Monday 19 May 2008

Spice Lounge – Petersfield, 17/05/08

The restaurant sometimes feels like the epitome of the tempremental Great British curry house. It’s snug and warm inside, with an unpretentious demeanour that occasionally seems rather curious. The waiters generally provide decent service, though prolonged gaps between courses are not unknown, and for the most part the kitchen turns out tasty curries but doesn’t always show a dab hand with spice. With so many alternatives available to me reasons I eat here regularly are: 1) I know what to order and what not to order 2) Firuz the manager is a true gentleman and makes diners feel very welcome.

Eating in following an afternoon on Southsea common watching the FA Cup final, I enjoyed the typical Spice Lounge experience. The atmosphere was informal and homely, Firuz was characteristically kind and generous. Food wise ‘Ayre Biran’ was a tasteless, pan fried cutlet of white fish with obligatory salad whereas ‘Achari Murgh’, made with mango chutney, lime pickle, tomatoes and fruity fennel was full of flavour and spiked with chilli powder.

Their interpretations of traditional Indian and Bangladeshi fare are really bastardisations yet they work fine and who except for monomaniacs like me notices anyway? The ‘Achari’, the ‘Sali Boti’ – made with coconut, almond and tomato puree, rich and lovely like a luxury Korma – the ‘Chilli Mossala’, which makes clever use of ready made green chilli pickle are three examples. Thing is GB curry is a cuisine in itself and if that’s what you’re after – it probably is – then the Spice Lounge is almost as good as any. Vegetables can be bland (not Saturday’s earthy Chana Masala though) but side and main dishes alike are always well presented, rice and breads are perfectly acceptable.

In summary, I love the place for all its little imperfections. Oh and it’s pretty good value too.





Willp2328 rating: 6.5/10

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