A transformation has happened in Wexford town since 2009. Spice Restaurant was born. For Emma and Richard Lett, its conception came as a happy coincidence in appointing a chef from Southern India to work in their original daytime bistro in a different location in town. Manoj arrived and applied for a job as chef. During the years the bistro was open, he asked if he could make some of his traditional dishes from home as specials. The Letts’ said yes. Very soon his food became more popular than the choices they were already offering. When the opportunity to relocate to this upstairs premises in Monck Street came, it was a no brainer to decide to go Indian completely.
Spice is an intimate space, with contemporary style. Its muted spice colours and photographs add atmosphere and warm ambience. This is a smart restaurant with gracious good looks. Emma runs front of house with professional hostess service and generous Irish hospitality. Head Chef Manoj and brother Shijo run the kitchen meticulously. Here is a true marriage of Irish and Indian cultures. The two boys make everything from scratch. Dishes are cooked to order. Preparation is all to these guys. Both have five star hotel chef training and lengthy experience from their home in Southern India. Spices are whole and ground as needed. Pastes are made fresh daily. Meats are gently simmered in spices to tenderise and infuse flavour. All meats come from a butcher in town. Fish is fresh as can be from a Wexford fishmonger, and added at the last minute to the pan so it retains texture and freshness. Manoj says it’s exactly how it’s done at home. Southern Indian dishes are a speciality, though the menu has some familiar curry choices also. Watching Manoj in the kithen making a fresh Southern Indian fish curry is watching poetry in motion. Colourful spices, fragrant fresh herbs, lime, lemon, ginger and chilli, intensely flavoured fresh curry pastes, all ready and waiting to conjure magic. In the meantime, Shijo sets about making Naan bread. Dough is prepared just before service. He takes a ball of it, works it gently in his hands to form the familiar flat shape, then pops it on a special padded tool to stick it to the side of the Tandoori oven. Minutes later out it comes, to be brushed with butter and sprinkled with fresh herbs. The curry is ready also. Enjoy the feast. Follow the main with a house dessert – Europe meets India here and both chefs are well able dessert cooks. You won’t find any of those typical dessert menu cards with photographs of what you hope to get. Just well constructed house desserts that have a twist of the exotic about them.
Spice is a super spot for dinner. Elegant and friendly and right for any occasion, intimate or group gathering. Wines complement the food. Customers are generally a happy bunch. If you can’t eat in, grab a takeaway. Phone beforehand, and it will be ready when you want it. Freshly cooked to order like all the dishes served in the restaurant. Spice. It’s nice.