I was invited to try out the new Bento Box lunch at Spice Market Restaurant, which is located in the W Hotel in Midtown. It was a bright, sunny day as I made my way into the crowded Colony Square parking deck. I could have valeted but I hate valet, so I chose to park in the deck, thinking it would still be cheaper than the $6 mandatory valet. Have you picked up on my foreshadowing yet?
But back to lunch. I walked through the food court of colony square and made my way into the W Hotel. The entrance to Spice Market is a bit awkward. You must walk around the staircase that leads to Whiskey Park – the hotel bar, and Spice Market is around back.
Once inside, I was greeted by the hostess who sat us at a comfy table with a great view of the entire restaurant. The Asian influenced Spice Market exudes an atmosphere of relaxation and peacefulness.
So back to the bento box lunch. The idea is that you can have a tasty, hearty lunch in an upscale atmosphere in a jiffy (20 minute express lunch is what’s noted on their menu). Here’s the deal: they offer a bento box lunch for $16 per person. The lunch comes with chicken coconut soup, choice of salad, appetizer (meat skewer), entree, and dessert (ice cream or sorbet). And you are supposed to be able to get in and out quickly. I’m sure you can but we were having a leisurely lunch, so didn’t rush the service or enjoyment of our lunch. Or watch the clock.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lentil crackers with dipping sauce. Think of it as an Asian “chips and salsa.” But like the best salsa you’ve ever had. It is spiced just right, making my nose run but not so much so that I can’t enjoy it. We devoured 2 of the small bowls of chips with “salsa.”
I could have easily started on another bowl, but thought better of it in order to save room for the Bento Box lunch. Shortly after, our lunches arrived. I loved the avocado and tempura fried onion salad, definitely different but a great start. My chicken coconut soup was peppered right – I felt the burn in the back of my throat as it went down, but there was a heavy hand with the salt, which is too bad, because chicken coconut soup is a must-have at any Thai restaurant for me.
Moving on to my lamb skewers, I did like them but was surprised the taste was more Mediterranean and I was expecting more Asian spices. The beef skewers were more Asian served with a creamy basil sauce. Beef was the better choice of the two, as it ended up being more flavorful than the lamb.
For mains, neither of us could resist the cod. Other choices were salmon or chicken curry. The round filet was presented on a bed of Malaysian chili sauce and I hear it is a specialty of the restaurant. It was perfectly prepared and just the right portion.
At this point, I was ready to wrap it up but had forgotten about our sorbet dessert. The manager actually brought us a specialty – exotic fruits in coconut ice cream. Think mango, papaya and pommegranite seeds. Oh, how absolutely delicious. They thoughtfully boxed our ice cream for us as there was no way, we’d be able to eat it after the large bowl of this exquisite dessert.
So, I know this is supposed to be a quick, in and out lunch, but honestly, it is so relaxing in Spice Market, you won’t want to leave. I didn’t. But I did. And upon leaving the parking lot I was thrust back into reality – $10.50 to park my car for 1.5 hours. Whaaaa??? Yep, that’s right. Colony Square has complimentary parking after 6 pm but before then they are gonna stick it to you.
I thought Spice Market’s Bento Box lunch is very tasty and offers a lot of bang for your buck. My feeling is the Bento Box is a great option if you work nearby and can walk to Colony Square. Or, if you are a hotel guest attending a conference and don’t want the crappy box lunch, slip away to Spice Market and opt for the Bento box. But paying over 10 bucks for parking? At lunch? Um, no thanks. There is the hotel valet for $6, FYI, but still not my cup of chai…err..tea.
188 14th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
404 549 5450