170 Algoma St. North
Masala is an Indian word referring to the mixing of spices, and the spices they use come mostly from India. Many of the vegetables they use are locally produced.
The owner of Masala Grille, Rama Agarwal, may have paved the way for cultural food diversity in Thunder Bay. When it opened in 2006 everyone was talking about it, arguing whether the food was too spicy or not spicy enough. Bets were placed on how long her restaurant would last. But Masala proved very popular and bespoke of something many doubted possible, namely that food diversity of the “ethnic” kind could expand beyond the Chinese restaurants that have a long history here. Shortly after Masala’s success was noticed, other restaurants opened with unique cuisines. And those that offered the standard pub and Canadian fair began adding unique side dishes and dinners never before seen in Thunder Bay.
Masala Grille offers both Indian and Thai cuisine in a large space with beautiful Indian décor where you can hear a variety of styles of Indian music. Three chefs, directly from India who worked at some of that country's top hotels, work the kitchen and occasionally use the only tandoori clay oven in town to cook specialty meats and fish for “Tandoori Nights.”
Very popular are the reasonably priced lunch and dinner buffets. The dinner buffet offers more choices of meats, yet the lunch buffet is quite good with many curry vegetable options with a chicken dish, along with naan bread, salads and yogurt.
If you’re not familiar with Indian or Thai food, then the descriptions are very helpful. The most popular Indian dishes are Butter Chicken, Murgh Dhaniwal Korma (boneless chicken in a cream cashew nut sauce), Beef Vindaloo (beef cooked in Goan spice), and Palak Makai Paneer (spinach, corn and cottage cheese cooked in an onion and tomato sauce).
The menu’s range is quite extensive, offering authentic Indian and Thai cuisine choices of chicken, beef, lamb, seafood, paneer, vegetables, noodle and rice dishes. Of course there is naan bread and other sides. The back of the menu has a Spice Guide that indicates whether the spices in the dishes are mild, medium, or hot. And Masala caters to customers who have any kind of allergies or preferences.
They have an extensive wine list of zinfandels, cabernets, Shiraz, cocktails, martinis, liqueurs, spirits, and beers, along with a good list of after-dinner hot drinks.
Deserts include ras malai, gulab jaman, gajar halwa, and kheer, with ice cream to boot. Most, as you can tell, are Indian deserts.
Masala Grille offers catering, take-out and delivery. They also sell quite a few handicrafts from India, small trinkets and large tapestries. They offer cooking classes in their own kitchen, limited to 12 people. Their patio for the summer is quite large. And the surroundings are quite beautiful as well.