Few restaurants are as luxe as Spice Affair in Beverly Hills. The gold adornments, the fountain out front, the suited and booted staff: I felt like an actual pop star coming here, a man apart.
The beauty of this place isn’t just skin deep, though. I don’t know that I’ve seen a restaurant throw down with such bold and sometimes decadent choices, serving flavor combinations that are immediately pleasing and rich and unforgettable. I’ve been thinking about this meal all week.
I kicked off the evening with curry leaf chicken, a wise choice. It was perfectly cooked with a texture similar to orange chicken, but with mild to spicy notes that instantly made me rock back in my seat. It was like comfort food I’ve never had before, familiar to the palate but with more warmth and depth than expected.
The coco-li-flower was another exquisite appetizer. The taste of this dish is probably the most familiar days after eating it. The cauliflower is crisp and blanketed in coconut sauce, a sweet twist on a very-familiar food. I’ve never, ever liked cauliflower, but I would eat this by the truckload.
The menu claims ‘you can’t believe it’s vegan,’ and I really couldn’t. I was shocked, assumed butter must have been involved. Kudos to the chef for keeping me healthy.
Next up was duck kebab, a marinated and oven-finished morsel interlaced with onions and peppers. This was surprisingly light, despite the savory ingredients and rich duck fat.
It felt like a very-satisfying starter, a well-seasoned snack with tasty accouterments.
The lamb pepper spice and layered vegetable biryani were co-headliners – Sonny and Cher, Faith and Tim, Beyonce and her husband. They were the dishes I most looked forward to, indulgent and indigenous.
The lamb was a high-quality cut of meat, prepared with minimal fuss, save for the aforementioned pepper and sauces. It was succulent and powerful, a bold yet mature taste. It’s the kind of dish I could have every night, discovering new ways to love it despite its simplicity.
Biryani is my baby. I once spent an entire half-year eating biryani and veggie patties from Trader Joes. I order it any and every time it’s on the menu.
This was the best I’ve had. A perfect blend of veggies and that subtly sweet biryani taste, I wish I had it in front of me.
I want to quickly highlight three things.
First, the Mumbai mule is to die for. Well-mixed, powerful and springy –shoutout to ginger beer – I loved.
Second, the staff here is impeccable. Fast and focused and genuinely invested in your experience.
Lastly, “Brink” Brinker, the title character of the movie ‘Brink!’, sat four feet from me most of the meal. I played it off cool as hell, but we definitely made eye contact. Basically best friends.
This was a delight, so glad to have this experience, to taste faithful yet-daring Indian food in a meticulously designed and regal dining room.
I’ll gladly get caught having this affair over and over again.