SBT takes a look at the Spice Garden in Eastbourne, tasting some of the food for ourselves and catching up with the owner, Abdul Kadir

20 years ago, Spice Garden opened its doors on Church Street in Old Town, Eastbourne. Over these two decades, owner, Abdul Kadir and his brother have run a tight ship ensuring that their customers experience exquisite Indian cuisine at its best. Their dedication and experience is demonstrated in their award winning food and service, winning Curry House of the Year 2016, as voted for by Eastbourne Herald and being awarded South East Regional Finalist in the Restaurant Awards 2011.

To keep up with demand, and to create a more sophisticated concept that suited both the times and a more decadent ambiance, the restaurant went through a big refurbishment in 2009, which saw the décor to what it is today. With tables and chairs lined neatly across two levels of Spice Garden’s sizeable but intimate feeling space, the restaurant has plenty of room for all types of event. There are small tables for couples, small families and friends, and there are larger tables for big groups and corporate lunches or dinners.

The menu is extensive, with all the favourites but also with something a bit different. Abdul said: “We like to add our own twist to each recipe, so that you won’t find it the same anywhere else. There are a few dishes that are completely our own creation – they may have now been replicated elsewhere but we are proud to call them our own.”

Mr Kadir is a chef himself, but also runs the floor front of house. His regulars always expect to see him there and it’s very important to him to have a presence in his restaurant to greet his customers and ensure they have a good time.

“The future is looking promising. We have a lot of regulars, and word has been spreading more and more through word-of-mouth, mainly client recommendations. We are always striving for people to have not just a meal, but a night out. We provide a full experience, rather than just Indian cuisine.

“We have a wide range of wines, ranging in price from £14 all the way up to £180, which our customers really appreciate. Customers can also order online either through our website or through our partner site, chefonline.co.uk, which offers flexibility.”

A Chef’s Special Review

SBT had the pleasure of reviewing Spice Garden, tasting some of Abdul’s recommendations.

For starter, the Murgh Nazakat and Chicken Memo were beautifully served on our table alongside yoghurt. The Murgh Nazakat consisted of skewered chicken, flavoured with garlic and nutmeg. The chicken was beautifully succulent and full of flavour – not too hot, but spiced perfectly for my palette. The Chicken Memo dish consisted of a pancake stuffed with spiced chicken, made as a chef’s special. This was a particular favourite, combining the flavours of a bahji and a wrap into one.

For main, we were served two types of rice: boiled Basmati and Pilau rice. This was alongside a full plain Nan Bread, Sag Aloo, King Prawn Goan and a beautiful lamb shank and chick pea dish. Everything tasted extremely fresh, and was at just the right heat, both in terms of temperature and spice. The King Prawn Goan was something I had never come across before in an Indian restaurant and after the first mouthful, it quickly became one of my favourite dishes. I’m unsure if any other main dish will ever beat the taste of king prawns marinated in thick, spiced tomato sauce with peppers, garlic, ginger, chillies and a hint of lime, and cooked in a clay oven. The prawns were perfect in texture and complemented the meal wonderfully. Prawn may not be something you consider having with a curry, but with this dish, you really should. Equally, the Lamb ‘E’ Doula, consisting of lamb on the bone marinated in spices with chick peas, was something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. The lamb simply fell off the bone, showing the time and effort that had gone into this dish, and the spices were delightful. This went particularly well with the Sag Aloo, which was a blend of sliced, spiced potato and spinach.

Each part of this meal was a pleasure for the taste buds, and demonstrated exactly what not only Indian cuisine is about, but also what Abdul’s restaurant is about. With every dish, Abdul brings something familiar alongside something a bit different, which I think is very unique. A chef himself, his passion for good food comes through tenfold in everything that’s served, so I implore anyone to give Spice Garden a try.

Spice Garden

Church Street, Old Town, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 1HT

Tel: 01323 72212

Order online at http://www.spice-garden.co.uk or via ChefOnline only.

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