London Restaurant Reviews : Spice Deli

Disclaimer: I was invited to review the below venue and our meal was complimentary but all opinions and photos are mine. 

I was recently invited to review a small independent café/deli in NW6 called Spice Deli. Run by the husband/wife duo of Tarun Chandani and Kim Wilshaw, this place specialises in food inspired from their heritage in India, as well as various travels over the years. Both Kim and Tarun swapped their respective careers in psychotherapy and accountancy to retrain and run this place full time. After dipping their toes into the world of hospitality via various supper clubs and private catering gigs in Belsize Park, Spice Deli got its first permanent bricks and mortar place. Kim and her small team runs the operations in the kitchen, whilst Tarun handles front-of-house.

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The place itself is bright and lovely, designed in a minimalist style with potted plants, blackboard menus and jar-filled open shelves. Tucked away on a quiet side street, away from the hustle and bustle of Finchley Road, it is surrounded by other boutique cafes and small, independent businesses. Set upon two compact floors, this former Italian restaurant has been given a complete makeover by interior designers Trend and Fayre. Currently, the upstairs level is a more informal café with a few seats by the window and some lining the wall but largely has a grab-and-go vibe.

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Downstairs is a spacious restaurant with some communal tables seating about 30, which are reserved for more formal sit-down meals and catering for private events.

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Currently, they are open during the day every day of the week except Tuesdays. However, on Fridays and Saturdays they also operate an evening dinner menu alongside beer, wine and cocktails.

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The food is predominantly Indian-inspired, with some Middle-Eastern inflections. They work with fresh and seasonal produce and collaborate with other local businesses for certain items like coffee, bread and spices. Alongside their hot food menu, they have numerous freshly prepared salads, cakes and savoury baked goodies available to eat in or take-away. Everything is freshly prepared daily on site by Kim and her team.

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We kicked off with the Spice Deli Masala Chai; it was subtly flavoured with a hint of spice and not cloyingly sweet. Purists may prefer more sugar in their Masala Chai, but I was pretty happy with it. The inclusion of the Parle-G Biscuit stirred up memories of growing up in India for me (if you know, you know).

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Kris ordered what turned out to be an excellent example of a Flat White. The coffee (sourced from Vagabond Coffee Roasters) was of top quality; the Flat White itself had the classic hint of bitterness and the steamed milk didn’t overshadow the flavour. Many cafes succumb to the tendency to focus all their energy on the quality of food but here the coffee matched up as well.

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The brunch menu was compact but confident, with a focus on eggs and hearty vegetarian dishes. Kris’s eye went straight to Shakshuka (Baked eggs on a harissa spiced roasted pepper sauce) whilst I ordered the Cilbir (Poached eggs on garlic yoghurt and chilli butter).

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The Shakshuka had a nice bit of zing to it, perfect to wake up your senses on a lazy morning. The eggs were nicely cooked with some pleasant flavours coming from the herbs. My Cilbir also had an excellent blend of spices too. The yoghurt tasted silky and cooling to offset the warmth from the spices. The level of spice was medium but high on flavour.

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Both dishes were served with fresh sourdough, sourced from a local bakery in East Finchley who have been collaborating with Spice Deli for quite some time now. The  bread was thick, crusty and fresh; perfect for dunking and mopping up the spicy, eggy liquid.

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Alongside our brunch dishes, we ordered some Pomegranate Cured Salmon and Fennel Bacon, both cured in house.  I loved my bacon which was gorgeous, salty and sweet at the same time with a bit of punch coming from the fennel. The salmon was quite interesting – thick home-cured slices without that ‘fishy’ smell. I could easily eat salmon like this every day.

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We couldn’t have left Spice Deli without sampling their signature dish: Anda Bhurjee (Spiced scrambled eggs with tomato and onion). This Indian-inspired brunch dish had a nice bit of kick coming from the green chillies and tiny textures from finely chopped red onion and tomato. The eggs were softly folded and gooey which I quite liked. It was also heartening to know that they didn’t pander to Western audiences by dumbing down the chilli. Overall, this dish received a big thumbs up from both of us.

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To finish, we had an outrageously good Chai Spiced Brownie and a Chai Biskoot Ice Cream Sandwich.

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The latter was a dinky little thing of deliciousness with light and creamy, mildly spiced ice cream sandwiched between two biscuits (Parle-G again) and slathered with caramel sauce. The only issue was that the biscuit had gone a bit soggy.

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Whilst the brunch dishes at Spice Deli are remarkable and expertly made, it slightly leans to the classic and conventional side. To me, it is the daily baked goodies where the menu really shines in terms of novelty, creativity and skills. The selection of fusiony items like Turmeric Spiced Frittata, Turmeric Brioche Buns, sticky and mouth watering Cardamom and Cinnamon Buns and lush and colourful cakes is where the confluence of various cuisines really manifests. Indeed, that counter is a real treat for the eyes and taste buds.

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The food in Spice Deli is comforting, homespun food that not only ticks the box, but ticks the soul. We quite liked the Indian and Middle-Eastern mash up in terms of the food. The place has a real community vibe and you can clearly see this passion project being lapped up by the locals. Ever since opening nine months ago, the neighbours have been hugely supportive of Kim and Tarun’s venture and, judging by the number of locals who dropped by whilst on our visit, it seems a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. As a destination, Spice Deli is a amiable spot to meet and greet for delicious coffee, healthy and homely food and friendly conversations.

Location : 11 Goldhurst Terrace, London NW6 3HY

Closest Underground Station:

Finchley Road

http://www.spicedeli.co.uk

 

 

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