Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sai Spice, Chorlton.

In the early 90's living just outside of Rusholme, we'd try out most of the new Indian restaurants as they opened up. Then we settled on one we really liked; Hanaan, it was glass fronted, the first of the slightly more modern style places at that time. There was a really entertaining waiter there too, quite theatrical, he'd give you a knowing wink as if we were all part of a private joke. If asking for water whilst eating a hot curry, he'd always say "Shall I ring the fire-brigade  Sir?" He was one of my most favourite waiters ever, it was almost like a performance and always a fun night out.
Fast forward twenty years, I'd forgotten all about this whilst sitting in our new local Indian Sai Spice on Friday evening. It's on the site of the former Southern Hotel, home to the famous Buzz Comedy Club. It's a little bit out of the way to be honest but as they've only just opened, it's my duty to check it out (the things I do for you).
'I've got a bad feeling about this place', I said to Mrs Bacon. They were playing really loud muzak, the lighting was dreadful, as bright and clinical as an operating table and the interior design was somebody's idea of good taste, unfortunately that person has no taste whatsoever. What is it with Indian restaurants, does the same company fit them all out? This wasn't even blingy like they tend to be these days. It just looked dated but with some bright gaudy multi-coloured water fountain 'sculptures' at the entrance.

But it turns out my first impressions were misleading. The night took a turn for the better as our waiter turned up. It was only Sidney the same waiter from the 90's. He looked exactly the same, a thin pencil moustache and slicked back hair and a knowing wink, he was as entertaining as ever.
Onto the food, the poppadoms were good, it would have been better if they were served warm, but we especially liked the green coriander dip.
We skipped starters and I got the Sai Lamb Shank, she got a Methi Chicken. The Sai Lamb Shank (Overnight marinated shank of lamb with pot roasted tomatoes, chilli and coriander, £9.50), was excellent, a giant portion with tender meat and tangy spicy sauce. No bright colouring thank god, it was gorgeous, rich and bloody lovely. Having it on the bone and marinated overnight really brings out the meaty goodness. More 'authentic' too. I pulled the meat off the bone and made a 'butty' out of it with the nan like I always do. Delicious. We cleaned that bone of meat like a couple of vultures.
The Methi Chicken (chicken, fenugreek leaves onion and tomato £6.95), was really super too. Decent nan bread and rice as well.

I highly recommend Sai Spice on the basis of these two dishes, despite the bland interior and elevator music it was a very pleasant surprise, we will be back. Sadly I can't guarantee Sidney will be there though as he was only working there to help out. But I suppose the moral of this story is this; don't judge a book by it's cover, and you always remember a great waiter especially if he's as entertaining as Sidney.
When I return, I'm having this dish again.
Price: £20 each with a few beers.
Service: Sidney is great.

Atmosphere: Poor. Bright lighting, muzak, not cosy at all.
Food: Good.
Star dish:
Sai Lamb Shank.
Score: 6.5/10.

Soundtrack: A theme from a Summer Place - Percy Faith.

Sai Spice on Urbanspoon