Eat Out critic Hennie Fisher visits one of the capital city’s latest additions, Spice – The Indian Kitchen, to find complex flavours, traditional breads and treats from the tandoor oven.
Best for: Elegant lunches and dinners with layers of flavour
Price: Average main course is R85
Serves: Indian cuisine
Star rating: Food 4, service 4, ambience 4
A small basket of freshly fried poppadums, rolled up in cones the way it’s done in India, comes to the table soon after you’re seated, with a fresh mint sambal, lemon pickle and a sweet fruit sambal. It’s a wonderful idea to have a starter platter to share, and at Spice you can choose any five options to make up a very affordable platter. Pakora (vegetables or onions dipped in gram flour and deep fried) are flavourful and tasty, and will disappear in a few hungry gulps. Other starters to try are paneer chilli or calamari chilli, or the delicious prawn-and-tomato combo.
Main courses include many dishes from the tandoor oven. If you’re not completely versed in ordering Indian food, try the special platter, which comprises a selection of delicious meat items baked in the tandoor. If you’re more adventurous, recommended dishes are the chicken dal, made with yellow lentils and traditional South-Indian-style madras chicken; lamb vindaloo, a hearty dish with potatoes and a thick gravy; and lamb badami, which is flavourful and rich, made with cashews and almond. Aloo gobi matar of cauliflower, potatoes and peas is served in a classic copper degchi on a smart little burner, as are all the other ‘saucy’ main-course items. Of course, Spice does also serve several biryanis, but the bunny chows and roti rolls are what entice the lunch crowd to return.
Don’t leave without having one of the delicious desserts: gulab jamun; a wonderful rice kheer pudding; gajar halwa; ice cream with mango; or delicious rasgulla, sweetened cottage cheese dumplings in a sugar syrup.
The liquor licence has not yet been finalised, so for the time being there are soft drinks, coffees and good cappuccino. It would be nice to be able to sip on a Bombay crush, a lassi or a piyush, though.
Spice’s co-owner Bhuvan Nijhawan and his staff are totally hands on, and all the dining-room staff are super efficient, creating a relaxed and pleasurable experience. Everyone is very amenable to explaining menu items in detail and making suggestions. Even though the restaurant is located inside a mall, the architects cleverly left the side of the building open, so there’s a sense of having a view outside.
The Lynnridge Mall has recently undergone extensive renovations, and now boasts various restaurants and coffee shops. Spice is located in a smallish space at one end of the mall, and has a few tables outside, which increases not only the capacity but also the sense of lively activity in the centre. The interior can be described as modern Indian, with laser-cut wooden panels on the walls doubling as light installations. Cream is the predominant colour, with a little bit of gold in the overlays and under-plates, picked up in the upholstered chairs in black with an ornate flower design. At the back of the restaurant there is a small service area with the rest of the inside space left over to tables.
Most Indian restaurants pride themselves on their Indian breads. Spice offers all the usual suspects such as plain naan, butter naan, garlic-chilli naan, and, simplest but always the best, roghni naan with sesame seeds and butter. If you’re not scared of spoiling your appetite, try the cheese-stuffed version or the Kashmiri naan with cheese, cashew nuts, raisins and mixed dried fruit. The take-out menu is extensive, and what better way to experience Indian food at home than to get a whole pile of delicious warm Indian breads and a great selection of starters?
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
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