Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cafe Spice

The mystery goat.

Met up with Dai and Marco across the street from The Spro at Cafe Spice - the relatively new Indian restaurant where the Korean place used to be. Outside of Indian "favorites" such as aloo gobi and chicken tikka masala, I really don't know much about Indian food. I know some of it is hot, some of it is vegetarian and typically none of it is beef. Lots of lamb, goat and chicken.

In the few circumstances I've gone out to eat Indian food, it's been with friends for the lunchtime buffet. Depending on the restaurant, a literal smorgasbord of Indian foods - much of which we don't pay attention to beyond the "hmm, that looks good so I'll put it in my mouth" factor.

Which leaves me in a bit of a predicament when actually trying to order Indian cuisine off the menu. I don't have a clue and I refuse to get stuck in a rut of ordering only what I know.

Luckily, Marco is half Indian, half Italian and a subject of the British Empire (he's from London) which means that (happily) he's doing most of the ordering.

We start off with a couple of appetizers: samosas and fried balls of vegetables held together with some sort of batter. Both were quite tasty. The best thing about eating with someone who actually knows the food is that you get a real picture of what the cuisine is all about and how best to eat it. Marco downplays the rice and demonstrates how to tear a piece of naan (the very nicely done traditional flat bread) by using your right hand only to carefully tear a piece then drag it through your dish, sopping up the sauce and pieces of meat. No left hands! Evidently in Indian culture the left hand is used for washing your backside and you never use it for anything else. Lefties beware.

Each of us ordered a main course. Marco had a lamb course, Dai had chicken and I had goat. I would tell you the names of what we had but since they don't have an online menu, I can't recall their names. All I know is that Marco knew what he wanted and I asked the owner what she thought would be the best way to present the goat and went with her recommendation. Whatever it was, it was good. Lightly spicy, rich, complex and slightly sweet - a melange of flavors that went beautifully with the goat.

Indian meals come with side dishes of which I've never understood what to do with them until now. According to Marco, the yogurt is offered to mix in with your spoonful if the spice gets too hot and the weird-looking pickled thing actually is meant to be cut into small pieces and eaten with the main dish, it's pickled and spiciness adding a complimentary tang to the mouth.

Overall, we had a good time and the food was delicious. As someone who's experience with Indian cuisine has been quite limited, it's good to dine out with someone who knows their food. And according to my tastes, and confirmed by Marco, Cafe Spice offers a tasty and quite authentic Indian meal at decent prices.

Cafe Spice
321 York Road
Towson, MD 21204

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