered Sweet and Salt lassi varieties.

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Though we were full already, we had no problem tearing into the two entrees we got, at the waiter’s suggestion, from the Green Leaf Specialties section of the menu.  First was the non-veg kal dosa ($9.95) which came with a curry of the chef’s choice (today it was chicken).  That was some delicious curry.  The chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce was a perfect blend of sweet and spicy–the heat was definitely not overwhelming, but I could feel it getting to me (in a good way) by the time I had eaten my share.

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Next was the “Five different types cocktail uthappam with garbanzo curry” ($13.95).  This meant five kinds of uthappam (thick pancake-like things) of the chef’s choice, served with sambar and another amazing curry (this one slightly less spicy than the chicken curry).  I couldn’t tell you what all of the uthappam types were, but one was slightly sweet, with nuts and raisins; one was spicy, with jalapenos and crispy onions; and one had peas and deliciously spiced potatoes.  They ranged from good to great, but the curry was the best part for me.

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This place is amazing.  The owners/waiters (I think they are the same people right now) are incredibly friendly and ambitious about their restaurant.  They said that business has doubled from the first week to the second, but it was still fairly empty today.  I pray (to the Green Leaf God) that they succeed!

Green Leaf
4215-1 University Dr.
919-493-0033
M-F 11:30-2:30, 5:30-9:30
Sat-Sun 12-3, 5:30-9:30

28 Comments »

  • Phil said:

    Fantastic. Thank you.

    BTW — does “Indo-Chinese” mean “Indian-Chinese” and not “Indonesian-Chinese”? I assume the former, but there’s enough fuzziness in the word-and-food-world to think it -might- be the latter.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    YUM

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  • Sant said:

    Yes, it means Indian-Chinese. There are large Chinese communities in the major cities of India, especially Calcutta, going back to British rule.

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  • Stephanie said:

    Hello Bloggers,

    I am a fellow Duke student working for a brand new website called TownMe. It is a place where locals can find out neat things and review places in their town. There is a page for Durham restaurant bloggers and I think your blog is one of the best. I was wondering if you would allow us to feature some of the content from your blog in our restaurant reviews and Durham food pages. I can give you a badge for your blog saying that you were featured on TownMe. Please let me know if you agree. Also, please check out the site (www.townme.com/durham-nc) and leave a comment.

    Thanks!
    Stephanie (stephanie@townme.com)

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  • Dave said:

    Green Leaf had an ad on the op-ed page of Tuesday’s Herald Sun. The ad lists different buffets for different days:

    Tuesday – North Indian Nights
    Wednesday – Indo Chinese Buffet
    Thursday – Vegetarian Tiffen Buffet
    Friday – Chettinad Nights
    Saturday – Green Leaf Special Nights

    They also have a website at
    http://www.greenleafindiancuisine.com

    The website says it is still under construction, but it does already have the regular menu and a description of the Wednesday buffet specials.

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  • peanutbutter said:

    WOWZAA! We went there for lunch today. The lunch buffet wasn’t the all-veg version that I was hoping for, but it was 1/2 veg and 1/2 meat. I think that the specialty buffets are only at dinner.

    It is great being able to get some tasty south Indian veg food without having to go to sCary.

    Since this was my first visit, I can’t vouch for the ‘always’ in the tagline but the food was quite ‘awesome’.

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  • Matthew said:

    I am looking forward to trying this!

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  • Johnathan said:

    We ate at Green Leaf on Wednesday – it definitely lived up to this review. The best Indian food I’ve ever had in the Triangle, and I’m still feasting on the leftovers. Can’t wait to go back.

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  • JB said:

    We went tonight planning to eat from the menu, but it happened to be the all-vegetarian buffet night, so we went with it. It was amazing! Some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. The spinach dosa, paneer makhani, a creamy potato masala dish whose name I can’t remember… I’m hooked. And there were plenty of people there, so hopefully the word spreading. Long live Green Leaf.

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  • AC said:

    Long time lurker but wanted to post my thanks for finding Green Leaf. I’ve been to the old Indian restaurant that used to be in this location but wasn’t overly impressed. The new owners and food now make this place one of my favorites in Durham.

    Green Leaf and Spice and Curry are my favorite two Indian restaurants in town!!

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  • David said:

    I went to Green Leaf for the third time last night, and I was excited to see that there was finally a good crowd. My last two trips have been on vegetarian day, and the buffet was almost completely different each time. Also, on each visit the waiter brought out a tray of delicious complimentary dosas. It looks like the weeknight buffet price is set at 8.95, which is a pretty great deal. It’s a bit of a drive for me, but for the quality and variety of the food it’s well worth it.

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  • apathy said:

    The dosa alone are worth the trip, but the deep friend naan (called something else, but I’m sure thats what it was) was amazing. It was like Native America fry bread with the added bonus of curry.

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  • Sant said:

    I tried Green Leaf for a second time, for Sunday lunch this time. Once again, it was quite good. One of the owners spent a good bit of ime talking with me. He told me that main persons doing the cooking in the kitchen are two chefs he brought over from India. Both were former chefs in the Taj hotel chain, one from the Mumbai (Bombay) Taj and the other from the Chennai (Madras) Taj. In India, some of the best restaurants are found in the first class hotels and the Taj certainly fits the bill. It’s impressive that he has brought in not one but two chefs of this caliber. This is a gutsy move because of the higher salary expense he must be incurring. I’m sure this cost s partially offset but the lower rent and overhead ofthe location that he is in. he said one day he’s like to have a place that is as nice as Mint but for now he has to keep his other costs low, which I certainly understand.

