There’s nothing like a good curry to blast the pallette with a dose of spice, to warm you up and add a bit of cheer to a crisp night. On a cool October night we decided that was just what we were in need of and tried to guess which Queenstown curry purveyors would be up to the task. Curiously, for a town built on pleasing tourists of every ilk, and plenty of cold days and nights, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘‘go to’’ place that immediately springs to mind when you think ‘I need curry’. We went downtown and headed for the first Indian restaurant we came across – The Spice Room.
We arrived early on a weekday night, so at the first stage of dining were the only customers there. That meant we got lots of attention from the waiter, who explained some of the fine points of the spices contained within the various dishes on our hit list, and guided us through our final selections very nicely. We kicked off with Samosa and Onion Bhaji (both $9.90). These were great, and the dipping sauces really set them off. Taking the waiter’s guidance into account we went for the Chicken Biryani and Fish Malbari (both $23.90). With the fish dish I didn’t want to be one of those punters that asks ‘‘Is the fish fresh?’’. Asking this question in Queenstown, which is landlocked and a few hours from the closest hint of an ocean breeze is pretty much redundant unless you’re sitting at a table in one of the specialist seafood or fine dining restaurants. However our waiter, without prompting, told us the fish had been frozen and therefore could not be specified as fresh. Top points for disclosure. When they came, the mains were up to expectation. We both ordered medium on the hotness scale – the spice was balanced out nicely in terms of the other flavours in the dishes and the naans we ordered were straight out of the tandoor oven. As were we eating an Australian family was seated and ordered. The also received lots of attention and explanation of all the possible selections. Aussie dad mentioned that he’d checked Trip Advisor for curries in Queenstown, and Spice Room had come out with top points. As mentioned, the service was exceptional. If you can learn a bit through the act of narrowing down your selections based on the expertise offered through your waiter, then that is a good sign and will add to your general dining prowess. Now I can impress dining buddies with my newly gained insight into the world of Indian spices, some of their properties and effects on the pallette. So top score here.
The Spice Room isn’t particularly lavish, or doesn’t even appear to have had too much thought put into the decor, or atmosphere. These guys seem to be about curry, expertly done with lots of effort put into customer interaction during the ordering process, so is pretty much a blank canvas on atmosphere. This is not to say it couldn’t be improved upon. A quick makeover and a bit of thought into atmosphere could really cement these guys as the ‘go to’ place in Queenstown for curry.
Go get your curry from The Spice Room. It’ll warm you up and give you a good dose of spice - all the things a good curry’s supposed to do.