by the Munching Mariner (published East End Life, 18th January 2010)
Spice Merchants is in a small and simple but stylish venue with modern décor. The food is Indian, inspired by Mughlai cuisine.
My Thirst Mate and I arrived at 7.30 on a Saturday evening and were guided upstairs to a table by the window. There is a smaller seating area and a bar downstairs. A few people were dining already and more gathered during our stay.
We ordered tap water and a bottle of Rioja for £14.50. House wines were £10.50 and Tiger, Cobra and Kingfisher beers were all available.
I opened with lamb tikka and my Thirst Mate opted for vegetable samosas. In both cases they were presented beautifully and tasted great.
For our main course, my Thirst Mate ordered lamb madras which we both enjoyed but was a little hot for her palate.
I ordered the “exotic” xacuti chicken which was richly flavoured, as many of the specials were described. This dish was delicious, containing fenugreek, star anise, javantri and red Goan chillies. It was the first time I’d tried this dish and I’m seeking out a recipe already!
We shared some rice, naan bread and saag paneer (spinach with cheese) which all complimented our main dishes.
The service was friendly and professional. I was impressed at the waiter’s efforts to lay out our dishes, ensuring our space was uncluttered.
The toilets were bright, clean and modern. My Thirst Mate remarked they were among the best she’d seen in a restaurant of its kind.
Our bill was £45.15 excluding service. Spice Merchants hopes to attract “the ever discerning and affluent diner”. We felt that while it was not cheap, the quality of the experience was well worth the price we paid. It is also possible to eat there more cheaply as many of the Indian favourites are reasonably priced.
Spice Merchants is a matter of seconds away from Westferry DLR and is served by a number of bus routes. Takeaways and deliveries are available.
Spice Merchants is at 38 Salter Street, Docklands. Telephone: 7987 8779.