If there is one thing to be said about eating at an Indian restaurant it is you will always be spoilt for choice - and the Spice Garden in Stirling is no exception to that mouthwatering rule.
The adventure begins with a selection of pakoras, samosas and tandoori starters to consider, moves to special and spicy dishes including chat and poories, invites you to consider specialities of the house and specialities of the chef before offering vegetable and Western-style dishes with everything accompanied by various rice options, poppadoms, chapatis, parathas, chutneys and, of course, chips.
Given the book of temptation that is the Spice Garden menu, it is no surprise that after being given a warm welcome and shown to your table the next order of business for your waiter is to bring your drinks and a plate of poppadoms and chopped onions in spicy sauce to nibble through before leaving you alone to carefully consider your selections.
Audrey and I opted for the special platter for two to start with, a tasty adventure to be sure, consisting of tender chunks of chicken in a tangy sauce served with onions, aubergine, tomatoes and chickpeas with samosa and baji and a crispy side salad and cooling yoghurt on the side.
From the page of chef’s speciality dishes I was drawn to the butter chicken tikka masala. The diced breast which had been marinated in yoghurt then mixed with the expected delicate blend of herbs and spices and roasted tandoori style before being cooked in a thick red sauce which was pleasantly mild did not disappoint.
The opportunity to try the Goanese fish with prawns also left Audrey delighted. Chunky pieces of haddock deep fried in butter then cooked in yoghurt, coconut, fresh green chillies (not too many at her request), herbs and spices.
Both our main courses were served with rice and nan bread which complemented the main meal.
Sweet was sweet, an ice cream sundae for me with strawberry sauce and crushed nuts and chocolate covered vanilla ice cream topped with toffee the delicious selection for Audrey to complete an exceptional eating-out experience.
The Spice Garden modestly promises ‘delightful food served in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere’ and delivers on every count.
We were particularly impressed by the attentive rather than overbearing approach of the waiters. Sometimes having someone looking over your shoulder from a few yards away can be off-putting and tends to make you rush your courses.
This is not the environment you will encounter at the Spice Garden.
Their low-key approach, while still being right there to efficiently remove the empty plates and replenish the water, was another satisfying part of an excellent evening out.
The Spice Garden, 23 Allan Park, Stirling FK8 2LT (opposite Allan Park Cinema). Telephone (01786) 447139 www.spicegardenstirling.com.