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The Spice Club Reviewed

Hungry Hoss likes the atmosphere and grub at the very interesting dining club

Published on February 14th 2012.

The Spice Club Reviewed

IF you’re reading this on a mobile device make sure no one is looking over your shoulder. 

Accompanied by fluffy basmati rice and fresh chapattis, a favourite with many diners, was the Amritsari lamb palak – tender lamb, slow roasted for several hours in a Punjabi spinach masala.

If you’re on a PC, delete the browsing history, as I’m about to reveal the saucy and spicy secrets of Manchester’s finest, ‘secret supper club’. 

Over the years I’ve been involved in numerous conversations about where in Manchester serves the best curries. 

Many say, The Curry Mile, others, the cafés of Cheetham Hill, while some prefer big buffets – but, we’ve all heard the phrase, “Just like mama used to make”. This is because most, given the chance, would agree that the only place to get a proper, authentic curry is in the home of a family where the recipes have been passionately perfected over generations. 

Ladies and Gentlemen I present Monica and her ‘mummyji’ Anita - hosts of The Spice Club. 

Monica masterminds the mysterious meetings of adventurous curry lovers who travel from all over the North West (and further afield) to its cloak-and-dagger location (revealed 24 hours before) in a suburban area of deepest  ‘North Manchester’. 

Happy dinersHappy diners

Completing the family run operation, her brother keeps guests happy front of house and Dad, who wisely (as mine would) keeps out of the way, having volunteered (or been volunteered) to do the washing up - good ole’ Dad. 

Having previously attended a Spice Club Vegetarian Feast, knowing what to expect, we arrived for the special ‘Valentines Dinner’ alongside supper club virgins and certified veterans, who talked about being ‘addicted’ to the first-rate food and distinctive experience. 

After a tentative start, bound by a common love of food, guest’s fears about having to (shock horror) ‘dine and talk to strangers’ were soon allayed and conversation (as well as the BYOB) freely flowed. 

Great food aside (which I will come to), a major draw of such events is the opportunity to meet an eclectic and interesting array of people – over the last couple of visits, we have met a nurse, hairdresser, structural engineer, dentist, restaurant manager, a few teachers and even Aiden Byrne, the celebrity chef/proprietor of The Church Green in Lymm. (If one of the North West’s best chefs and recipient of a Michelin star is dining there on a rare night off, you know the food’s going to be good.)

Goodly foodDal Makhni

Upon arrival, we entered to warmest of welcomes and the wondrous scent of spices. Three large dining tables (each seating eight) had transformed the lounge into an inviting restaurant style setting, beautifully ornamented with a candlelit Valentine theme. Eastern music, elegant jewel encased menus and elephant place-card holders hinted further at the Indian delights that lay in store. 

After a welcoming homemade strawberry and basil infused lassi, the star of the picture at the top of the page, aloo tikki chaat followed. The potato patty topped with fresh cholay (spiced chickpeas) yoghurt, tamarind sauce and mint and coriander chutney was flavoured with just enough spice to enliven the taste buds, and elicit “Oohs” and “Aahs” from impressed diners. 

Tables cleared, entrées were placed ‘family style’ down the centre causing eyes to widen and, for the first time in the evening, silence reigned as initial mouthfuls of dishes such as spicy goan chicken and dal makhni were savoured.

Accompanied by fluffy basmati rice and fresh chapattis, a favourite with many diners, was the Amritsari lamb palak – tender lamb, slow roasted for several hours in a Punjabi spinach masala.

The synergy of spices used to create depth is key to Indian cuisines. I felt the bhindi masala, topped with the fresh zing of homemade paneer, sautéed in cumin, turmeric and coriander to create layers of warmth; nigella seeds for a delicious peppery, nuttiness; amchur (mango powder) for delicate piquancy and sweet fresh tomatoes chieved this masterfully. 

Fittingly for Valentine’s, flavoured with a rosewater scented syrup, dessert was the traditional sweet Indian delicacy gulab jamun and a beautifully subtle homemade cardamom Ice-cream (I looked for a clever heart/cardiac link by searching for the etymology of cardamom but couldn’t find one). 

Curry heart love thingCurry heart love thing

The Spice Club offers an ‘open kitchen policy’ where Monica and mum are happy to take the time to passionately explain their dishes and talk about the spices and ingredients used – they also offer cooking classes. 

Of course, since their appearance on The Hairy Bikers, tables are hard to come by so keep checking their website and twitter feed for future dates. 

You can book for the Spice Club here. Prices for dinner start from around £25 depending on the occasion.

Hungry Hoss is a man who likes his food. We may be seeing a lot more of him. And his nosh.

Rating: 16/20
Food: 8/10 
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.


Goodly foodBhindi Masala

Goodly foodGulab Jamun lined up ready to go in the kitchen

Goodly foodAmritsari Lamb Palak

Goodly foodSpicy Goan Chicken


Good puddGulab Jamun with Homemade Cardamom Ice Cream

Cupid's frothy arrowCupid's frothy arrow - lassi with strawberry and basil

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

David CroneFebruary 13th 2012.

Looking good... love is in the air!

NorthernGeezerFebruary 13th 2012.

Fantastic concept, unfortunatley getting on the guest list is now gonna be a nightmare, just looked on there website and every single event is booked up.

EvoFebruary 14th 2012.

how much for this experience?

EditorialFebruary 14th 2012.

Evo, put a base price in now. Thanks

FentonFebruary 14th 2012.

As far as titillating, pointless and vague reviews go; this is one of my favourites. Thanks for highlighting another club of which I will not be a member. Will have to stick to Swadesh (which is very good BTW)!

Charlie BFebruary 14th 2012.

Fenton! Fenton! Jeeeeeeeeeeeeesus Chrissssssst!

Hungry HossFebruary 14th 2012.

Thank you, Daniel... I think.

NorthernGeezerFebruary 15th 2012.

YEEEEHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!.....................got a cancellation for the veggie feast on 17th March, cant wait!

NorthernGeezerMarch 24th 2012.

Did the veggie feast last week................sensational.
Whilst i've got me fave restaurants for me fave dishes, as a whole meal experience, this is probably the best indian food i've ever eaten.
the only down side was the 6 people who came together on another table who spoilt the evening with noisy, loud, behaviour.
Cant blame Monica for this so i'll give it another go on a more 'meaty' night.

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