[London, E1] Cafe Spice Namaste
We’d probably never have picked this place had it not been for its appearance on a recent episode of Masterchef. There just seemed to something of an elegance to the food. So, perhaps some proof that good PR works wonders – if it can pull in a couple of punters from 200 miles away, what must it have done for local business.
So, we’d booked ages ago. And, in that, lies my only gripe with the restaurant. I have this hope with places that, if you’ve been arsed enough to make a commitment weeks ago, then they should be arsed enough to give you a decent table. But, so often they don’t. Now, it wasn’t the worst table in the room – the one next to the gents’ bogs. But it was second worst – tucked away in a corner, next to the coat racks and the waiters’ station. Whinge ends.......
Food was damn good. The menu makes a big thing of the fact that the chef is a Parsee and, as such, Parsee dishes are prepared “properly”. So, it seemed to me that was what I should order. A starter of king prawns patia was excellent. Several delicious and perfectly cooked prawns in a thick, well spiced sauce – sweet from jaggery and a background sharpness from tamarind. The only incongruous item here was the slices of toasted ciabatta but, even then, it actually seemed to work.
I followed this with lamb dhaansaak – good tender lamb and a balanced sauce with no spice jarring or masking the overall flavour of the dish. It comes, apparently traditionally, with an onion salad and brown onion rice. I enjoyed this a lot.
The menu is light on vegetarian options which is the direction my partner often goes in at Indian restaurants. So, she was quite chuffed to see a thali on offer. There was a dish of okra – punchy with chilli and a good texture with some bite in the vegetables; a comforting daal; some beetroot and a saag aloo. All pretty good (I managed to get a taste). There was an outstandingly good beetroot samosa – full of flavour, well spiced and not a hint of oiliness from the frying – I tried to get a taste of this as well, but no bloody chance. For the accompaniments – naan, rice, a handful of mini-pappads and a fairly straightforward raita. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable tray of food.
We often pass on desserts, particularly in asian restaurants but thought we’d have a try at the kulfi. I went with a selection of mini-versions – rose, vanilla, pistachio, chocolate and another I can’t recall, while herself went with the full-sized version of the pistachio. It’ll be fair to say that I enjoyed this more than she did but, then, I think I often have the sweeter tooth.
Such a shame this place isn’t 200 miles north. We’d be regulars.
Keep meaning to visit, still haven't. Have met Todiwala at food festivals few times, very gregarious indeed. And he knows family friend of my parents, also parsee, she has shared some of her recipes on my mum's recipe website (Mamta's Kitchen). Given how I love her food, I want to try his...