This Hip Walthamstow Vegan Indian Joint Combines Substance And Style Brilliantly
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These days, we think you can judge just how hip an area of London is by how many vegan eateries it's home to. We're not being facetious — at least, we're not trying to be. It's just that many vegan restaurants and cafes have emerged in the past couple of years in cool locations, that pay more attention to style than substance. Even if London's vegan movement didn't begin as a ploy at trendiness, it's hard not to be cynical about some of the recent openings. From the vividly painted frontage it's all too easy to cast new opening Spicebox, as merely a stepping stone in Walthamstow's ascent to coolness.
But that would be a mistake... of epic proportions. Spicebox stands head and shoulders above the glut of vegan openings London's had in recent months.
Things kick off with starters from the street snacks menu, and everything looks tempting. We opt for the sharing platter, which arrives neatly in a tiffin carrier. Our waiter unstacks the tin, each compartment revealing another item of wonder and amazement. We recently had a tiffin carrier delivered to Londonist Towers and we all stared at it in bemusement. It sat, gathering dust, for weeks. Little did we know the levels of imagination that could be crafted inside one, like a deconstructed onion bhaji or chana chaat — a surprisingly filling chickpea based salad.
For mains we focus on the Chick'n Korma, and Shroom Keema. The Keema is an (intentionally) dry curry, so goes better with bread than rice. And that's just what we do, blanketing it up in roti as if we're creating some sort of curry swirl, and dig in. And what a meaty curry swirl it is, each bite bringing a sense of deep satisfaction and amazement — how do you create such a perfect mince texture using... *checks menu...* mushroom and walnut? Whatever the secret is, keep it coming.
The Chick'n Korma doesn't go quite as far to disguise itself as meat, but what it lacks in beguiling texture it makes up for in exquisite flavour. It goes perfectly with the three grain pilau rice: a cumin-y mix of quinoa, bulgur wheat and brown rice, almost worth having alone. And yes, the presence of those grains will alert the eagle-eyed that this is a restaurant that cares about healthy food. We've seen many lesser Indians make up for a lack of flavour by piling on the grease, but that is not the case at Spicebox.
We finish off with the daunting Banana Chai Doffle. And when we say 'finish off', it's a case of the food finishing us off, rather than the other way round. We are absolutely defeated by the enticing mix of waffles banana and vegan ice cream. What we can eat manage has a perfect blend of savoury and sweet (we're complete suckers for the presence of cardamon in a dessert). Oh well, we'll save the rest of it — along with everything else on the menu that we didn't get to try — for our next visit.
Spicebox, 58 Hoe Street, E17 4PG
Last Updated 25 February 2019