Bo’ness Spice - on the Firth of Forth
The bunting is up in Bo’ness when Mr Bite and I drive down a winding road to this pretty town perched on the south side of the Firth of Forth. The children’s gala is set for the end of June and alongside the cafes, wine bars, and ice cream parlours the impression is one of a vibrant wee town full of civic pride.
This pride extends to the food at Bo’ness Spice which is owned by Mohammed Abbas along with sister restaurant Cilantro in Edinburgh’s Albert Place just off Leith walk.
Both restaurants have been affected by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. However, while Cilantro is usually fully booked this dinky eatery in West Lothian has more sporadic footfall despite the five star reviews on Tripadvisor. Both restaurants benefit from BYOB, takeaway and insanely good curries.
Expect fresh, flavourful dishes. Mohammed tells me that his wife makes the various masalas (spice blends) at home and that he sources “just enough produce”. This means on the one hand when the lamb, for example, is gone it is gone, but on the other, waste is limited and your food is fresh. Mohammed confides that various price brackets are offered by the supplier and his conscience dictates that he buy the best. Menu prices remain keen so this is all a demanding and delicate balancing act.
The first dish to stop me in my tracks is a starter of King Prawn on Puri. The puffed bread is straight from the stove top. I ask about the recipe but Mohammed with a glint in his eye tells me it is secret. Then there are the prawns which are meaty curls with no hint of the usual waterlogged texture. This indicates that they have been treated with respect along the supply chain.
Chicken wings have been lovingly marinated and are served with a lime, mint and yoghurt sauce. Salads are just chopped raw and crunchy. This is virtuous food and if you are vegetarian or vegan you will be spoilt for choice.
Achari Gosht is a speciality of marinated lamb cooked in a pickle masala, the latter adds distinctive piquancy to the gamey chunks of meat. Mr Bite tastes another speciality, MillyJilly, medium spiced chicken and lamb; he usually loves hot food but at this restaurant appreciates the clear, distinctive flavours of the individual ingredients and spices.
We are too full for pudding and request a doggy bag for leftovers which includes spiced Maris Piper potatoes and peas (Aloo Mater) and stodge-free, fresh-from-the-skillet, blistered garlic naan. This food is too good to waste.
It is well worth a day out to Bo’ness, originally a Roman settlement it was later a port and industrial hub. The town retains a steam train and Scotland’s oldest cinema, the Hippodrome. An Indian meal courtesy of Bo’ness Spice will top off your visit. Order for takeaway or sit in at the restaurant. (S. Wilson)
Bo’ness Spice - 61 South Street, Bo’ness, EH51 9HA - 01506 826 777
Opening times: Wednesday - Monday 4 pm-10.30 pm