The Spice Lounge Durham Indian Restaurant Review

The Spice Lounge Durham is a little Indian Restaurant that we’ve been going to for years, but it’s hidden away behind the Market Place, so you have to know where it is or you’ll probably be looking for it for weeks without finding it. It’s tucked away in a little alley, down between the Durham Indoor Market and St. Nicholas’ Church. It’s long and narrow and you just wouldn’t expect to find it there. The entrance is through a small door, and once inside the little foyer, with it’s ‘fish-tank-esque’ window, you are in front of the bar area. Once again, we hadn’t booked (need to get that sorted out), but after only about 5 minutes wait they found us a table. Hot diggety, no trouble.

spice lounge entrance

The waiters are all smartly turned out in trousers and waistcoats and are very attentive, getting our drinks sorted out as priority before taking the food order. We stuck with Cobra Beer (mega bottles) and a house White wine. We also got complimentary glasses of water just in case the food was too hot. The menus are nice and clean, bound stylishly and are well laid out, making choosing our meal very easy. Starting with poppadoms and pickles, they were plentiful and tasty, and as usual, we made a mess of the nice crisp table cloth. Sorry guys! Pickles were fresh and zingy. I always gauge the pickles by the Lime, and this was sharp and spicy without tasting of soap like some Indian Restaurants seem to serve (why is that?).

spice lounge staff

The girls played it nice and mild, ordering the Lamb and Chicken Pasanda, done in fresh cream with yoghurt, cous-cous, almonds and cashew nuts. Us blokes went for the ubiquitous Chicken Tandoori Masala and I decided Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi was the thing for me. Rather than the food coming in little bowls over a candle powered warmer, the meals are in dishes, like soup-bowls, which is a bit unusual, but cuts down on the table clutter. The Jalfrezi came served as a sizzler, so the waiter spooned it in while balancing the sizzler and plate precariously on his arm. It looked impossible to do without covering himself and us with sauce, but he managed without spilling a drop. Vegetable Pilao Rice was nice and fluffy and the Peshwari Naan passed the Mrs DFD test (it’s the only Naan she’ll order).

The bill at Spice Lounge Durham came to about 75 quid between us, including drinks, so quite reasonable and they didn’t try to hurry us out of our seats afterwards, which was nice as we just wanted to sit and talk for a bit. Highlight of the night was the customer who leaned back a little too far on his chair and went a**e over t*t, thanks to a helpful nudge from his Mrs. I thought only kids did this, but it was pretty funny, and he wasn’t hurt, just a bit embarassed. We tried not to mock and point, but it was difficult 😉

spice lounge serving food

Spice Lounge, Durham Menu

Price : £75 for four

Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 9, Food : 8, Value : 8

eight

The Spice Lounge,
St. Nicholas Cottage,
Market Place,
Durham,
DH1 3NJ
Tel : 0191 3830927

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Palm Sugar Durham Thai Takeaway Review

Palm Sugar Durham was a name given to me by my works travelling companion Tom. It’s a Thai/Asian place that has only recently opened in Claypath, above another much longer established Indian Restaurant, The Capital. We like Thai, and Indian, so it’s like double-decker food heaven.

palm sugar durham dining room

We fancied a Thai or Indian meal, but couldn’t really be bothered to go out, so started looking on Just Eat for inspiration, and found that Palm Sugar were listed, so thought we’d check out their takeaway service. We ordered Crispy Duck Pancake as an appetiser, followed by a Green Chicken Curry with regular boiled rice and Beef Ginger with an egg fried rice accompaniment. Palm Sugar don’t currently offer a delivery service (that may need to change in future), so we had to pick it up. This proved not to be easy, as parking in Claypath is at a bit of a premium, and there were lots of traffic wardens swarming around, trying to capture poor unsuspecting hungry people, so I had to get dropped off and Mrs. Durham Food and Drink drove around the block until I had laid my hands on the bounty. This wasn’t as much a delay as it sounds, as the order was ready when I got there and it only took a couple of minutes to get in and out again, thankfully without falling up or down the stairs.

