Spice Empire, Sunderland
Posted: 06 Aug 2011
SPICE EMPIRE, SUNDERLAND
Taking a trip to the Sunderland Empire and looking for a good pre-theatre meal? Wearside’s newest restaurant Spice Empire is literally just over the road. Situated in what was previously one of Sunderland’s finest Italian restaurants Amalfi, Spice Empire has taken on a tough challenge as upstairs is the long established and ever popular Motiraj Tandoori.
First impressions are positive as the airy, mirrored interior welcomes you into a spacious bar area but we were taken straight to our table. All of the main courses are under a tenner but this being Thursday night we’re going for the five courses for £8.95, being a few quid short of the last of the big spenders.
Being a vegetarian, Indian restaurants are normally a good bet for me but veggie options are in short supply with only two of 22 starters being suitable choices. Eschewing the omnipresent onion bhaji I go for the vegetable samosas which are pretty good and served with a small salad. Meanwhile my non-veggie better half has ordered oregano chicken which she thought looked lost on a big plate, but the quality was better than the quantity being tender and skilfully flavoured.
We’ve learned to turn down the pickles and popadoms Indian restaurants like to occupy you with while you wait for your meal to be prepared but on-the-house popadoms arrive nonetheless. Thankfully no pickles though which means we have a sporting chance of completing our meal without hitting the ‘wall’ that normally hits us after we’ve scoffed assorted pickles and nan breads instead of saving ourselves for the main event.
Tonight the main event is chicken posanda with nut pilau rice for my wife and vegetable chandni for me. The posanda was mild and beautifully tasty, with the excellent nut pilau rice dominated by cashews. The vegetable chandni was exceptionally good and the main course portions were much better than you might imagine on a cheap specials menu.
Courses four and five consisted of straightforward ice cream and coffee and with a couple of pints of ice cold Kingfisher lager and a bottle of Cobra beer the bill for the night comes to £26.20.
The obligatory flock wallpaper is complemented by two young ladies resplendent in fabulous traditional Indian garments along with a small army of attentive and efficient waiters.
Overall Spice Empire is a welcome addition to Sunderland’s under-rated culinary delights and if you are heading to the Empire Theatre then you can be finishing your coffee as the curtain comes up and not need to miss the start of the show.
3 Church Lane,
Tel 0191 565 7750
Open every day, 4.30 pm ‘til late.
Five course specials on Thursdays and Sundays for £7.95