Having booked our place at The Spice Club months ago, we were all really excited about going. We had heard only excellent things about their deliciously authentic home-cooked Indian food and knew we were in for a good night.
On arrival we were warmly welcomed by Monica and Anita and shown to our beautifully laid table where ornamental elephants displayed our name cards. A lovely touch!
We met the other guests on our table and any feelings of shyness soon disappeared as soon as Steve noticed that he recognised one of our fellow diners - Leeds-based foodie and blogger Jini (check out Munchy Medic here) from the previous night's One Show feature on the Clandestine Cake Club! Cue me asking "Are you off the telly?" and the banter began!
A glance at the menu and everything sounded delicious. We started off our meal with a delicious Homestyle Indian Lemonade - spiced, sweet and fragrant. Monica then came in and gave a really heartfelt introduction, explaining how our lovingly-cooked vegetarian Punjabi meal would consist of traditional family recipes handed down through the generations. Cue even more giddiness and excitement.
The delicious starter of Pyaaz Pakora was then brought out looking lovely.
These spiced fritters were delicious - perfectly crispy and very moreish - it was hard to pace myself with these delights as I wanted to just hoover them up. The tamarind chutney and mint yogurt drizzled over them was the perfect accompaniment.
After Jeni and I had gone to have a nosy in the kitchen to see where all the magic happens (amazingly clean and tidy!) our mains were brought out. There was an excellent selection of different dishes in communal serving bowls for us to share out as a table which was really nice as it added to the sociable element of the Spice Club experience.
There was a great selection of mains including Shahi Kofta Massala, Paneer Mattar, Band Gobi Aloo and Pindey Cholay served with Carrot Raita, fresh chapattis, rice and salad.
The mains were excellent and went beautifully with the perfectly cooked rice, freshly-made chapattis and the refreshing Raita. I absolutely loved every dish but I think the definite favourites around the table were the Shahi Kofta Massala and Paneer Mattar. The crispy Kofta were amazing - pleasing all the meat eaters and veggies alike with their perfect texture and beautifully rich onion and tomato sauce. The homemade paneer was unlike any other paneer I'd tried before - so smooth and soft, and not at all chewy. I also really enjoyed the flavoursome Band Gobi Aloo and Pindey Cholay, although the latter wasn't quite as popular as the other dishes which meant I got to eat loads of it - yay.
The whole time we were eating our mains, our hosts were so lovely and attentive, checking if we wanted seconds of anything and bringing us what seemed like endless hot chapattis which we gratefully received.
Next up was a beautifully-presented dessert of Strawberry and Mango Sorbet. Not only did it look great but it tasted fantastic too. The mango sorbet was smooth and fruity and was a great combination with the yogurt and sweet strawberry sorbet. There was a really lovely crunch in there too from some crumbled biscuit, and it was great to see the moment that everyone around the table got to the basil leaf in their dessert as everyone suddenly went "Ooh!"
Rounding off the meal was a lovely cup of traditional Indian Elaichi Tea with a little Indian biscuit. I was such a greedy idiot for deciding I would "just try a corner" of the biscuit, but it was so crumbly, buttery and delicious I had to finish it off before I got my tea.
Still, the tea was lovely - milky with subtle flavours of cardamom. A really lovely way to end the meal.
So I have to say the evening at The Spice Club did not disappoint! Having heard such great things we had gone with really high expectations and the food really impressed us. However, it wasn't only the food that we loved, the atmosphere created by our hosts was really excellent - we all felt so happy and relaxed that we really just had a lot of fun! I can't remember the last time I had so much fun in a restaurant so if you like eating out, a trip to The Spice Club is a must. We really want to thank Monica and her family for inviting us into her home and showing us such a good time, as Bailey wrote in the guest book, The Spice Club "puts 99% of restaurants to shame" and is a great night out not to be missed!