There are few restaurant concepts more guaranteed to grip the heart in an icy embrace than the kitchen that tries to cook in more than one idiom. We were, therefore, slightly nervous about what we might find at the Spice Lodge in Cheltenham a pan Asian (Indian and Thai) restaurant handily placed for parents of pupils at the nearby Cheltenham College. The restaurant is in a palatial house on Montpellier Drive; the advantage of Georgian buildings is nicely proportioned rooms. Upstairs are rooms available for functions.
The dining room was bright and not your typical Indian restaurant, more hotel banqueting suite in style (a nod to the function rooms?). Clientele ranged from couples celebrating birthdays – complete with cake and singing waiters, groups of colleagues and friends.
The menu is predominantly Indian, with a much wider range of both starters and main courses than the shorter Thai section. We decided to both stick to the Indian section, as we were in that sort of mood – sometimes, only a Ruby will do.
A few poppadums whiled away the time spent waiting for our first courses. We were unsure about the chutneys – a rather thin raita, some sweet chilli sauce as a nod to pan Asian-ness (we were unconvinced by this change away from the usual), and chopped onion.
First courses of a tikki paneer stuffed with pineapple pulp and a Spice Lodge special – of sea bass in a crispy spicy batter, weren’t particulary memorable; our main courses (bhunna gosht chicken and dum dehi king prawn – cooked with a rich cashew gravy) were better, with strong flavours coming through, but we both thought that both dishes were a little one dimensional and not sufficiently different from each other. We do have to mention the peshwari nan, though; one of the better we’ve ever had.
Portions were generous, service friendly, swift and efficient (although they did know we were reviewing).
Overall, we thought that the Spice Lodge was a lot better than a run of the mill Indian restaurant, and pretty good value for money – our food was £56 between the two of us, with drink extra.
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of Spice Lodge, many thanks for our meal.