Normally, I’m a big fan of a limited menu. A restaurant that tries to be all things to all people usually ends up being nothing to anyone, and a reasonably small menu often means that everything on there is done well.
Spice Bistro and Bar’s Southern-fried menu has one more thing going for it. It’s full of the food of my people — smothered chicken, pork chops, mustard greens and mac ‘n’ cheese. It seemed the perfect anecdote for a freezing, dreary Lundi Gras.
The Perkins Road restaurant is blessed with an enormous patio, that, on better days, would make a great happy-hour destination (along with the 50-cent martinis, which start at the lateish hour of 7 p.m.).
The problem with a limited menu arises when things aren’t available, meaning the menu goes from just right to too small in a hurry. Our group immediately picked a spinach dip ($8) for an appetizer. Unfortunately, our server returned to tell us the kitchen was unable to make it. The same would later be true for one of our three entrees, the Spice pork chop ($12).
Our second choices were a trio of sliders ($8) and the fried chicken and waffles ($13).
The sliders — three-bite, well-done beef burgers on brioche buns — were gone in a flash. The waffles were decadent, dripping with bacon-studded butter, but the chicken was on the dry side and needed a dip in the side of vanilla maple syrup, which the kitchen initially forgot to include.
The other diners in our group selected the smothered chicken ($13) — boneless thighs (the perfect piece of chicken for braising) served over rice with brown gravy — and stuffed shrimp ($15). The highest praise came for the generous sides of jambalaya, which were well-seasoned and bore all the hallmarks of a perfect roux.
Spice has a lot of potential: a cozy, convenient location; a right-sized menu that looks to be well thought out; but the execution, at least on this rainy night, was lacking.