I remember being taken out first my first curry when I was around 10 years old, back in my hometown, near Coventry.
Before this momentous day, my culinary horizons had been mostly limited to turkey twirlers and smash (90's school meals for you). With the introduction of concepts such as spice and exotic new herbs, my mind was blown, resulting in a lifelong love of the many different cuisines from the Indian sub-continent.
Living in York, I must admit I do miss the multicultural vibrancy of cities such as Birmingham and Coventry. It's a complex subject to unpick in a blog post about food, but I do feel we lack diversity in this city.
With two restaurants in York and Easingwold, Jaipur Spice has been making its name as a culinary staple in the area for over 25 years.
As a family run business focused on Bangladeshi cuisine, it has thrived on a commitment to good, honest food. The restaurants have also recently undergone a facelift, firmly bringing them into the 21st century food landscape of York.
It's now time for a slight confession... I actually live around a 10 minute walk away from Jaipur Spice's York restaurant, which is located right by the Hospital on Haxby road.
One of my big frustrations, ever since moving to the north side of the city, has been the lack of good restaurants in close proximity to home (for those lazy evenings when the walk into the city centre proves too much...)
I was therefore slightly embarrassed when Jaipur Spice got in touch* to ask if I fancied checking out their offering, as they obviously had slipped under my radar for over 2 years (my fault and maybe Google's!)
Unfortunately Des ended up having to play in a concert the evening I was due to head over to the restaurant. Luckily our good friend Leo was able to valiantly step in. Much of this review is an amalgamation of our dual thoughts and reflections, discussed during our meal and after.
We arrived on a Thursday evening, both tired and slightly stressed from long days at work.
After being quickly seated, we both decided on a restorative glass of house wine to start off our meal (the red is solidly decent and very well priced.)
A generous plate of papadums appeared - round rafts of crisp pickle joy. We hungrily dived in, wetting our appetites for the food to come.
I decided to start with a generous plate of Lamb Tikka, which came loudly sizzling out of the kitchen. It was delicious, there's no other, fancier or wordier way of describing it. The lamb was wonderfully tender and gorgeously spiced.
Leo went down a slightly bolder route, opting for the Calamari Baza - deep fried squid, marinated in punjabi spices garlic and ajwain. I managed to snaffle a sample and can second Leo's comment that it was actually nice to have squid which for once, tasted like squid. (As opposed to the usual bland and benign rings of rubber many restaurants serve.)
The photograph below accurately captures my face at the moment when our mains arrived. It's the standard "oh shit I'm full already and this is a lot more food" expression.
I always have severe FOMO when visiting any restaurant, combined with a crippling inability to make any kind of choice. Subsequently I had decided on the Vegetarian Thali, a platter made up of a selection of various dishes, in order to make sure I could keep my options open.
To be honest, this was enough of a full meal in of itself, rending my starter pretty unnecessary. I was glad I had ordered it though, as the Tarka Daal was just perfection. Three other dishes came along with rice as part of my array, including another couple more favourites - Bombay Aloo and Saag Aloo. We both shared a fluffy naan, though I suspect I left most of it for Leo to polish off...
He had gone down a more singular route with a Chicken Pathia Balti. Again, taking full advantage of our friendship, I helped myself to this too and trying this type of the dish for the first time, was stuck by delicious combination of both sweet and sour flavours. It was also quite spicy, but in a considered way, rather than simply blasting the tastebuds into submission.
After we had finished/abandoned our mains, a staff member came over to chat with us and check how we were getting on. We got onto discussing the restaurant in general and the vision for its future - it was great to hear how enthusiastic this individual was and what their take was on Jaipur Spice's place in the York food scene. The underlying passion for authenticity and home cooking was very clear.
We both had a lovely evening and felt that the quality of the food, along with the extremely friendly service makes Jaipur Spice one of the best curry destinations in York. Certainly one of the best, if not the best, I have been to in the past few years.
The restaurant as a physical building is also spacious and attractive. We both felt it would lend itself well to group bookings, e.g. work parties, birthdays etc. This was confirmed by the staff, who explained that they receive a lot of whole restaurant wedding bookings - I can understand why!
The final comment I will leave is this; next time I fancy a curry,I'm going to Jaipur Spice. Simple as that!
*Our meal and drinks were complimentary, however my opinion is my own, as always.