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JaxSpice: Big flavor, bigger prices

This article expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication. Readers are encouraged to comment or submit a Letter to the Editor to share their opinions. To submit a Letter to the Editor, follow the instructions here.

Don’t worry, y’all- I’m back! I’ve had plenty of time to prepare my palate (and wallet) for a place I’ve been particularly excited about—JaxSpice. 

I started getting into Indian food when I came to UNF, mainly in the form of frozen butter chicken and tikka masala. After scoping out Jacksonville’s Indian scene on Yelp, JaxSpice came up as a top destination. I grabbed my roommate and headed over to Jacksonville Beach to see for myself.

JaxSpice calls itself an upscale restaurant, but the atmosphere wasn’t particularly refined. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, and my roommate was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but neither of us were underdressed. In fact, almost no one was wearing formalwear. One man, fresh off of work, even walked in with his medical scrubs on.

That’s not to say the dining room was bad. It was clean, spacious and had plenty of seating. A large bar was the centerpiece of the room. Booths were placed around the perimeter, accompanied by plenty of tables and chairs. The walls were decorated with a pale gold wallpaper and Hindu iconography. The lighting was slightly dark and made for an inviting experience.

The dining room was sparsely decorated, but still welcoming. (Ethan Leckie)

Our waitress was kind, quick and attentive to our water glasses; perfect service, I’ll say. When I asked for a menu suggestion, she gave me a great recommendation (don’t worry, I’ll cover the food soon).

When ordering dishes, you choose the type of meal (biryani, curry, etc.) and protein (chicken, lamb, etc.). Prices are determined by which protein you choose for your meal.

In terms of the food, I came in with few expectations; after all, my only experience with Indian food had been frozen meals from Publix. I had a vague idea of how the food would taste, but I knew that anything freshly-made would be far better than what I had eaten before.

All entrees at JaxSpice are served family style, so be sure to bring your friends and family, or be prepared for leftovers.
(Ethan Leckie)

As suggested by our waitress, I ordered lamb biryani and garlic naan, and my roommate ordered chicken and vegetable korma with puri, a fried bread similar to naan.

The biryani was delicious. The spices were fragrant and gave me the signature Indian flavor I was looking for, and the fried onions were also a nice touch. The lamb wasn’t as tender as I hoped, but it was still a great option, although I hoped to have more meat in the dish. A few heaping spoonfuls were all I needed before my hunger was sated. 

The biryani was also served with raita, a yogurt sauce our waitress dubbed “Indian ranch.” The raita cut through the biryani’s spice like blue cheese on buffalo wings. A great addition to the dish, all in all.

The garlic naan was an amazing, starchy sidekick to my biryani, and was the perfect tool to scoop up the leftover morsels on my plate. It was thin, chewy and full of garlic and coriander. I especially loved the butter melted on top, which gave a nutty, salty contribution to this divine carbohydrate. Keto should be abolished.

I had a few bites of my roommate’s chicken and vegetable korma. I wasn’t a huge fan of its sweetness, but the chicken was melt-in-your-mouth tender. I couldn’t make out what the vegetables were, but their texture was very mushy and unappealing. The rice it was served on top of was perfectly fine; it’s hard to screw up rice. I was glad I ordered the biryani, though.

I also snuck a bite of the puri as well, but there wasn’t much to write about there. The bread was wheatier and puffier, and had very little flavor to it. It was also pretty oily, but nothing too bad overall. Just fried bread, nothing to see here, folks.

My biggest gripe had to be the prices (mom, you can stop reading here). Remember how I said that JaxSpice didn’t seem very upscale? Well, I think they were talking about their upscale prices. Now, I have to add that each entree is served family-style (don’t worry- I wasn’t stealing my roommate’s food without cause), but even then the prices were pretty high for a college budget. Our check ended up being around $36 per person- definitely not something I’ll do again. At least we have plenty of leftovers.

The bar was quite large and had a wide selection of beers both foreign and domestic.
(Ethan Leckie)

So, check it or chuck it? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. If you want some good Indian food, look no further—this place serves that and then some. However, if you’re trying to stay within your budget, wait until the parents are in town to take you, or come prepared to stay and do some dishes.

JaxSpice Indian Restaurant and Bar (Jacksonville Beach)

Address: 311 3rd St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Dinner: 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m.

Closed Mondays

Website: https://www.jaxspice.com/location/jaxspice-jacksonville-beach/                

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About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie
Ethan Leckie, Enterprise Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Enterprise Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces - he loves to talk about them!

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