“Welcome to Palm Sugar@The Auction House. We will bring you the very best of Thai-Pan-Asian Cuisine right to your doorstep. With a reputation of authenticity and excellence, great food, inspiring ambiance and a friendly service. Thai-Pan-Asian cuisine is popular for it’s subtle blending of flavour, utilising herbs and roots such as lemongrass, basil, coriander, galangal, cinnamon, garlic and chillies. Our menu has an extensive choice of 85 dishes for a complete Thai-Pan-Asian culinary experience.”

The meal would have been a bit on the pricey side, but Palm Sugar offered 20% off online, so it came in at £26. There was enough food to feed four of us, so £6.50 each wasn’t too bad, and boy was it tasty! The duck pancakes were pretty traditional, with enough to make 7-8 rolls, with Hoi-Sin Sauce and cucumber strips. The only small gripe was that the duck was a little on the tough side in places, but it still went down.

And then to the main course. Yes, it’s hot! We certainly were reminded about the zinginess of Thai food after this, but it wasn’t like the lingering afterburn of an Indian Vindaloo, but rather the subtle kick of ginger and spices, then a gradual cool down without turning us into burns victims, only fit for a spell in the University Hospital A&E ward. The chicken was presented in nice bite sized chunks, and the ginger beef just melted in the mouth. Watch out for the hidden chillies though! The rice was light and cooling in contrast, helping to dilute the heat of the main meal. A nice, balanced range of tastes overall. Am getting hungry again just writing this.

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Overall, a really nice takeaway, and we look forward to visiting Palm Sugar again for a proper sitty-down meal in the near future. We’ll review that one a bit later for you, when we can.

Now, where’s that waist band extender?

Price : £26 for four


Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 8, Food : 8, Value : 7

palm sugar durham rating eight

Palm Sugar
First Floor
The Auction House
69 Claypath
Durham
DH1 1QT
0191 3863858

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El Coto Durham Tapas Restaurant Review

El Coto Durham is a cute little place we’ve noticed in passing and have wanted to visit for some time. It’s tucked away up past the students union in New Elvet, right next to where the old driving test centre used to be. So, with a free slot in our hectic schedule (currently moving house) we parked up in Old Elvet and legged it up the bank.

el coto durham tapas restaurantFirst impressions from the outside are that it looks very small and it looks very closed. It was about 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. Closer inspection of the menu in the window revealed a chink of light and it was in fact open for business and that there was a special offer of 3 tapas selections for about 11 quid, so being greedy for a bargain, we went in.

The tiny facade opens out when you go in the front door, like stepping into the Tardis. The place goes back a lot farther than we thought, with rustic fittings, big holes in walls, big mirrors and old railway sleepers decorating the walls, well trodden wood flooring making it look like it’s been lived in for about 40 years. A small bar is just inside the front door, so you can have a ‘primer’ before a meal, but there wasn’t anyone behind the bar, so we found a seat ourselves. Four lads with big floppy hair cuts were the only patrons, enjoying their lunch with a bit of boyish silliness thrown in. ‘Hotel California’ massaged our ears from the music system, in Spanish. The warm smell of colitas seemed even more intoxicating as it rose up through the air.

The waitress was with us in less than a minute, taking our drinks order and bringing our menus.

Two  glasses of San Miguel settled us in quite nicely. The special offers were on a separate menu, which we had to ask for specifically, but there was lots of commonality with the standard one, so no problems there with selection. We picked 6 items (olive bread, spanish salad, meatballs, tiger prawns/chilli, chicken/garlic and chorizo) and waited with baited breath. Well, we actually had another beer.

The salad and bread arrived first, within about 10 mins of ordering and there was an enormous amount of both. The salad was nice fresh and crispy. The tapas arrived as soon as we finished our salad, and I have to say the portion sizes were much larger than other tapas places i’ve been to. OK, I haven’t been to many, but I know a big plate of tucker when I see one. Food quality was very good, service was also excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the fact that the bill only came to 26 English Pounds including the San Miguel.

We liked El Coto. A lot. The only real grouse was that the menus were a bit tatty around the edges , and that the restaurant would probably do better if it actually looked open! 🙂

We’ll definitely return here, with other foodies in tow.

Price : £25.90 (for two)

Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 7, Service : 8, Food : 7, Value : 7

el coto durham rating seven

El Coto,
Restaurante Español,
17 Hallgarth Street,
Durham
DH1 3AT
0191 3844007
Email : durham@elcoto.co.uk

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