    I gave him some ideas for different offerings. Because one of his partners is Bengali, I wanted them to offer some Bengali dishes some nights and made specific dish sugestions. I also suggested that some of India’s most interesting dishes were the street foods, like was Cool Breeze in cary offers. He liked these ideas and said they will try to add them to their rotation in the future. He said that the chefs he has brought in has another 60 dishes in their repetoire and will roll them out over time to keep things interesting.

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  • JohnforAmerica said:

    We stopped by last Saturday after reading reviews here, and, to make it short, it was fantastic!

    We were greeted at the door by a line of waiting attendants, one of which seated us, another that placed our silverware, and another that filled our water glasses. Granted, we came in toward the end of the lunch hour, so they weren’t busy, but it was nice all the same.

    Let me lead off by stating that my primary measurement of service is how often my water glass is filled. I drink a lot of water, and good waiters notice this and return often to fill the glass up. Bad, or even average waiters, let me sit there with an empty glass and nothing to drink. My water glass was not empty ONCE, which was quite impressive.

    On to the food. I had the buffet and my girlfriend had the cornish hen (forgot what it’s called, but it’s at the bottom of the page). We both LOVED our food, and she doesn’t generally even like Indian food. They cooked her dish to “medium” spiciness, which was still plenty spicy.

    I won’t even attempt to butcher the names of what I had on the buffet, but I will attempt to describe them (this was the Saturday lunch buffet). First, there was a soup with a load of veggies and starches that had a brown broth. It had a smokey flavor and was quite tasty. I also really enjoyed these little treats that were essentially a slice of potato rolled in chickpea breading and fried. They were especially good with the different chutneys offered on the buffet.

    I also had the masala chicken, Chef’s special chicken currry, and a few other dishes. All were average at worst, and really good at best!

    We were also served by the owner, Stalin, who couldn’t have been nicer! He brought us out a few items to try that weren’t on the menu or the buffet, and genuinely cared about what we thought. This is the type of owner that deserves to be successful.

    So that’s about it. Great overall experience, even if my comments are a bit vague. Reply if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer.

    PS-When we told him we heard about him online, the first thing he asked was “on Carpe Durham?” Hooray!

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  • Ross Grady said:

    @Sant, we ate there the other day & there was Bhelpuri on the buffet, so it looks like they took your chaat request to heart. Of course, since it was on the buffet, the puffed rice & etc wasn’t exactly crispy, but boy did it taste good.

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  • Jill said:

    Was there for lunch on Wed. Everything was tasty. Fresh naan and dosas were brought to our table. Love that tea is included in the buffet. Very nice, friendly people, who seemed truly interested in making sure we were enjoying what we were eating. Liked it much better than the now very expensive Sitar!

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  • Mel said:

    Hubs and I went tonight. Had a great dry vegetable curry, hot crisp dosas and chapati, tikka, lentil soups fresh salad and to complete my stuffed feeling warm chai and sweet donuts. Lovely meal and lovely wait staff. The place was getting full by 7:00pm. We will be returning!

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  • Sant said:

    Good to hear. Yeah, they should make it to order and bring it to the table to avoid soginess issues.

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  • Dave said:

    The Green Leaf website at
    http://www.greenleafindiancuisine.com/
    is much improved – each day’s buffet is described in detail and the regular menu is very easy to navigate and quite informative.

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  • Sant said:

    I went for the lunch buffet today after a few months hiatus and was shocked by the level of degradation of the food. Gone are the different, imaginative dishes and the friendly staff. The dishes on offer were clearly designed to keep food costs to an absolute minimum, e.g., masala corn and potato curry– only meats were tandoori chicken, curry chicken and curry tikka masala.

    I asked it it was under new onwership and got an evasive answer. I was told one fellow was “on vacation in India” and that Stalin had gone to another restaurant. I asked if he knew where Stain went and he said no. It was flat out obvious he was lying.

    I won’t be going back. This is really sad because this was such a good Indian restaurant. Now I’d say Mint in Chapel Hill is the best place for Indian food in the Western part of the Triangle.

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  • jld said:

    I went by today for lunch and Green Leaf was dark. Have they closed forever? Does anyone know the scoop?

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    RPP replies on January 15th, 2010 at 3:40 pm:

    They aren’t answering their phone, which doesn’t seem like a good sign.

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    RPP replies on January 19th, 2010 at 8:43 pm:

    Seems official.. their number is now disconnected.

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    MoFood replies on January 15th, 2010 at 8:58 pm:

    I was just logging on to say the same thing about dinner today- weird to be closed on a Friday night with no sign at all on the door and no message on the machine…

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    Carrie Gonnella replies on January 21st, 2010 at 8:40 pm:

    Yes, I am searching for answers about them being closed for dinner and the number disconnected. I just can’t believe they are gone forever already. I thought I had finally found my perfect Indian place.

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    David replies on January 23rd, 2010 at 7:18 pm:

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    RPP replies on January 25th, 2010 at 5:47 pm:

    Bull City Rising picked up the story: http://www.bullcityrising.com/2010/01/green-leaf-closes-on-university-drive.html

    Sean H’s comment on that post is interesting, and might help explain some of the recent quality issues reported by Sant and others:

    “That Indian location had serial ownership, which explains the variations in quality. Greenleaf was the most amazing restaurant when Anand was the owner and on site. He went to India in August to get married, was supposed to come back in January but apparently sold it instead. It was never the same after he left.”

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  • Sean Haugh said:

    The whole serial ownership thing was odd business model. My sweetie loves to talk up the staff at Indian restaurants. They’d take a partner, then sell out to the partner, who would take on a new partner, and so on. We were hoping it would hold out until Anand’s return when he would restore it to glory, but when we heard he wasn’t coming back we knew it was over. Still I’m surprised it closed so quickly, two weeks after we were introduced to the brand new last owner.

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