Name: Herb & Spice
Status: Closed
Area: Spitalfields
Address: 11 White's Row
London E1 7NF
Phone: 020 7247 4050

Visits to this restaurant ...

1. 24 Feb 2000|2. 28 Nov 2002|3. 27 Mar 2003|4. 29 Jul 2004|5. 31 Mar 2005
6. 22 Feb 2007|7. 31 Jan 2008|8. 26 Nov 2009|9. 27 Oct 2011|10. 28 Aug 2014

"The sweetest man in England" with Aneta, our Polish (unofficial) guest.

Visit Report

Visit Number: 173 (visit 10 of 10 for this restaurant)
Date of visit: 28 Aug 2014
Cost per head: £28.00 (1.5 beers)

Serv Amb Beer Start Nan Rice Main Veg VFM Score Comments
Overall 5.1 5.9 5.4 6.5 6.8 6.4 7.2 6.6 6.4 6.34
Dave 5 8 6 9 7 7 10 7 7 7.7 See Dave's comments
Mark 5 8 6 4 7 8 7 7 6.5 See Mark's comments
Jon 6 6 7 6 7 7 9 8 8 7.2 See Jon's comments
Jeff 4 8 5 7 8 7 7 6 7 6.6 See Jeff's comments
Neil 5 6 3 6 8 6 6 10 7 6.3 See Neil's comments
Graeme 4 7 6 7 6 6 7 6 6 6.2 See Graeme's comments
Richard 3 1 4 5 6 5 5 4 3 4.1 See Richard's comments
Brian 7 4 7 6 7 7 8 6 7 6.7 See Brian's comments
Tim 7 5 5 8 5 7 6 7 6 6.3 See Tim's comments
Dominic 5 6 5 7 5 6 5 6 5.7 See Dominic's comments

All Comments

Dave - Beware Herb and Spice waiters bearing gifts! Both popadoms (all plain) and cobra beers were brought to the table without asking and when I enquired whether they were therefore free it was clear they were not! This got the evening off to a bad start but the food recovered the situation and the early false start was nearly forgotten until a long wrangle over the free drinks at the end of the evening (which were begrudgingly offered free after several attempts to charge us half price!). Would still like to see the H&S top six as serves the best chicken curry in the city, but I fear the service will drag it down the order. Excellent sing song of the top 20 guitar riffs highlight of the evening.

Mark - Du-da, du-da, dah, dah, dah - I'm not sure everyone had a Whole Lotta Love for the rundown of the Greatest Guitar Riffs as lager fuelled Currymarks got louder and louder. At least it was better than the awful smell of lily's in the Kings Stores. Stinky flowers in pubs - why? Slimmed down H&S was packed with us filling one side and two tables of girls(?) filling the other. Samosa starter was OK but nothing special and a bit dry while my Chicken Byriani apparently came with a "random" sauce rather than a Vegetable curry. The pushing of poppadums and beers is not always welcome although the sauces were good and remained for a while. The split table formation was invoked again and while it does allow access I think it breaks up the group and meant that I hardly spoke to some of the team. Great to see Dom gainfully employed and our 4th(?) female attendee but perhaps it is time to give up on the H&S as it is now our 10th visit and has no justification for continued attendance. Meanwhile it was sad to see the end of the Currymarks birthplace - no more Gulshan!

Jon - Our biennial visit to the H&S found the restaurant apparently reduced to its former size although it has failed to recapture its former charm.  The food, as per usual, was good with my Kadi Godsht a particular highlight, but the evening was let down by poor service.  Firstly, they produced not only popadoms but also beer completely unbid, and my special rice turned up several minutes behind every other dish.  Nonetheless, it was an excellent evening and I trust that our fourth ever female guest, and first Polish one, Aneta, enjoyed our company on her first week in London.

Jeff - A return to the Herb which has retrenched into its original tiny room. The only sign of the failed extension being an alcove with a coat stand. I prefer the Herb as it is - which in effect means that 20 people fill the place. Service here is still the problem - for example, despite booking and arriving on time our table was not ready and we ended up on a table for 8 plus one of 4, with a small gap. Others will doubtless dwell on other examples. The food was quite good and it did not take too long to arrive: King Prawn Puree tasty and Rogan Gosht good too.  All sides were ok but unmemorable. And overall a fun evening, even if Griff and Dr Diggers slightly overdid the 'top 100 guitar riffs of all time'; Jon even brought a female guest, and our first from overseas (if you don't count Dom). I never realised before that Jon was the "sweetest man in England".

