Café Spice Namasté – review

Posted on October 1, 2012


Confit duck bhuna

Not your standard Indian, Café Spice Namasté is a retro-tastic restaurant with food far outshining the decor.

We all know about my love for Masterchef, and seeing Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala’s restaurant appear on it prompted me to check it out. That and the fact that it’s not as expensive as you’d expect for a restaurant off the tellybox – mains around £15.

You can’t help but be overwhelmed by orange when you go to Café Spice Namasté. In a large, high-ceilinged building, the restaurant is filled with bright (perhaps garish) decorations. It is a little over-the-top, but to me it felt far less stuffy than some restaurants – many Indian restaurants proudly display white tablecloths despite their food not being up to scratch, so something more interesting was welcome. And Cyrus was wandering around the restaurant while we were there (mild starstruck-dom).

Cafe Spice Namaste

Wine was perhaps the simplest thing to choose (and you’ll see why shortly), starting around £22 a bottle. My partner and I had the cheapest white, the Sauvignon Blanc, Laroche Loire, and it was perfectly lovely. Plenty of expensive options are included for those with looser purse strings than I.

So, the food. This is not a simple affair. My main tip is this: read the menu before you go. It is hugely extensive with wonderful descriptions of dishes and their history running to a paragraph long for each. But this is a bit overwhelming if you’re sitting in the restaurant trying to decide between a daily special and finding out if Mr Todiwala’s makhani is different to your local curry house’s.

We started with papad (pappadum) for two with pickles. They brought two pappadums each (listed as 70p per person, but they brought four when we asked for two then charged us £2.80 – I know it’s pennies, but that’s a little sneaky) and a few different pickles. Some were lovely, but the bitterness and sourness of the lemon pickle left our eyes watering. These are sold at the restaurant so you can pick up a jar if you find a favourite.

Murghi ni curry nay papaeto

To stop ourselves ordering every starter available, we want for the Café Spice starters for two. Nine mini starters arrived on one plate, two of each, spanning veggie treats such as a poori – a puffed rice creation that felt a little like sticky Rice Krispies but tasted amazing – to salmon and venison tikkas, which were melt-in-the-mouth delicious. I could happily have eaten this whole starter platter as a main by myself.

Hoping to do a split-share affair (as you do in an Indian), my partner and I ordered the confit duck bhuna (did three words ever sound so good together?) and the murghi ni curry nay papaeto (a chicken and nut-based affair). Sadly they came on properly separate plates so we had to do a bit of a swap halfway through. We also got an extra rice, naan and veggie side dish, all of which were lovely but completely unnecessary as we were stuffed.

The duck was so soft and in a really deep, flavourful sauce. It was very intense and it might be hard to eat it alone as it was really rich, but I couldn’t fault the taste. The chicken was amazing too – a whole chicken breast on the bone, accompanied by potatoes (which I’m usually suspicious of in a curry, but it seemed to work). Rich but not too much, creamy but not stodgy, I could have eaten this all day.

We used my Taste card and the bill for two came to £71.59 (using a two-for-one on each course). It is definitely pricier than your average Indian, but it is a completely different experience – no greasy curries and dripping rice here. I would absolutely recommend it for a special meal, and the world seems to agree with me since it was almost full at 7:30pm on a Monday.

The most devastating thing was that we had no room for dessert. That and I couldn’t bring myself to ask for a doggy bag.

Cafe Spice Namaste | 16 Prescot Street, London E1 8AZ | 0207 4889242

Posted in: cuisine, review