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[London, E1] Cafe Spice Namaste


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[London, E1] Cafe Spice Namaste

Harters | | Dec 19, 2012 08:55 AM

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.