Desi Spice

27 Bramshot Ave, Charlton SE7

It doesn’t take long to get used to the forests-worth of flyers that get shoved through the letterbox morning, noon and night round here. I know the exact repertoire of pizza flyers, curry flyers, Chinese flyers and requests for old clothing by now, the tedium really only interrupted by the odd hand-typed leaflet for a splendid-sounding exotic spiritual medium who guarantees rude health, undying love and immortality.

“Under New Management” is one of the few phrases in these flyers that attracts my attention. When it’s accompanied by a new picture on the front too, I suspect they mean business.

Armed with the usual Phantom Control Meal order, I called an extremely friendly chap who was chatty and efficient without being obsequious. Much earlier than the estimated arrival time another very cheery chap arrived with carrier bags and a smile.

From that point the experience became a little more uneven. One of the rice dishes was exquisitely cooked and very fresh and tasty, they other had clearly been hanging around for some time. From the second the lid came off, I missed that fresh, steaming aroma that really well-cooked rice exudes, and the visuals weren’t much better – flabby, flat grains sitting flatly in the dish, willing me to end it all for them. Strangely it didn’t taste bad, but it was not the best rice I’ve had by a very long way.

The poppadoms, too were a mixed bag – one half sad, soggy discs of cardboard, the other, clearly from a different batch, crisp, light and utterly fabulous.

The mains are where one can usually tell what a place is made of, and these actually tasted very nice. The flavour was good, rounded and just of the right spiciness. The texture, however, let them down. Very, very oily (I’m still trying to remove the residue from the sink) and, no matter what the dish was, looking and feeling exactly the same as its brothers and sisters. It was just one big mass of (very flavoursome) orange goo.

There was one thing that was superb. The onion bhajis were possibly the best I have tasted in a very long time. Large, crispy and full of flavour, they were easily the most enjoyable bit about the meal.

Oddly, we enjoyed this rather more than it sounds like . There is something about very oily food that is gooey, naughty and ever-so-slightly nauseating but a guilty pleasure all the same.

My big worry about this place is consistency. There were such variations in quality within single dishes of our control meal that I’m not sure I could vouch for anything on this menu ever being the same again – it could be worse – or it could be better. I just can’t tell.

By all means try it – and if you do, let us know how you get on. In the meanwhile, I’m still sitting on Cafe Massala for takeaway and Kerala Zone for eat-in, but that could change very soon. There are many many, many more Indian restaurants to try – and so little time.

Aren’t we all looking forward to Bombay Bicycle…

I couldn’t make the website work, but here it is anyway:

020 8858 3777

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