LONDON | Us Brits love a good curry, and Indian food is one of the UK’s most popular cuisines. There are more Indian food restaurants than fast food eateries across England, and many consider chicken tikka masala to be our national dish. While we usually avoid the tourist focused Indian restaurants on Brick Lane, we recently found ourselves in the area at City Spice, which has won a slew of awards since changing management in 2015, and has a reputation as being one of the better spots on the strip.
With 110 covers over 2 floors, City Spice is one of the largest restaurants on Brick Lane. It offers contemporary Indian cuisine, with a menu full of the usual suspects like tikkas, masalas and jalfrezis, as well as a separate vegan menu which captures East London’s zeitgest and sets them apart from its competitors. For drinks, it’s a rich selection of beers, wines, and spirits, and you can BYO booze if you like. Upon entrance we were greeted with a warm smile by City Spice’s owner, Abdul Ahad. It’s Friday evening and the restaurant is heaving with groups of hungry diners. The understated yet homely decor along with the spicy aroma offers a sense of comfort and authenticity.
Our charming waiter started us off with a portion of crispy papadums and several small bowls bright, vibrant, colourful dishes. This included a mango chutney, crumbled paneer cheese and a bitter zingy yet tasty pickle chutney. Soon after we were served delicious, tender spring lamb chops, marinated with fresh ginger, garlic, herbs, yogurt and ground spices, slow cooked in the tandoor. They say first impressions count and this was a good start. We were drooling with anticipation of what was to come next.
I opted for the duck tikka jalfrezi, mushroom naan, and pilau rice, while my guest opted for the peshwari naan, stuffed with almonds and coconuts, and a prawn jalfrezi. Both curries arrived in a stylish white ceramic bowl – heavy, meaty and shimmering with flavours oscillating from intense to smoky. Both packed with flavour. A big thumbs up. The naan breads were served warm, pillowy and firm. The mushroom naan was heavenly while the peshwari naan had the perfect balance of sweet and savoury.
By the time dessert came, we were beyond carbed up but we weren’t so ready to quit. The stunning creamy coconut ice cream was a light refresher and the perfect finish to cool off this heated food marathon.
If you find yourself on Brick Lane and want some tasty food, we can safely say that City Spice is a cut above the rest of the Indian food spots in the area.
138 Brick Lane
London E1 6RU
Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 11:00pm