I read recently (I can’t remember where) that takeaways are a bit like radio stations – you tend to stick to your favorites, for better or worse. You feel safe with what you know and wouldn’t want to spin the dial to see if there is anything better. It’s all a lottery finding something better.
Preston has dozens of Indian takeaways but how do you know what’s out there? If you do hear of a good one would you risk trying it? Well, there is no Tripadvisor for take-out. Not that I know about anyway. Some have reviews on their own sites but can you trust them.
Well, that’s where we here at Blog Preston come in useful. We will boldly go out, taking our life in our hands and try these places out for you.
We have our own favorite Indian takeaway but in the spirit of adventure traveled across the city to sample food at The Spice Lounge on Blackpool Road.
Located just across from Tulketh Mill The Spice Lounge has been quietly building a reputation for one of the best Indian takeouts in Preston. I visited when it first opened but that was for a pizza (they do pizzas, burgers and kebabs as well).
They have an extensive menu with a delightfully different choice of dishes, although all the old favourites are still available.
Best bit (if you are not ordering a delivery) is the fully open kitchen so you can watch the chefs prepare, cook and bag up your food. You can see if your food is cooked fresh or have a chat if you are that way inclined.
From the starters the Bengol Seekh Kebab sounded interesting. Never heard of this before. Ground lamb with a spicy blend of onions and green chillies (£2.95). Happily they turned out to be lovely little sausage shaped kebabs. Juicy and very tasty but not sure what made them Bengali-style. Quite popular at the Lounge I have been told.
Got to have an Onion Bhaji or two (£2.20) with a curry. Nothing wrong with these. Big balls of fresh deep fried onion. You can’t mess around with a bhaji.
Prawn Puri (£2.50) is normally on my list of starters and this one was one of the biggest I have ever had. A huge portion and a bargain for the price. The fact that the filling was not wrapped up in the lightly fried pancake meant more filling! A zingingly hot and deliciously tasty prawn mixture. Very good, though a meal in itself.
Away from the traditional curries, we thought like experimenting with Spice Lounge specials. That way we could see what they were all about.
I like my curries hot. Can’t see the point of the mild sauces. If I ever have to have a Korma, I always mix it with a chilli rice or something spicy. Only at weekends though when no work the next day!
The Spice Lounge Lava curry got my attention. Billed as hot and spicy, prepared with fresh coriander, green chillies, green pepper and a rich smooth sauce finished with a hint of tomato juice. I loved this. Tasted very sharp and fresh. A delicate but robust curry and very, very spicy. Not artificially hot. Green Chilli hot.
I like the fact you can see the ingredients, lots of green chunks and strips of chilli. Garnish with juicy red onion rings. With a lot of Indian take-out food the sauces are blended so much they look and taste like paste with no texture. Here you can see what has gone into the dish. No grease. Very tasty and definitely one I will go back for.
Another hot dish that sounds great from the menu is Coriander Chicken. I love coriander and it goes particularly well with both curry and chicken. Made from diced chicken tikka cooked in thick sauce with spring onion, green pepper, garlic, ginger, green chilli and tomatoes it was another winner. A brilliant curry. The smell of the coriander was exquisite and the taste even better. All the ingredients blended perfectly and like the Lava, you can see them! Lots of green – the abundance of chilli made this very high on the hotness scale but not that it dulled the taste buds. Another dish on the list to re-visit.
For a little medium heat we tried the Balti Garlic Chicken. Plenty of fresh herbs again. The aromas were wonderful. However, the dark, thick sauce was far too salty for my liking. Also, it didn’t really have that distinctive balti taste. Although pegged as medium heat it provided a kick. A dangerous garlic dish though. No fine chopping here. Enormous chunks of garlic. Definitely keep the vampires away this one.
Sri Lanka Chicken seemed to be a bit unusual so thought we would have a go. It sounded a cross between Peshwari and a Samber. For texture it was, but not for taste. Cooked with ‘special blend’ of herbs and spices blended in coconut it is dark yellow/brown in colour. I couldn’t work out what was in it (apart from the coconut). Taste wise it was edging on bland and again, like the Balti far too salty. The curry was smooth in texture but I felt it needed some citrus sharpness of maybe lemon or lime to liven it up. Menu said fairly hot. It was HOT. Bit disappointing and not one I would come back to.
For some reason we had chicken with all the dishes. Glad to say with each dish the chicken was not only plentiful but juicy, tender and well cooked. Cooked in strips from the breast and not those unappetising chunks of dry chicken you are sometimes given in takeaways.
There are several other ‘specials’ on the menu that need investigating. Tawa Gosht, a dry dish cooked with lamb tikka, tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs, and Shathkora, a medium spiced sharp dish cooked with citrus fruit (shathkora) and fresh coriander. Both of these sound tempting.
If you want to leave the choice to the chef try the Asian Style Chefs Special. Just let him choose and prepare you a dish using his own creative recipe ideas. Be disappointing if he just came back with a Korma though!
I was impressed with the variety of the menu at the Spice Lounge., definitely more interesting than most. Price range not too bad and good sized portions. Great quality, fresh, flavorsome ingredients with the spice level set at ‘high’. I will be going back soon.
All the above chicken dishes are £5.95 with rice or chips extra
393 Blackpool Road
Value for money 4/5
Have you tried the food at The Spice Lounge? What did you think?