27 years ago I took the brave step of moving from Yorkshire to work in the Stepney DSS office in London’s East End. On my first day, I met Roy and after a whirlwind romance, we moved into together. Having finally got married last year (we’re not one to rush into things), we needed somewhere appropriate to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and could think of nowhere better than our old office, now an upmarket Indian called “Cafe Spice Namaste”:http://www.cafespice.co.uk/#!homepage/mainPage with chef Cyrus Todiwala.
We chose a table with the best view of the whole office, sorry restaurant. The décor was outstanding with bright colours, superb stained glass windows and large pots of sculpture flowers on the walls.
Whilst I was a fairly junior manager at the time, I realised how big my office had been as it is now the ladies, gents and disabled loo. How times have changed, even the CEO in my old organisation didn’t have their own office.
We started with a couple of papad (or as the “menu”:http://media.wix.com/ugd/2af55f_5e0cb9d0cdf948f1a3155702c993c9d5.pdf informed, pappadum (sic) as they’re known in the UK) and a chutney tray: the chutneys and pickles are also on sale in the restaurant. We shared a starter of dahi saev batata poori – little round crisp shells filled with potato with various spicy bits on top. We were glad we’d shared, as six of them proved to be a more than substantial nibble.
There was a good range of mains (£15 and £20) with a red chilli symbol denoting the spiciness of the dishes which all had elaborate descriptions not just of what the dish was and the ingredients, but a little history.
I learned that my pork vindaloo (despite two chillies) was not the mind blowing version eaten in the UK but a Portugese dish where the pork was pickled in white wine vinegar and garlic. It was exceptional: the sauce was thick and spicy and the organic meat, produced by Elizabeth Batemen in the Chiltern Hill, very tender.
There were 10 huge prawns in Roy’s Goan curry which were beautifully cooked and tender. The sauce was lighter and thinner than mine, but aromatic and absolutely delicious. This was served with organic unpolished red kernel rice which had huge grains.
A garlic naan was large, thick and fluffy and perfect for mopping up the sauces.
I’m not normally a pudding person particularly in an Indian restaurant, but we wanted to linger and reminisce, so we shared three blobs of apricot ice cream served on apricot puree.
The “wine list”:http://media.wix.com/ugd/2af55f_2366e6411b654e448bc008df4c86bd41.pdf was reasonable and we had a French Sauvignon Blanc (apparently the zippy flavours of SB are ideal with Indian food) at £24.50.
Earlier in the day, I’d posted a couple of photos on my “Facebook Page”:https://www.facebook.com/helen.jackson.96343 of the two of us in 1989 both in the office. I showed the waitress who was fascinated and she kept disappearing off with the phone to show the kitchen staff. At the end of our meal we were presented with complimentary glasses of fizz.
All in all, it was a fabulous lunch and a fitting way to celebrate love at first sight.
The only downside to this restaurant, is location. It is in a Grade 2 listed building (a former court house) but now surrounded by tall, modern office blocks and the clientele reflects its city location (although it is relatively close to Tower Bridge). There are around 12 steep steps to the front door.