Neil - Back to the old school with a meet at the King's Stores, where I, for once, was not the first person there. Must have been the nostalgia factor getting us all excited. After lots of discussion around the best guitar riff of all time and mixing up various AC/DC records we headed off for the short hop to the Herb and Spice. Things started badly, however, with the assumption we all wanted two plain poppadoms each and Cobra for all. Luckily, Griff quickly put the staff right and we started to get back to normal ordering. That said, Cobra was the only beer on offer but our wine drinkers were happy enough. Mixed Starter was a bit light with only three small items, this was also true of the main course (Rogan Gosh) although both were of good quality. The real highlight was the mushroom bhaji veg side dish which was the best I've had and would have happily swapped for the main in most places. Paratha was also very good. A great evening, livened by one of our rare female guests and lots of bad guitar impressions, although we seemed to have 'You Really Got Me' down quite well. Poor waiters!

Graeme - This was a big improvement on last time's disastrous visit (for me, at least).  The H&S is a tiny place and this gives it a cosy charm.  You would think that its small size would make it easy for the waiter to stay on top of things but the service was so slow - maybe he was doubling up as the chef.  What was also irritating was his habit of bringing things that we hadn't ordered, e.g. popadoms and beers.  Well done to Griff for stopping him in his tracks by asking him if they were complimentary.  The food was OK.  Two ancillary points, a. it is good to see Dom back in the land of the gainfully employed and, b. thank you to Jon for bringing our first Polish guest - I tried to smooth-talk her with my range of Polish expressions but she didn't seem very impressed, "Dzien dobre, Aneta".

Richard - I think the Herb is best defined as a "bog standard" curry house (and I certainly don't mean excellent toilet facilities). Everything is old school - I mean the usual curry menu, down-at-heel decor, cramped seating, vague waiters, grimy bogs. The food was decent but average - and in such a small place the food must be reheated. My mixed starter and chicken Korai was fine but no better than Brick Lane. Being small you do feel a bit self conscious (or was that miming Led Zep guitar riffs?) At least in a small place they could get the service right - but no, they brought pops and beer without asking (actually we want to choose). And we get a view of the concrete car park wall outside. The only really good feature is proximity to the King's Stores (hooray). I know it is "historic" for the club but history is better done elsewhere, so let's just drop this one, eh Griff?

Brian - Lamb and Sag main was good.  I'm a bit late with my scores, and cannot remember what the starter was, although I think it was OK.  Rice and veg all passable.  The thing about the H&S is that it's so small, you are at the mercy of the other clientele, and if they, for example, start poor imitations of old rock guitar riffs, that has the potential to lower the ambience for the other diners. Still, that did not stop us...

Tim - The Herb and Spice is a small venue in a no-man's-land between the City and Brick Lane. The decor, although clean, is rather plain, and the seating a little cramped. Plastic, wipe-clean menus may be practical, but seem rather down market. There's still no choice of beer; only Cobra is available. They delivered poppadoms to the table, but as they weren't complimentary, it would have been nice if they'd asked first. As it was, we sent some back, and swapped some for spicy ones. There was a good quantity of accompaniments, and they left these on the table to have with the starters, which was helpful. For starter I had chicken chat - which consisted of a good quantity of meat and shredded lettuce. I would have preferred it a bit spicier, but it wasn't bad. The main course of chicken rezalla had rather too much onion in it (obviously cheaper than meat). The keema nan was rather salty, but also had a weirdly sweet taste, as though it had started life as a peshwari and then been turned into a keema. It could also have done with some more filling. Service overall seemed pretty good, and it was nice to finish with a complimentary Baileys.

Dominic - A less than triumphant return to this once popular eatery is how I'd describe our evening. The writing was more or less on the wall when we arrived to find our reserved table MIA. When we did eventually sit down to a hastily, pushed-together set of smaller tables we were rather cramped, not aided by the narrower dimensions of the sealed extension area now represented by a wall ... I hope one of their relatives is not trapped back there! The service, unfortunately, seems to have diminished from the glory days but the food seems to have largely held its own. My Mixed Kebab starter was tasty and fresh and my main of the Xacuti Chicken was quite flavoursome although not as good as a previous visit. The veg and rice were fine but not outstanding but my main gripe was that each bottle of the "same" wine that was ordered happened to be a different one ... and of course the rice being the last to arrive, well after all the mains were long delivered: cue Jon's diatribe!! A begrudging free round of Bailey's didn't really help matters. All in all a disappointing evening compared to previous visits ... though a rather amusing one as we witnessed why Graeme should remain in charge of the ordering "choreography": Griff really seemed to struggle on the beer count (9 people wanting beers, 4 already delivered .... ummm, that would be 9 beers needed!), not to mention the sides ... "so how many more planes do we need ... " - make mine a Learjet Dave!! And of course, no evening can go without the obligatory guitar-riff-yodelling competition!!!

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