Vegan Eating Out: City Spice Review

CitySpiceReview

Disclaimer: I was invited to enjoy a meal for two at City Spice at no cost. All words, images and opinions are my own.

My Mum and I had a conversation the other day about how funny it is that I’ve ended up vegan. I hated vegetables with a passion when I was growing up and would painstakingly pick out every tiny piece of onion of her homemade cooking. Fast forward all these years and I’m arguably enjoying food more than I ever have even though it’s now all plant-based. So when I was invited to try the Michelin-inspired vegan menu at Brick Lane institution City Spice, I jumped at the chance of cruelty-free curry.

City Spice is a multi-award winning restaurant, seeing it acclaimed as London’s Restaurant of the Year, Best Restaurant in London and Best Asian Restaurant all in 2017. For us plant-based types though, the most significant development is that it has become the first restaurant on Brick Lane to launch a dedicated vegan menu to sit alongside and compliment its extensive main offerings.

CitySpiceReview

And my GOODNESS what a menu it is. I think most of us who choose not to eat meat have gone from never expecting to find something we can eat other than a limp salad, to being blown away at the vast array of food catering to vegan tastes. City Spice is no exception. I took Pete along with me for dinner on a Wednesday evening and it felt like such a treat to escape kitchen duties.

CitySpiceReview

It has a prime position almost smack bang in the middle of Brick Lane and its vibrant neon sign lights up the way to lure hungry diners in along with an impressive photo display of previous celebrity endorsers. It’s clear to see that owner Abdul Ahad is immensely proud of his restaurant and so he should be. City Spice is a lovely airy space with two floors, the downstairs being perfectly suited to bigger groups/private dining. It was fairly busy for a Wednesday evening which is always a good sign.

I’d already been thinking about what to choose from the menu because basically, I think about food ALL the time, especially if I’m going out for dinner. The menu was overseen by owner Mr Ahad himself after he was invited to a gastronomical exchange in Sri Lanka with Michelin-star chef Rupert Rowley. I had no doubt that I’d be in good hands with the menu which contains 14 main courses alone.

So let’s get on to the most important task – sharing what we chose. We’d already sampled some delightful poppadoms and chutney whilst making our choices and for starters we opted for City Chana Chat and Aloo Chat. The first dish is chickpea based and the latter potato based, both extremely generous portions with a salad accompaniment and priced at just £4.95 and £3.95 respectively which is incredible value – this is what you’d pay for bread in most places never mind a starter!

CitySpiceReview

For main courses we followed recommendations and chose the signature Shahi Sahakari Thali (£15.95) and the Shobji Garlic (£9.95). The Thali is described as “A perfect vegan dish from the King of Brick Lane, this delicious thali-style platter contains a mixture of uribeeshi biran, bombay aloo, begun daal gatta, chappati and rice. No wonder then, that the name Shahi Sahakari loosely translates as “The vegan king”. It’s always a great option to try at an Indian restaurant as you can get a taster of several different dishes and flavours.

CitySpiceReview

The Shobji Garlic definitely lived up to its name and I was a little worried for Pete who isn’t a huge garlic lover compared to me. I actually think in this case the roles were reversed however as I found it a little too strong for my palette whereas Pete loved it. The base is fried mushroom, potato and cauliflower which is definitely right up my street and again, an enormous potion for such a reasonable price compared to if you ordered a bog-standard curry in a pub.

CitySpiceReview

Needless to say we struggled to finish all our food, mainly because my Ulcerative Colitis was in full-on flare up mode but you know what? That just gives us the very best excuse to return and try some more dishes because oh my goodness, I plan to work my way through that menu. They also have some vegan wine options on the menu too although since Pete was driving and I didn’t feel too great we abstained. Next time! Is there anything I would change? Absolutely nothing at all and I’m thrilled that City Spice have taken the lead to show that vegan food is exciting and full of flavour.

Disclaimer: I was invited to enjoy a meal for two at City Spice at no cost. All words, images and opinions are my own.

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