It could be said that the lovely new Eleven Spices restaurant in Leamington town centre is a story about a man’s passion for both the food and the area which is 26 years in the making.
As my partner and I come to the end of what she describes as ‘one of the best meals she has ever had’, the Spencer Street venue’s owner Baabzi Miah speaks proudly about his time in the business when, aged 21, he worked front of house when the restaurant was Shalimar in the mid-1990s.
Since then, Baabzi has battled through the tragic loss of a sister and a son to have stakes in or run several restaurants and takeaways in The Lake District, Warwick, Birmingham and Dubai and he has put a really personal stamp on this latest venture – set up with his business partner Naseer Hussain – which marks a triumphant return to Leamington.
Dotted about Eleven Spice’s menu are dishes which Baabzi, a self-taught chef, has put his name to and use some old family techniques and recipes and some of the dishes are a specialty of Bengali food vendors.
For our starters we had Fuchka, a delightful snack originating from the Indian sub-continent and the type of dish you’ll be happy that you decided to try for the first time.
We also had succulent Sahi Sheek Kebab, which came with a lovely dipping sauce.
For our mains, my partner chose the Mirchi Matchi Masala from the Bengali Ocean Catches section of the menu.
The cod was cooked to perfection so as not to be flaky and the creamy sauce had a lovely hot undertone.
I had the Patia with Murgh Tikka - a fantastic blend of hot sweet and sour sauce with beautifully cooked chicken.
Eleven Spices’ website promises that the restaurant provides “culinary bliss in Leamington Spa”.
And with its fresh and modern decor, charming and impressive host and owner and its delightful and original food offering, the restaurant is certainly true to this promise.