Sunday, 1 July 2012

Spice Market, Leicester Square - A Review

The bouncer on the door let me right through, no ID necessary. Low, upbeat house met my ears and a smiling concierge checked my coat. The place was darkly lit with heavy gold decor and people who wanted to be seen lounged, idly sipping champagne. Led to the bar, the drinks prices suggested this was a high brow club. Wrong. This is Spice Market, a high end Asian Fusion restaurant found just off Leicester Square.

I was here for a Chef's Table event with head chef, Peter Lloyd. Lloyd executes Michelin starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's composed dishes with the finesse of a master at his craft. As the lesson to make chicken samosa's began, his passion and high standards were obvious. I felt like a happy member of his staff as he aided and critiqued our work. Rustling up a chicken samosa turns out not to be a case of rustling at all, more reliant on careful concentration and execution. Peter regularly runs his sold out masterclasses and as a budding chef myself I relished the chance to learn under him, as he trained at the Dorchester. After the masterclass, we were seated at a long table. Spice Market is all about sharing bowls, paired with great alcohol. The service was immaculate. There is no doubt that the mixologists at the bar were talented and knowledgeable. I will return with the girls for cocktails.     


As I sipped a delicious ginger margarita, I was presented with 10 courses. We were to dine in front of a giant spice rack and under 600 wok custom made wok lights that covered the ceiling. Indeed the interior design is exquisite, as such Spice Market boasts the Best Restaurant Design Award. I came away with mixed opinions of the food itself. All beautifully presented, I felt some of the dishes were overpowered by chilli and ginger but this may be my personal taste. Having been travelling around South East Asia, I was happy to see lesser known dishes such as tapioca, a traditional cooling dessert used to make a refreshing starter of shaved tuna, chilli tapioca, asian pear with a lime dressing. Peter pleasantly surprised me by returning to ask how our meal was, showing attentiveness and pride in his work. The whole fried egg balanced on top of a mound of steaming rice was stirred in by my fellow diners. Truly sumptuous. The cod with Malaysian chilli sauce was meltingly soft and delicately flavoured. The star of the show for me were the desserts. The Ovaltine Kulfi, Banana Brulee and spiced milk chocolate sauce was a true innovation; the cookies and small bento boxes with coconut icecream were moreish even after 8 other courses. I would happily buy the salted peanut cookies as part of my weekly shop, though it's probably better I can't do that as I have little self control. 

Spice Market makes you feel like you have been in enclosed in the arms of luxury for a night. I was certainly warmed by the spicy food, strong spirits and darkly inviting ambiance. For occasions of significance this would be a WOW factor venue, provided the person to foot the bill has as bigger pockets as he does aspirations. As for the rest, I will let the photos below speak for themselves.

Lobster Spring Rolls, handmade by yours truly

Sweet pineapple with marinated prawns

Green Papaya Salad, a Vietnamese classic

Cod with Malaysian Chilli sauce, Thai Basil and Celery

Ginger Fried Rice

Ovaltine Kulfi with banana brulee


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