Spice Express, Church Road: Review

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It can be hard to find truly great Chinese and Indian takeaways. On the Chinese front, we’ll be sticking to the poorly named but amazing Red Hot Goodies unless something really amazing tempts us away…and in terms of Indian food, Spice Express will be right up there too after a great home delivery order from them last week.

Located on Church Road in St George, Spice Express is a pure takeaway restaurant with no seating whatsoever. Promising the “finest Indian cuisine”, their aim is to become the number one choice for Indian food in Bristol – and they’re doing well so far. For four years running, the restaurant has won a Tried And Tasted Award from Just-Eat: winners need to have over 100 reviews on the takeaway giant’s website, and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 or more. What’s more, they also have a food hygiene rating of five, which always bodes well…

While you can order via Just-Eat, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Spice Express website also offers online ordering, with some dishes priced lower than on Just-Eat.

We ordered over the phone, thanks to a hard copy of the menu that we had in our ever-expanding pile of takeaway leaflets. Peruse the menu and you’ll find all the normal options – Korma, Rogan Josh, Jalfrezi and more, along with a Naga-based curry for those looking for something a little hotter. There are also various Biryani and Balti dishes, along with a “Traditional Specialities” section that includes dishes such as Methi Gosht, Makhani Chicken and Singapore chicken, lamb or prawn, which is very hot and spicy and cooked with okra.

There are also various “Speciality Main Dishes” (Achari, Badhonya and various mixed meat dishes, among others), as well as a wide range of starters, Tandoori dishes, side dishes, rice and breads.

Our menu also featured a special offer – available for both delivery and collection – offering any starter, any main dish and any rice or naan from £8.50 per head (they charge up to an extra £2 depending on the dishes chosen). It was too good to refuse, so we both opted to order a starter, main and naan, along with a couple of poppadums and the pickle tray…well, it’s rude not to…

We weren’t sure what to expect from the £2.50 pickle tray, but it turned out to be six pots of sauce: three of them a moreish mint sauce, a smooth mango chutney, a seriously fiery lime pickle (I LOVE lime pickle) and a chilli pickle (bottom right) that proved to be far too hot for my palate…

 

Spice Express - Pickle Tray

 

Starter-wise, we both went for the Special Mix Platter (normally £2.95): a slightly anaemic-looking but flavourful and well-spiced meat samosa, a tender chicken tikka pakora with a crisp coating and an enormous onion bhaji which was lovely and crispy on the outside, soft and well-spiced with turmeric on the inside and not overly greasy.

 

Spice Express - Mixed Starter

 

For his main, Chris ordered the Lamb Korai (normally £5.25). Korai – or karahi – recipes change from restaurant to restaurant, as the name simply refers to the dish in which they are cooked, but this fairly standard version included huge chunks of onions and green pepper, along with tomatoes and plenty of fresh coriander. Medium hot in flavour, it met with his approval – and although a little oily, the lamb was beautifully tender and the gravy fresh in its flavour.

 

Spice Express - Lamb Korai

 

I love spinach in my curries, so opted for the Lamb Sag (also £5.25): again, the lamb the perfect melt-in-the-mouth consistency (I’m often wary of ordering lamb from Indian takeaways, but this was great), and the quantity of meat generous. Relatively mild in heat terms, the flavours of the wilted spinach combined well with those of the sliced onion, ginger and garlic. A lovely, warming dish without too much excess oil.

 

Spice Express - Lamb Saag

 

Rather than rice, I chose a garlic and cheese naan (normally £2) to mop up the gravy from my curry. The bread itself was light and fluffy and nicely charred around the edges, with plenty of garlic and just enough cheese to add a crisp and tangy topping. Beautiful.

 

Spice Express - Garlic Cheese Naan

 

Our food was still lovely and hot when it arrived, and was packaged well in a combination of plastic takeaway containers, paper bags (for the starters) and foil-lined paper bags for the naans. Our delivery driver was friendly and cheerful, and we were pretty impressed all round. With good quality food, an impressive food hygiene rating, great prices and a top notch delivery service, we’ll certainly be using Spice Express again.

 

 

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