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We may reside in the Forest of Dean, but we can still enjoy the flavours of the mystical East. Local food doesn’t have to be traditional English fare.
In fact, one of the things I enjoy most about living in the UK is our relaxed attitude towards other cultures’ cuisine. Even in a county like Gloucestershire (not exactly the most cosmopolitan part of England), we see Indian takeaways, kebab shops, Far Eastern restaurants and Polish grocery shops on our local high streets.
Old habits die hard
Literally the first thing I did upon moving to the Forest of Dean was find an Indian takeaway. Having moved from the South East of England, I’d generally grown to consider a good Indian takeaway on a Sunday to be the equivalent of a roast dinner. In fact, walking through the back alleys of the terraced streets on a Sunday afternoon, you were more likely to smell Eastern spices than roast beef.
The eternal quest for the perfect Indian takeaway/restaurant
So, where could a person obtain a good lamb jalfrezi round these parts? What about a peshwari naan or a saag paneer? Where can you get decent a Bangladeshi or South Eastern Indian meal?
To answer these questions, WyeDean Deli is now on a mission to discover the very best Indian takeaways and restaurants in and around the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley!
Before we give you the lowdown, let’s make it absolutely clear that we paid for our meal in full, so this article is completely unbiased. That’s what this blog is all about!
WyeDean Deli’s review of The River Spice at The Forge Hammer, Lower lydbrook
Well, what can we say about Wye Dean Deli Confidential crew social event on Friday night?
We’ve already done some considerable research on local Indian restaurants, but to kick off our research the four of us chose the River Spice in Lower Lydbrook
Mission to find top 10 local Indian eateries
Our mission is quite simply is to find the top 10 best “Indian” restaurants in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley! The River Spice was a great start to our little project.
Great atmosphere at The Forge Hammer & The River Spice
The restaurant is tucked away neatly at the back of The Forge Hammer pub. There was a deliciously subtle smell of Indian spices upon entering the crowded bar. This busy little local becomes packed on a Friday with folks enjoying their start to the weekend. However, it can be a tad off putting to have the overwhelming ‘smell of restaurant’ in a bar – even a good one. Nevertheless, this didn’t seem to be an issue at The Forge Hammer.
After a quick drink in the bar (which serves some great beers), we took our seats in the restaurant. Granted, it does look like pub restaurant, but it happens to have an extremely warm and welcoming atmosphere. The tables are set out with generous spacing between them. So, it’s easy to feel at home with your own group.
Ali (owner) and his front of house team are extremely friendly and professional. They really do make you feel at home straight away. We love well trained, friendly and naturally hospital restaurateurs and waiters. The attitude of owners and staff can completely make or break your evening – in fact, it can be as important as the quality of the food.
Confident and considerate staff make you feel at ease
You’ll find confident and considerate staff at The River Spice, who are able to expertly engage with the customer. This ability is a real skill, and the four of us found that it added to the overall experience.
Ali (who also owns a restaurant in Cheltenham) clearly knows how to do this well and so do his staff – this tells you everything you need to know about Ali’s ethics and how highly the staff are valued.
Now for the food part – poppadums…
The poppadum’s were delicious and light, served with good portions of lime pickle and all requisite condiments.
Salmon Dill Tikka.
Murgh Malai Shahnaz (a fab chicken starter with a gorgeous, and very mustardy sauce on the side).
Two plates of very nice Sheek Kebabs – just as they should be , meat coloured and very tangy with good green chilli and coriander flavours.
The Main course
For mains, we went for:
Two portions of chicken Chettinad, which is made with succulent pieces of chicken in a rich, deep and spicy sauce. We all agreed that it was delicious.
Dum Dahi with cashew nut gravy – top marks for that.
Munnar chicken curry, which was to die for.
Our ‘Indian’ litmus test
We think a decent tarka dal (spicy lentils) is the litmus test for the quality of an Indian restaurant. This dish was rich with a great consistency and very garlicky to boot– so full points there too.
The tandoori roti breads were light with crispy bits and great for scooping sauces up. We also found out that the Kadala side (chickpea) dish was too nice to share with anyone.
Note from Bex:
“I fully admit to getting territorial over my chickpeas!”
Innovative dishes available at The River Spice
This is exactly what it says on the tin, and you’ll even find them labeled as ‘Innovative Dishes’ on the menu! They also deliver!
With a growing number of rave reviews from visitors on Trip Advisor, The River Spice has the potential to be a contender for the final top ten. And yes, we paid the bill – we always do – business is tough enough without free-loading journo’s, and it’s how we at Wye Dean Deli Confidential stay independent.
So, we’d be interested to know your views on the River Spice or your personal favourite “Indian”.
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