By Grahame Anderson
The quaint Spice Lounge Indian restaurant at St Nicholas Cottage in Durham City has re-opened again following a sudden three day closure that baffled regulars. They were told on the restaurants facebook page they had to close due to unforeseen circumstances.
Then on October 6th a message appeared on the social media platform saying: “Hello ladies and gentlemen we are delighted to announce we will be reopening the restaurant today, 3 days of closing has enabled us to re-strategise and rejuvenate our team spirit, we would like to thank all our customers for your continued support and long may it continue, we look forward to serving you again.”
Solving The Mystery
Asian Sunday however, has discovered there was a perfectly legitimate reason for the sudden decision to shut it’s doors however, as Manager Akram Mia explained to me: “Unfortunately the weekend before last we discovered an electrical fault on the premises, which meant we had to close for three days for everyone’s safety. It also meant we had to apologise to the customers booked to dine with us as the problem held the business and the staff back from providing the quality service and experience they deserve.
“To be frank since the Eat Out To Help out scheme ended we’ve struggled as a business as numbers have gone down. We thought about our own scheme but because of the high quality of our chicken for example, which is expensive to buy, it just wasn’t sustainable.”
The restaurant has been feeding regulars and visitors to Durham for more than 16 years, steadily building a high class reputation for both its food and service.
Paul Harris a satisfied client said: “Had a meal here in August. Excellent food ,great service and reasonably priced. Recommend the Chicken Tikka Dhansak(without the pineapple).Best Dhansak I have had in Durham.”
Another happy visitor added: “Excellent food – huge portions Very fresh and unique dishes – had a lamb special which was amazing staff were very friendly and efficient Very good Covid 19 protection screens in place – Defo best in Durham.”
Top cooks from popular Durham restaurants The Capital, on Claypath, and the Spice Lounge were invited to travel across the globe to show off their best dishes in the country where their cuisine was born.
Syed Noor Hussain was one of just five British chefs chosen to show what the UK has to offer at an international curry festival held in Bangalore recently, which celebrated the best of British-style curries. The Taste of Britain Curry Festival was held at the luxury ITC Windsor hotel in the city, modelled after the Windsor Castle.
He told us: “This was very exciting for me to be part of this prestigious event. I am always up for a new challenge, but this one was very unique.” Dominic McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner in Bangalore, threw his weight behind the festival, and praised the British participants.
He said: “It was a real pleasure to welcome the Taste of Britain Curry Festival team in the city of Bangalore. Curry, which originates from India, is now of course one of the most favourite food of British people. “Taste of Britain here has demonstrated that, not only we have good curry in the UK, we have the best food on offer and best talents too.”
Facing The Future
Akram whose restaurant has recently won the Chef Of The Year Award added: “We normally have a lot of official people book parties and get-togethers at Christmas including those from Durham County Council and others. But so far our order book is empty. And of course many other local restaurants are in the same boat.
“We did our maths, crunched some numbers and looked at closing for between four and five weeks because of the pandemic, but realised it could affect our staff even more. Sadly as a small restaurant we’ve had to let three staff go already.
“It’s so important for people to help their local businesses even if it’s just a single visit. The catering industry is vitally important to all communities, and we’ll keep fighting to provide the service for which we are renown.”
The mystery now over, The Spice Lounge is very much open for business presenting the very best in Indian food. They look forward to seeing you soon.
New opening time
Monday – closed
Tuesday to Sunday 6pm – 10pm
Delivery & Collection Available Tues – Sun