SPICEKLUB: INDIAN VEGETARIAN DONE DIFFERENTLY

I am a fussy carnivore. I love Indian food. I enjoy experimentation when it comes to food. My date with SpiceKlub has been postponed two time (jinxed I thought) but it finally happened over the weekend (Friday).

So first things first – I decided to call to ask if I needed to make a reservation and I was told that there were two seatings – 12.30pm and 2.30pm… so after frantic calls to my two ‘enjoy-a-lie-in-at-the-weekend’ friends we settled for the 12.30pm slot. As usual I arrived on time and I my first thought was why the booking was necessary. My second immediate thought was – I love how this restaurant is designed. Totally unrelated thoughts! We got a table next to the kitchen – BAD BAD seating position! (more on that later)

As you walk in one wall to the left is done up dramatically in beautiful colours in a geometric design. On the right, rope dyed in the colours of the raindow zig-zag against the wall. The grey-ish walls automatically brighten up thanks to these. Décor wise – honestly the restaurant is very tastefully done.

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Food-wise SpiceKlub is a pure vegetarian Indian restaurant that has gone the Molecular Gastronomy way (Dubai seems to be thriving on MG in varying degrees of gimmicky-ness and price points at the moment – Jodhpur, Tresind, Carnival, Jaan, Farsi Café….). It turns out Bombay already has a SpiceKlub (did not know that which makes me realize that I have lived in Dubai for a very long time) and the Dubai one is its first international outlet.

When it came to our drinks – when there is kalakhatta on the menu – I cannot look beyondimg_6480 it. So we (two of us – and neither of us would even consider anything else to try) ordered the Kalakhatta Mojito (would recommend stirring it and sipping it through a straw as that much-needed-masala is at the bottom of the glass) – the taste of this drink took me right back to my childhood but in a more ‘grown-up’ avatar.

My other more ‘sensible’ friend went for something different – but yet has the same nostalgic memory of our younger days. She ordered the Gola (crushed ice made to resemble a sort of lollipop which is then dipped in flavours) – came in quite a cute cutting chai tray with 4 golas and 4 assorted non-alcoholic flavours – Orange, Curaçao, Rose and Kalakhatta. We loved the Orange and Kalakhatta, the Curaçao was interesting but we defiantly did not enjoy the Rose.

SUGGESTION: What we all unanimously agreed on is that Golas should be on the dessert menu (and not in the drinks section). Drinks are meant to be sipped and enjoyed over a period of time – atleast that’s what I like to do. The Golas because of the ice component, has to be finished within a shorter period of time – more like food – dive into it before it gets cold – but in the case of the golas – before it melts..

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For starters we had the Pav Bhaji Fondue – cheese pav bhaji transformed into a mousse topped with chopped onion and accompanied by lightly toasted bread. This popular Indian street food served was totally unlike what I had expected. At first taste the mousse felt chalky – but the more you dove into the fondue pot the less so it felt.. the spice level and flavours were absolutely delightful and we stopped short of putting our fingers in to clean out the pot (to be fair, it was just me).

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We then debated whether to go for another starter or straight for the mains. We settled on the latter. Regular North Indian dishes mark the mains – and we went for the Chole and this time, each of us went for a different bread – Wholewheat Butter Roti, Garlic Chilli Butter Naan and Chilli Cheese Garlic Butter Naan.  Must make a special mention that they do have a Gluten free option in the bread section. This dish was simple, homemade and hit just the right notes.

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By now, I believe it was 2.30 and we were still sat there – stuffing ourselves, catching up that we failed to notice when the restaurant started filling up. So the reservations did make sense for the 2.30pm slot. But it was not that busy that the servers hurried us up as they needed the table. And we continued our catch-up session.

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It was dessert time, and we all were too full to think of dessert. But as we got to stretch our lunch longer than the 2 hour prescribed, we made space for dessert which we decided to share. A dessert called Soap Cake caught my fancy – not only for its name but because it was choloate (and you know me and chocolate). The Soap Cake was described to us by the server as a chocolate cake surrounded by dairy foam. Not knowing what to expect we ordered it. Presentation wise it was absolutely brilliant. Exciteldly we three picked up our spoons to dig in only to find that the chocolate bar/cake would not break (the server told us that we had to hold it in our had and bite into it which did not quite make sense when he knew we were sharing it) – so we did the next best thing – asked for a knife and butchered the soap into smaller more edible pieces … and then we cleaned it out!!! Completely!

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The bill was subtly put on our table at 4pm when we got the hint that it was time for us to leave and the restaurant to shut.

ONLY DISSAPOINTMENT: Now back to our seating position near the kitchen. Just outside the kitchen doors which was where we were sat seemed to be the ‘argument’ meeting point for the servers. They stood and argued on-and-off which even got my frined rattle enough to want to get up and sort the issue out for them. Another issue was servers showing their displeasure to each other in front of customers. I believe all this should be handled behind closed door, and definitely outside of the hearing of customers.

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I will definitely go back – I have so many more things I would love to try. Not sure of the pani puri though – as cool and gimmicky as it looked, it did not look like the easiest to manoeuvre – test tubes, syringes etc. But there are so many other things on the menu that have caught my fancy – for starters I have my sight on the galouti kebab, vada pav and the dahi vada. For mains it is the rajma masala and the soya kheema lifafa. Totally recommend SpiceKub to all vegetarians looking for newness and for all carnivores who fancy a change of pace.

Location: SpiceKlub, Opposite Aster Hospital and Gazebo, Near Sharaf DG, Kuwait Street, Mankhool, Dubai. Tel: +971 4 393 1233 Open from 12.30 – 4 pm and from 6:30 – 11:30PM

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