If it ain’t broken

1. Reviews (London)

Spice of India, London SE1

A rambling, long menu is often worrying. How can a chef know, and cook, all these dishes properly methinks.

But somehow it seems perfect for the Spice of India. This is a proper curry house. Packed with an adoring after-work crowd all tucking into popadoms and dips and loving the array of old-school dishes on offer, the place is buzzing midweek.

This Waterloo favourite has stayed true to what most of us fell in love with when it came to Indian food – good, tasty food with no nonsense. It may not have that stark (cool, you know) Scandinavian-inspired interior design and astonishing unheard of dishes we can boast about at work the next day as if we are great culinary sub Continent explorers, but it does serve decent curry at decent prices.

The Spice of India might not be new and shiny but it certainly doesn’t feel dated; it’s just happy in its own curry-house skin. And I’m happy it’s there. Chicken Rogan (£8.25), Prawn Bhuna (£8.75), Pilau rice (£3.25) and a nan bread (£2.95) hasn’t tasted so good in a while.

Spice of India, 65 The Cut, South Bank, London, SE1 8LL. Tel: 0207 1286 or 0207 928 5280. Open: daily noon–2.30pm and 5.30pm–11.30pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 7.5
Decor 6
Service and friendliness 7.5
Vibe (early Wednesday night) 9
Value 8

‘Bunk up’ curry

2. Reviews (Other UK)

Bangalore Express, London, SE1

If you like a bit of exercise before and after your curry then it’s time to board the Bangalore Express. The trendy Waterloo restaurant is a stylish mix of smaller tables and highly polished long tables that encourage communal eating a la Wagamama. But the central design feature is the upstairs booths that are accessed via a bunk-bed style ladder, a quirky and fun part of the restaurant (although we were told they couldn’t be used as it was late, which seems a bit odd when it’s clearly used as one of the attractions of the place).

Dinner upstairs tonight darling?

The menu itself (printed in that casual throwaway sheet ‘we’re just soooo cool’ style) maintains the fun with some great world dishes on offer such as South Africa’s Bunny Chow (£10.50), Sri Lankan spicy mixed seafood with kottu roti bread (£10.50) and Burmese Chicken khauk-swe with thick egg noodles (£9.50) as well as old favourites like Chicken Tikka (£5.95) and Prawn Biryani (£11.50). Add 12.5% plate tax (sorry service charge) to all prices.

But central to the menu is the mix-and-match grid of ‘Big plates of curry and rice’ (£11.50, add £1.50 for prawns). Step one, choose from duck, lamb, chicken, prawns, fish, mixed seafood or vegetables, then your cooking style (from mild korma to fiery hot jungle curry), add a vegetable side (Bombay potato salad maybe?) and complete with your favourite rice (plain, pilau, mushroom and so on).

Sadly it seems to be a case of concept over curry because my choice of Kerala red rice, duck and medium tikka masala lacked cohesion. It’s clear, due to the concept, the meat was not cooked in the sauce, which is the very essence of what a curry is. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of the individual ingredients is great, but  it just feels like the chefs are dishing out your options from pots out back. I suppose it is a mix-and-match menu after all.

But, hey, there’s always the bunk style seats.

Bangalore Express, 103-105 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8UB. Tel: 020 7021 0886. e-mail: info@bangaloreexpress.co.uk. Open: daily 11.30am-midnight.

Bangalore Express snapshot

Food ① ② ③

Decor ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Value ① ② ③

Atmosphere (late on Tuesday night) ① ② ③ ④

Service and friendliness ① ② ③

Bangalore Express on Urbanspoon