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Whoops! That was nearly a pizza

Spice Lounge, Petersfield

“This is a strange-looking Indian,” Perry says. “It looks more like a pizza place.” Perry likes Indian food but says he can never remember what he likes so every time he eats it’s a new experience.

The entrance to Spice Lounge in this sleepy Hampshire market town (where was everyone? In the new Wetherspoon we learnt later) is upstairs and it’s easy to wander into their downstairs neighbours, an Italian place, as they share a man entrance. Now, I’ve nothing against Italian food, it seems to fuel all those guys in the mafia films, so it’s probably best not to put it down, but really, can pasta every be chosen over a spice rush?

Head upstairs and you’ll be rewarded with a gem of a place with low ceilings, oak beams, little snugs and, for those by the window, a peak into the town (where there are no people). A country Indian, now that’s the style.

Our Bangladeshi waiter, who’s proudly from Dhaka, not Sylhet, the area which supplies most of the curry house chefs and waiters, doesn’t look too impressed with my choice of Chicken Sali Boti (£8.95), which the menu trumpets as a popular wedding dish. It’s a wedding dish because everyone can eat it he says politely but it’s still a double-edged sword of a comment. Anyway, he prefers something way more spicy. Has spice every day he says. I like him already.

The apricots in this Parsi dish give it a nice zing, but I see what he means; it’s nice but won’t set the world on fire.

Our Dhaka friend seems more impressed with my other choice of Lamb Achari (£8.95). I can’t get enough of lime pickle so when I discovered a dish that used pickle in the cooking process I thought I’d hit gold and now it’s a regular order. More zing than those namby pamby apricots.

Perry declares he likes both dishes. Although as his curry menu memory is so bad it’s unlikely he’ll ever be able to find them again. Hopefully he’ll find this great little venue again though.

• Spice Lounge, 1-2 The Square, Petersfield, GU32 3HJ. Tel: 01739 303303. Open: daily noon-2pm, 5.30pm-11.30pm.

Spice Lounge snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Decor ① ② ③ ④

Value ① ② ③ ④

Atmosphere (early Monday night) ① ②

Service and friendliness ① ② ③ ④

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