Indie Spice Grill in Sandymount is undergoing something of a renaissance; if that sounds too much for a restaurant, then maybe it’s a restoration. Either way the menu is a mix of classic and contemporary Indian food, the team have gelled and seem comfortable in this upmarket neighbourhood setting and it all comes together under the eye of the young and charming manager Paola Felix.
Indie Spice is upstairs on the corner of Sandymount Green, the lovely space in the centre of this south Dublin village. Sandymount is a part of my childhood; my mother brought me to the beach as a small child. During the teenage years friends lived nearby and we had picnics in the Green, while in later years it’s a stop off for coffee after walking the dog on the strand. Brownes takes care of the coffee and some good French food, Dunne and Crescenzi serves their authentic Italian just down the road and now Indie Spice Grill is serving excellent food from a sub-continent far, far away.
So what’s with the restoration? I suppose it’s a restoration of standards, of a curated selection of classic Indian flavours presented in a contemporary way. It’s a mix of delicate spicing, big flavours, quality produce and not some little skill.
(This may be because the original owner Tarik Salahuddin has come back on board as a consultant and brought back the standards that saw him create the genesis of the contemporary Indian food culture evident in a select few restaurants In Dublin today; chances are most of these owners and managers came through one or other of Tarik’s ventures down the years.)
The room was busy on a Friday evening, with groups of friends and family doing the Friday night dinner just down the road. We dined as a trio, myself, the better prettier half and our food scientist daughter. Starters brought Deirdre semolina coated squid rings, impossibly tender and served with a home made spicy tomato chutney, which were shared around along with a beautifully presented vegetarian platter of crunchy onion bhajee, delicate pakora, crispy samosa and delicious aloo tika. In our modern world of paleo this or vegan that, it is worth remembering that the majority of the meals eaten in India are vegetarian, and the tradition of healthy eating is a part of the fabric of society.
The serious business started with the main courses, with three quite different dishes. Deirdre had the Tandoori Jhinga Makhani, lightly spiced chunks of chicken breast marinated in yoghurt and cooked over charcoal. Swirls of mango and a green tomato chutney were a perfect accompaniment, and the dish was light and delicate. Abigail tucked into a chicken Chettinad, a spicy curry cooked with coconut, red chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves which was delicious.
I had the jumbo king prawns cooked in the Tandoor and served on a bed of fiery deep red sauce, with flavours of citrus and spice coming through. Pilau rice and a thin garlic and coriander naan brought up the rear.
We were more than happy but Abigail has space in the special dessert tummy for a traditional kulfi flavoured with cardamom and saffron and beautifully presented in a crystal glass. We had the most delicious teas as well from the Forte company, and Deirdre reminded me the last time we had them was in the five star Adare Manor.
Indie Spice Sandymount is excellent; great food, friendly staff and a nice vibe could see this Indian kitchen become a part of village life.