Think of great curry, and your mind likely wanders to Bangalore, Birmingham, Bombay (Mumbai), and Bradford. I'd be willing to bet that the post-industrial coastal town of Bo'ness to the west of Edinburgh doesn't feature highly on your mental list. If not, however, more fool you.
Bo'ness Spice is, like many of my favourite Indian restaurants, small, primarily set up for take-away, and BYOB. Unlike many of my favourites (think Kebab Mahal in Edinburgh, or the Banana Leaf in Glasgow) the few tables there are in Bo'ness Spice are set with linen table cloths and waited on with the care and attention normally reserved for restaurants costing four times as much.
My dining partner and I agree to put ourselves in the hands of our waiter - a man we later find has two decades of experience working in and managing hotels such as the Scotsman and the Balmoral, which explains the impeccable service.
Obligatory poppadoms and chutneys hungrily polished off, we turn our attention to starters. Lamb Tikka Kebab arrives with a remarkable fresh apple and mint sauce - like nothing I've had in an Indian before - and Tandoori Jingha beautifully combines bold spice and juicy king prawns. Our waiter tells us that the owner's wife toasts and grinds many of the restaurant's spice blends at home. It is clear this isn't your average curry house.
Our mains are no less impressive. We opt for impossibly tender Bengal Beef - a relatively uncommon meat in Indian restaurants - and Bo'ness Millyjilly (lamb and chicken in a thick fragrant sauce). Veggie sides - soft Bombay Aloo and garlicky Tarka Dahl - vibe along nicely with our other choices, and we keep making eye contact and grinning at how good the food is.
Each sauce is made from scratch, rather than all being slightly altered from a common base gravy as is the custom in most Indian restaurants. This gives every dish its own clarity and character, with the subtleties of well-considered spicing coming through in each fresh and vibrant combination.
Having mopped up the last of the sauce with our light fluffy Peshwari Naan (a far cry from the stodgy fluorescent fare on offer elsewhere), we top the meal off with an unctuous Gulab Jamun and ice cream.
The atmosphere at Bo'ness Spice is warm and convivial, the service is professional, and the food is truly excellent. If you live in Bo'ness, you are fortunate to have one of the best Indians in Scotland on your doorstep. If you don't live in Bo'ness then it's unlikely you will regret making the journey.
61 South Street, Bo’ness, EH51 9HA - 01506 826 777
Open Wednesday-Monday 4 pm-10.30 pm