It’s not often I get to enjoy one of my favourite cuisines – Indian food – as my husband dislikes it, but when one of my besties came to stay the night recently, I saw it as the ideal excuse to test out a new Indian restaurant that had opened down the road from me. Granted, it’s been around for nearly a year now, but that still counts as relatively new to me! Ginger Spice, situated on Brentwood Road, looked decadent and inviting, and I couldn’t wait to test out the food.
Upon entering, it was like going into an opulent and expensive city lounge. Decorated in tones of caramel like gold, cream and a dark, glossy brown, the restaurant was much larger than I anticipated, reaching quite far back to house numerous tables and booths. At the front of the restaurant was a bar area with squidgy sofa seating – no doubt for the takeaway side of the business – however this led into the main seating area. With dripping chandeliers cascading scenic and atmospheric lighting, each table had a great amount of privacy. The ones situated in the centre of the room were housed in large, circular booths, the seats richly furnished in gold cushioning. The tables near the edges had one side utilising soft sofa seating, the other usual dining chairs. What I liked however was that the tables were separated by a curtains of hanging clear beads. This not only allowed you to still enjoy the buzz of the restaurant, but it meant you still felt like you had plenty of space and light without any of it being invaded by nearby diners. I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely and lush the interior was, and I instantly felt like I had stepped into the lap of luxury.
No Indian dining experience is complete without crunching your way through numerous papadums before you place your order. Although papadums are much of a muchness, I was rather impressed with the selection of dips that accompanied them, some of which I hadn’t tried before. There was the usual raw onion mix and everyone’s favourite the mango chutney. There was also the spicy lime pickle, the fresh zing of lime a complete juxtaposition to the fiery heat in the after burn. As well as the soothing, creamy mint sauce, there was also a new flavour that seemed to be based on desiccated coconut and was a vibrant red colour. With a grainy texture and a sweet flavour, I enjoyed it despite not being a coconut fan.
Selecting a bottle of Granfort Chardonnay to enjoy with our meal, we began by picking our starters. Being the indecisive bean that I am, I chose the Three Way Starter for £3.65, which consisted of a chicken kebab, meat samosa and a paneer bite, garnished with salad and a wedge of zingy lemon. The chicken kebab was like a mini sheek kebab, the flavour peppered with the gentle hue of spices, while the meat samosa was a small, flaky pastry triangle that was filled with minced lamb, flavoured with vegetables and spices. The paneer bite was a new one on me – this was a fresh chilli stuffed with the classic Indian cheese, covered in breadcrumbs and then fried. The different textures of each bite were lovely and the flavour combo really worked too. I really liked the pick and mix style of this starter, that allowed me to sample a few different bits off the menu without filling me up too much. It was an ideal size and great to whet the appetite.
Main course was definitely a tough choice. Not having Indian food often means I get in to greedy mode whenever I am confronted by an Indian menu! I decided that since I was somewhere new, I would also try something rather than my usual chicken tikka masala, so I instead opted for the Ginger Special, from their Signature Dishes selection. Exclusive to the restaurant, this was basically chicken breast, stuffed with minced meat and then charcoal grilled. The meat was then topped with a thick sauce made from garlic, ginger, cumin, green chilli peppers and onions, as well as almond and coconut. One of my favourite parts of Indian food is the abundant sauce to dunk my naan bread in, so I made sure to ask the waiter how much sauce came with the dish – he said I could order it ‘extra saucy’ so I did, and it turned out to be the perfect amount of sauce. I really loved this dish – the flavours married together beautifully. I would say the onion is a prominent texture of the sauce, as it was sliced into strips, however the taste the onion blended nicely in the sauce. It did taste quite similar to a tikka masala sauce and was the same vivid orange in colour, but I confess I loved the originality of stuffing the chicken with mince – this meant my meat was served in thick, cylindrical cigars and drenched in sauce, just how I like it. The chicken was nicely looked so it was juicy and tender, while the mince had a great flavour to it that worked so well with the chicken.
To go with my main dish, we shared a saag paneer, as who can resist cheesy spinach? I also selected pilau rice and a garlic naan. I have to say, this naan bread was probably the best naan I have every eaten – it was so doughy and soft, yet also light to eat and with a usefully crisp bottom to help scoop up your sauce. The portion sizes also get a thumbs up from me. Indian meals never usually defeat me, yet this is probably the only occasion where I couldn’t eat all my naan. Next time, it won’t be so lucky I assure you!
After our meal, we were offered complimentary drinks on the house as an added extra – a pleasant surprise, I ordered a Baileys to finish my meal with something sweet and creamy. Coming to just under £70 for two courses and a bottle of wine for two people, I would most definitely eat there again – the food is just too fantastic not to. We had one waiter at first who had the personality of a rock – he actually came across incredibly rude with sullen silences, performing his duties as a formality – however the other staff who waited on us were chatty, talkative and friendly, so I can only assume there is one dud in the bunch.
I enjoyed Ginger Spice so much I have actually booked one of my birthday celebratory meals there, so I am looking forward to tackling the delicious menu again soon!