We settled, dubiously, on the Indian – Spice Merchant. We’d ventured into ‘old’ Walton-on-Thames, as we knew there were restaurants down there but had never tried any of them. The ‘triangle’ is a united nations of eateries, Thai, Japanese/Korean, two pubs and and Indian.
As you may know, I’m not a curry person however I ceded the Indian to reward my husband for putting up with me photographing all his meals.
We ventered in, to a stereotype. A too big space dominated by a retro bar is filled with white table cloths and padded chairs and completely devoid of diners. We very nearly left but the waiter was desperate for us to sit down, so we stayed.
After a look around we found there are two additional smaller rooms with cosier feels. We took a seat by a big corner window so we could people watch. It took until our main course but eventually other diners did come.
Our server was friendly and eager to please, I can’t fault the service. There is a benefit to being the only people in the restaurant.
The menu promises they use the best produce, acquired daily, and the finest spices from around the world.
The chef’s special section is enticing and there was more than one choice I actually wanted to eat (instead of my normal butter chicken curry cop-out.) One dish is the chicken kama sutra, that comes with a ‘lovers beware’ warning. I’m not convinced curry is a good precurser to a night of passion.
We began with popadums and chutney £1.30. I’m not a fan – love the chutneys not the actual popdums – so I watched my husband eat them, they were nice enough he went for a second round, just to make me wait a little longer to get some food.
And then our feast arrived.
Sharing our mains was apparently never an option. For his main my husband had the Deshi Karahi chicken £7.50 a true authentic dish …one of the most popular dishes if the Asian sub continent …hot an spicy for the true curry lovers. It was very good, lots of nice flavours. Be warned, it seemed spicier than its one chili indication.
I decided on the Chef’s Special Roast Bengal style £9.95 spring chicken marinated and infused with spices, char grilled and then slowly cooked in a rich masala sauce. It was nicely presented and really enjoyable, there was no spice indication but did have some heat. Large pieces of chicken and potatoes, it wasn’t quite the guess what’s in the sauce that I normally think of curries as and I liked that.
We shared a Raitha cool whipped yoghurt with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh coriander £1.30. This bowl was big, more than we could have hoped to eat yet yummy enough we tried our bests to finish it.
And just when you thought the yoghurt dish was a bargain, the Cachimber Indian green salad £1.75 beats them all. Tomatoes, cucumber, peas, onions, lettuce on a dinner plate. This could be a lunch, and a healthy one at that.
Excellent Peshwari naan £2.50 and pilau rice with saffron £2.20. also accompanied our mains.
It’s always nice when your expectations are exceeded. Of course it helps when you go in with such low ones. It might not be a stylish restaurant, but Spice Merchant certainly serves good food at good prices.
16-20 Bridge St, Walton-on-Thames KT12 1AA
Website is shared with their other location (and looks as if it’s only for their other location) but the menu is the same – www.spice-merchant.biz