Friday, May 2, 2014

Bollywood Spice

Bollywood Spice, aka The Slap Up, has had its ups and downs over the years. I have dined there for nearly ten years as a Waterbeach local and it has gone through phases of being quite good to quite bad. It was never the prettiest place on the outside, or inside for that matter. It did however, usually manage to do a damned good curry. 
Several years ago it was taken over and turned in to a Bollywood Spice. Here is my take...

The first thing you notice from the outside is the decoration. If anyone remembers The Slap Up, they would soon tell you it looks horrible from the outside. A plain white building which looks run down and located right next to a busy main road. Bollywood Spice has made a lot of effort to make it look more presentable and offer a bit of that Bollywood bling from the moment you lay eyes on it. 

The Slap Up
 Bollywood Spice

Bollywood Spice goes quite flamboyant with bright pink paint and a flashy red sign on the top. They have made a little court garden out the front of the door with lots of potted plants and a bench. 
It looks very beautiful and it certainly improves on how it was.



As you go inside you notice beautiful decoration all over. They have made a real effort to make this place more appealing. You can almost imagine the new owners walking in to the old Slap Up and going "we need to redecorate, hard!". They have covered the walls with stylish wall paper, which would be something you'd consider seeing in an overly flashy living room, which works in a restaurant. Its not just about being flashy though, they have managed to keep it very traditional at the same time. Its like a balance of modern yet traditional Indian decoration. As you can see below they have Indian dolls presented in a beautiful wooden stand and some nice art work on the walls.



Once you walk past the entrance you come to a bar, which was not there back when it was The Slap Up. The place looks and feels much more spacious now. There are some nice leather chairs for waiting, and a TV with some Indian music channel playing.

I noticed at the bar they had a selection of spirits on display and Mongoose beer on tap.

We were taken to our table and seen reasonably quickly. I felt the waiter didn't want to be there today. He looked quite fed up. A few attempts were made to make small talk but he wasn't interested, nor was he interested to make eye contact either.

When we sat down we ordered our papadums. We took this chance to take in some of the other decorations around us while we waited. Once again we were impressed with what we saw. Everything felt so new, despite Bollywood Spice being open for many years now, they clearly looked after the place. There was lots of modern neon lights, blue and purple mainly, with lots of traditional Indian decorations on the windows. The place looked and felt great. I can really imagine this place having a great atmosphere later on in the evening when its bustling with more life. They certainly get full marks for what they have done with the place. 

Bravo guys!




Our poppadums came and we were presented with an extra one free. We were sadly only given three sauces. Beetroot, onion salad and mango chutney. They were presented in white china, but unlike the white china in a lot of other places, they were quite large bowls which was great because in the past we have often made quite a lot of mess when given the smaller pots. 
Sadly though, despite the bowls being bigger, the portions were still small. We were also missing the lime pickle. Luckily they were happy to bring some more out at no extra cost. The portion were much larger than the other sauces, which was just as well, as I devour lime pickle like there isn't a tomorrow. The papadums tasted great, as did the sauces, though the beeetroot and mango chutney were a bit watery. The lime pickle was spot on and tasted fantastic, the texture was also just right. The onion salad was uninspiring but good enough.


Once we had finished our papadums, the gentleman took our orders. We noticed that the cheapest rice on the menu was still £2.50. The beers were about £4, which I am very sad to say now days is about average. We noticed that the curries on the menu were only £6, which works out cheaper than the Curry Queen and Kohinoor on Mill Road, so the place was quite competitive. Including the expensive rice id say it worked out about average.
We ordered two vindaloos and two rice portions. Money was tight today so we didn't get a chance to explore other dishes like samosas and saag aloo. 

The food came out at a decent time. We noticed once the food had been placed on our plates that the portions were quite small (it might explain the price?). The vindaloo had a good kick to it, just the way I like it, but it was hardly a hard hitting curry. The rice was cooked perfectly and was a reasonable portion. 



I was a little underwhelmed by the vindaloo myself. The chicken was cut up quite small, which I don't like, and though it had flavour I have certainly tasted much better. The potatoes were hard to find but were quite well cooked, again, nothing to shout about. The vindaloo was a thick brown sauce, more like a spicy gravy. It certainly done the trick but I was left feeling a little unsatisfied after. I really think the portions could have been bigger.

Sonya tried her first ever vindaloo. She took it like a real champ and managed to finish it with pride. Then celebrated with pride, accordingly!
She seemed to quite enjoy her meal, though she pointed out that she had no other vindaloo to compare it too.

Champion!

Once we had finished they took our plates and glasses away. We were presented with pre packaged hot towels. When I first saw them being brought to our table I was a little annoyed because I thought they were going to be warmed up wet wipes, however, when he opened them I was pleased to find out that they were quite decent. They were like a mini hot towel instead.  They were warm after opening them too which gave me a decent amount of time to freshen up. 

Once we had finished we were presented with a bill. The bill came with two chocolates each but no mints, aniseed sweets or any shots/hot drinks. We were quite pleased with the bill, being slightly below average for two. So we were happy. 

The overall conclusion of the place is that it presents itself well. They have clearly put in a lot of time and money in to the bar and the decoration, the place looks great. I can really see this being a great atmosphere in the later evenings or on a Saturday night. 

The food was average, so nothing to get too excited about, but by no means bad at all. The service was perhaps a bit below average, it just wasn't the warm friendly atmosphere you usually associate with Indian establishments. I am going to put his very distant service down to a bad day at the office. 

I really feel like the place has gone in the complete other direction. The Slap Up was once a run down looking venue which offered a warm service and great food. Bollywood Spice now offers a stylish and modern establishment with average food and service. I cant help but think if they pulled their socks up a little then this could easily be one of the best Indians in town. 

7/10 but so much potential.