Upmarket setup on the edge of Chinatown promises more than it delivers
Spice Market, Piccadilly Review
This venue is now closed
Spice Market is in a prime location on the edge of Leicester Square and Chinatown. There’s an impressive open spice cabinet, which spans two floors, is 24 meters long and reveals every ingredient the chefs will need to create the dishes on offer at Spice Market.
The interior is full of black, red and gold – a classic Asian colour scheme that lends itself well to this classy restaurant. Service at the front of house was friendly, if a little slow as the three of us arrived for a pre-Christmas catch up over lunch and were shown up the large spiral staircase to a generously sized, very comfortable booth. There are gold mesh sliding screens, brass lanterns and 600 custom designed wok-lights which make for an impressive ceiling covering upstairs.
Reports from my brother and a few friends who had visited Spice Market before told me this wasn’t going to be a cheap experience, however we were handed a lunch / pre-theatre Bento Box Express menu, with four options between £15 and £20. Prices on the a la carte aren’t too extortionate either, with starters from £6.50 – £12 and mains averaging out to about £17. I do however take great issue to paying £6 for a bottle of beer, which doesn’t even come with a glass. We all know restaurants make great money on drinks but when it’s done this blatantly, I can’t help but feel a rage coming on and the wine list isn’t any better, with nothing under £30.
The a la carte is definitely more of a dinner menu so we decided to stick to the bento options and a couple of 6 piece sushi rolls on the side – one Spicy Tuna roll (£8) and a Tempura Shrimp roll (£7). Two of the four lunch time Bento Boxes whet our appetites but we all ended up opting for the classic.
Classic Bento (£15) – Spiced Chicken Samosa with Cilantro Yoghurt, Green Papaya Salad with Charred Long Beans, Tomatoes & Cashews, Cod with Malaysian Chilli Sauce, Thai Basil and Celery & Jasmine Rice.
Gourmet Bento (£20) – Shaved Tuna with Chilli Tapioca, Asian Pear, Coconut-Lime Dressing, Black Pepper Shrimp with Sun Dried Pineapple, Red Curried Duck with Pineapple Sambal & Sticky Rice.
The bento was as big as I could have hoped for the money (not very) but with the sushi on the side it was plenty for a lunch. My cod was well cooked but the chilli sauce hidden underneath seemed to lack any heat. The samosa was tasty with it’s fresh cilantro (coriander) yoghurt and the papaya salad was good despite it’s messy presentation, with a tasty dressing running through it.
Both sushi rolls were nice but nothing to write home about – you’ll get the same quality at many other, more reasonably priced restaurants in London.
I’m not sure how I feel about Spice Market. The setting is lovely and I like the fact the menu covers several regions of asian cuisine – the food’s good, but not exceptional, the service was average and I feel like they’re taking liberties with their drink pricing.
Maybe dinner off the a la carte menu is a different experience but as there’s no reason why lunch would be a lower standard I’m just not sure I’ll bother… unless someone else is paying, but if that’s the case then I’d definitely rather give Hakkasan a go!
|Classic Bento x 3||£15.00 each|
|Spicy Tuna Roll||£8.00|
|Shrimp Tempura Roll||£7.00|
W London Leicester Square
10 Wardour Street
London W1D 6QF