Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cafe Spice Namaste, London

16 Prescot Street,
London E1 8AZ Map

Cyrus Todiwala is a regular on the various Saturday morning cookery programs and is the Executive Chef of the Cafe Spice Namaste restaurant in Aldgate. I've been wanting to go there for quite a while and the opportunity finally came up earlier this week.

The restaurant is about a five minute walk from Aldgate tube and seems to be an old school building or similar. We were seated in one of the corners and, although the room is fairly large, the atmosphere is still fairly intimate.

While we were waiting for our starters, we tucked into poppadoms with a selection of pickles. A couple of the pickles were really tasty. One of them I can only describe as a spicy Branston pickle, the other was quite fruity and tangy.

I started with a vegetarian selection of appetisers. These included a stuffed potato cake and Cyrus's famous Beetroot and Coconut Samosa. They were all really tasty, but I would certainly recommend the samosa.

For main course I had Paneer Shashlik Raiwalla. This is a dish very similar to ones I've had at other restaurants and is a combination of cheese, peppers, onions and tomatoes cooked on a skewer. One of the problems with this kind of dish, I've found, is because paneer cheese is fundamentally bland, when you have large chunks of it, the flavouring of it has to be good, otherwise the dish gets very boring. The spicing and flavouring of the cheese was absolutely spot on, and I could've eaten it all night.

To accompany it I had a dish from the specials menu that consisted of various pulses and nuts that was okay, and a dish with spiced pumpkin and aubergine that was much nicer.

My fellow diner had a barramundi dish that he said was better than the one he had at the Cinnamon Club.

The dessert menu arrived and it had a dish called Zafrani Creme Brulee, so I had no choice in the matter.

A short while later, a creme brulee turned up at our table. This was the first time I have ever had a creme brulee delivered that was on fire! It was quite spectacular as the blue flame licked its way across the dish. It tasted great too. The custard was of a nice consistency and it had a delicate cardamom flavour. It ranked 8.5.

The meal was very enjoyable and the service was very friendly and timely. There was always a waiter around when you needed one, but they weren't overly obtrusive during the meal, which was really good.

From my side of things, it was a little disappointing that there was only a single veggie main on the menu (wonderful though it was) although there were a host of veggie side dishes. Despite that minor niggle, I plan to go back sometime, hopefully in the not too distant future.

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