A regular fixture on Saturday Kitchen, Cyrus Todiwala is the esteemed chef proprietor at Café Spice Namaste. Cyrus and his wife Pervin have built up this family-run culinary institution housed in a very grand former Victorian magistrate’s court, now in its 22nd year, with a horde of regulars continuing to knock down the proverbial doors. With buzzy crowds on a midweek evening, we were excited to see what all the fuss was about, having seen the rambunctious mix of Indo-British exotic meats and vibrant spice blends on the menu.
Splendidly spicy pickles and chutneys are all house-made specialities; a rare treat, which are also available to take home should you so wish. Speaking to the knowledgeable chef, we discovered that the menu spans across several regions of India, with a special emphasis on Goan-style dishes and even Parsee influence from the Persian era. We couldn’t wait to try the array of delicious regional concoctions, and kicked off with the tempting starter platter.
With beetroot and coconut innards, the samosa was a zingy treat, while the crisp saev batata poori were filled with crushed potato and drizzled with chutney and yoghurt. A wonderful selection of tikka meats were truly the stars of the show on the starter platter. Delicious grilled salmon in green masala sauce was herby yet delicate, revealing soft pink salmon flesh underneath the striking green outer layer. Barbary duck tikka was softly spiced and tender, while the venison tikka had fragrant and perfectly pitched aromas of star anise, fennel and aniseed. A strong start if ever there was one.
The menu clearly displays an emphasis on exotic meats which are ethically sourced, and this was clear to see from the ostrich bhuna which caught my eye immediately. Not one to bury my head in the sand when a challenge should arise, I ploughed on through the mound of steaming amber-saffron rice and beautifully tender slices of ostrich meat. A unique execution of a bhuna creation that is an absolute must-try dish here.
Another intriguing main was the roasted pulled pork in Goan balchao masala with onion rice. The dish had a fair kick without being overwhelming, and was a great lively twist on the barbeque classic.
Dripping with warm, syrupy honey, the mustard and saffron naan to accompany the mains brought us through a journey from sweet to savoury and back again. The pillowy and puffy naan was freshly baked with a delicious combination of flavours.
The dessert platter had a small sweet treat at every corner, with a delicately spiced selection including cardamom-infused pink kulfi. Flavours of pistachio, caramel and chocolate ran throughout the other delicate morsels, with a delicacy to suit every palate.
Listed in the Michelin Guide with a Bib Gourmand, Café Spice Namaste is keeping up its prestige with a melting pot of specialities, still managing to attract an exuberant crowd of never-ending regulars. We can certainly see what earnt Cyrus both his OBE and loyal customers, from the bustling array of must-try innovative Indian dishes, to the Greedy Pigs dining club, master classes and even starry guest chefs regularly visiting the restaurant.
Café Spice Namaste
16 Prescot Street, London, E1 8AZ