Monday, 12 November 2012
The Balti House aka Shah's City Balti House aka Spice City, Liverpool
STOP PRESS: The following review originally appeared on my blog in 2010. I am now pleased to announce SPICE CITY has now reopened! Sadly, I'm living very far away from Liverpool again, but I can't wait to revisit this much-loved old haunt when I return next year. Fill your boots curryholics! Anyway, here's my original review for your perusal:
A catalogue of imodium moments.....
For me, the Balti House, renamed the Spice City, has always been one of those places that people warn you about, you know you shouldn't go, but somehow, you are severely tempted to give it another chance. My first visit was 1995 and my most recent visit was July 2009. Back in 1995, it was a glorious place to visit, with an impressive fountain under a bridge. You were even offered a free Bacardi or Baileys at the end of the meal and you were made to feel welcome. However, even in the glory days of the mid-90s, food poisoning was extremely common here (as a veggie, I was never affected but the meat eaters were). The restaurant has had numerous name changes, visits from environmental health and visits from Border Control over the years, giving it a dubious reputation. The business lunches were famous for being the cheapest and most plentiful in Liverpool as until 5 years ago, they were only £3.50 for a two course feast!
The business lunch consisted of a wholesome Dal soup to start and the choice of Bhajis or Popadoms, the main was a Korma, Madras or Rogan Josh. All the starters were beautiful and I enjoyed most of my curries here, despite what people told me about the place. I tucked into my Dal soup, lightly spiced with Cardamom, keeping the image of people I know suffering from Balti House-induced gastroenteritis out of my mind!
By the new Millenium, the fountain had been ripped out to make way for an extra table and the opulent interior was starting to look shabby. The booths were scratched and my feet were stuck firmly to the carpet. In my student days, it became an alternative to a meal deal from Boots and used to go with my classmates of a Friday. Christmas 2003 remains imprinted in my mind as 'The Eyelash Incident'. Us language students went to celebrate the last day before Xmas and I ordered a dessert. The ice cream had a piece of cardboard stuck to the bottom and it was obvious that it had defrosted and been frozen again. Then I saw it, a long black eyelash crowning the ice cream. Around the same time, my dad ordered a Chicken Tikka Biryani and when cut into, the chicken squirted out water and had a strange grey colour. The following day was another gastroenteritis incident.
Halfway through the decade, a new name and a staff change. I chanced it again on a flying visit from Germany. I was an air hostess back then and missed good curry as I was living abroad. The service was abyssmal and the staff were the infamous immigrants who border control busted. Our plates were slid along the table in the style of Jackie Chan performing Kung Fu.
2009. My final visit. I was sorely tempted to visit again and the quality went up tremendously. Balti House, now Spice City was back on top form and trying to win a place in my heart again. Juicy samosas and my spicy vindaloo proved to me that Spice City had definitely upped its game. The 70s style booths were still intact and the friendly service was back again, even down to its complimentary After Eight. Sadly, unbeknownst to me, this was going to be my last ever visit due to its closure in 2010. I had moved away from Liverpool by this time, so didn't get to say goodbye. Goodbye my curry, goodbye my friend.
Edited Nov 2012