In my office, it seems to be more normal to commute an hour to work than to be native to the area (Swindon). Consequently, when it comes to eating out, our limited knowledge of the area means we always go to the same three restaurants and pub within a five minute walk. There’s nothing wrong with these places at all, but, having previously worked near Oxford Street in London, the lack of variety did come as a bit of a shock at first!
But for a recent evening do we pushed our boundaries; following the recommendation of the one local on our team, we tried out Jack Spice, an Indian restaurant about five minutes’ walk from Swindon station.
The first thing that struck me about the restaurant was quite how extensive the menu was – and how many of the dishes on it I wanted to try. Each one is also handily labelled with a recommendation like ‘suitable for everybody’, ‘not recommended for children’ or (perhaps slightly confusingly) ‘suitable for non-curry eaters’ (I assume by this they mean curry newcomers or people who avoid the spicier/more traditional options…). This makes it a perfect venue for something like a work meal where you’re catering for lots of different people and tastes.
After much deliberation, I eventually went with the Lamb Korai, a ‘highly spiced’, tomato-based dish served sizzling in a pot. I also shared a Pashwari Naan and Basmati rice with colleagues. The lamb was lovely and it was certainly full of flavour, but I’d say it was a relatively mild dish – if you were expecting ‘highly spiced’ to mean it had a bit of a tang then you would be disappointed. That said, it was a ‘recommended for everybody’ dish, which does, I suppose, suggest it’s unlikely to be particularly hot.
However the mild nature of the dishes was a common comment from the table; everyone agreed that their dishes were tasty, but lacked that heat you usually expect from an Indian meal, especially ones rated medium or even hot.
Sadly that wasn’t the only downside; I personally found the Peshwari Naan – usually one of my favourite things about an Indian meal – to be a little on the plain side. It was perfectly fine, but nothing more, and certainly as sweet as I’d have liked.
On the plus side, the prices were really reasonable. Depending on the meat you choose, a main dish could cost as little as £5.95, and very little – if anything – cost more than £10. The rice and naan weren’t quite as good value at £2.50 and £2.75 respectively; not exactly expensive (or even more expensive than normal), but just not a great price considering the size of the rice and quality of the naan. (Also worth noting is that, from memory – it was a few weeks ago now! – my main was more expensive than the price advertised on the website due to the meat I chose so just be aware than this could be the case for all meals. But it’s still very affordable.)
Overall Jack Spice was a perfectly pleasant place for a meal out. Decent service, decent interior and decent food. It’s not the best Indian I’ve ever experienced (or even in my top five). But it was still mostly nice – just slightly lacking in sweetness and/or spice. Despite these shortcomings, I’d still recommend it for someone looking for a curry close to Swindon town or station – just don’t expect to be needing milk to wash down the meal!
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor