Not your ordinary curry house. A trip to The Exotic Dining.
It’s a Thursday evening and I’m waiting in the reception area of The Exotic Dining, an Indian Fusion restaurant based in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The restaurant won the ‘Spice Restaurant of the Year category (sponsored by British Pepper & Spice) in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2014/5.
During my short wait to meet Esa and Kabir, co-owners and long-term friends, there’s a steady stream of customers flowing into the bright and modern restaurant. The greetings are familiar and the atmosphere relaxed. It’s clear that these people are regulars here. In addition to the award from us, the walls are full with Trip Advisor accolades – and I’m keen to find out why.
Their story started when the two friends – both experienced in the food sector – found themselves musing over plans for the future. Over time they developed a shared dream to bring something truly unique to the Indian food scene with the result that the restaurant doors opened in 2010.
With so many restaurants claiming to offer something different, I’m curious to find out what really makes them different – and here’s what I discovered:
3 reasons why The Exotic Dining is unique.
- In addition to standard dishes you would expect to find, exotic meats feature strongly.
You can try Springbok, Elk and Alpaca amongst many more. There are also extensive seafood and vegetarian options
- They boast great reviews and are multiple award winners, have a look here
- The menu is focussed on authenticity, featuring dishes based on traditional ingredients and recipes
3 reasons to visit.
- Each dish is created individually. No pre-brought spice mixes are used
- The fresh seasonal ingredients are sourced locally from Kettering and Northampton markets
- Customers with allergies and dietary requirements are welcomed, ensuring no-one feels excluded
During our chat I also asked Esa and Kabir what’s the best thing about the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards?
“Aside from being recognized in our own county as the best, it’s really the fact that the competition is 100% genuine. It’s free to enter you see. This makes it different from other contests where you have to pay to enter.” Esa Choudhury.
Finally Esa & Kabir welcome me into the kitchen to watch the two chefs at work, so I ask them what makes a successful spice restaurant? Their answers come quickly. Being 100% customer focussed, using the best quality, fresh ingredients and skilled chefs of course. It’s clear to see that the recipe is working.
To book a table or find out more, visit www.theexoticdining.co.uk
To find out more about the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards visit the website or call Rachel on 01933 664437.
We are most grateful to our sponsors:
A visit to Ria's Rosy Lee.
With our Independent Café/Tearoom category closing for entries on Monday (22nd June) we dropped in on last year’s winner, Ria of Ria’s Rosy Lee for a bit of a chat and of course, a cup of tea. We spoke about her journey so far and why she would encourage other local businesses to enter the awards. Watch the vlog.
Inside the pretty conservation building tucked behind a sash window you’ll find a cosy tearoom serving delicious homemade cakes, elevenses plus afternoon and high tea. Mention TEABLOG and receive 10% off afternoon tea. Remember to book 24 hours in advance before 31st July 2015 www.riasrosylee.com 7 Cambridge St, Wellingborough. NN8 1DJ
Can you give us a brief history of tearoom Ria, how long have you been in business?
The tearoom will be 2 on the 25th July. We opened in 2013 after 6 months working towards it. The ethos of the tearoom was a vintage tearoom that could be anywhere between 1920s – 1960s, with an aim of bringing back the sophistication of taking tea. In keeping with a traditional tearoom we served beverages, light snacks, cakes, and afternoon tea can be booked. Gifts and vouchers can be brought, and the rooms can be hired for events. This is the vision we have stuck with from the beginning.
How did your passion begin?
One of my earliest memories when visiting my Grandmother in London was visiting a famous tearoom, Maids of Honour, as a treat, and on days out and holidays we were always taken to tea somewhere – something that has continued into adulthood. In my twenties I discovered green tea as I don’t take milk, and I then started exploring from there and loved finding out the history of all the teas out there.
In 2014/5 you won the Independent Café/Tearoom category! Was it a surprise, given you’re a relatively new business?
Yes! As I was so new I wasn’t going to enter, but customers had nominated me so I wanted to honour their efforts by getting involved – but I had no aspirations of winning! When I was told I was in the final I was shocked and happy with that achievement, but again went into the bake off with the view that I’d never win but it would be a good experience. So when my name was called out on the night I was speechless and in a daze. Even now I have to pinch myself still!
What’s the most popular item on the menu?
Breakfast Blend Tea; we can easily go through 2kg a week. People often come back just for crumpet bread and spicy bun loaf from our elevenses menu as well, they often ask for some to buy to take home with them.
What’s the best thing about the tearoom and what sets you apart?
We are the only tearoom in the immediate area as everywhere else are coffee shops. When I opened up it was just when the demand for a vintage lifestyle and experience was beginning to grow so several other vintage establishments opened soon after me. However, I have been on the vintage scene for over 10 years and am part of a living history group, so I am authentic in what I do. The little details are what make the difference such as china cups, an accurate from times gone by – a lot of what is on offer comes from recipes and menu advice of the 1930s and 40s.
Do you have any favourite places to eat and drink in Northamptonshire?
I like C’est la Vie on St. Giles Street and The Vintage Tearoom on Lower Harding Street, both in Northampton.
We are most grateful to our sponsors:
Awards Evening Dinner 2015
Our Awards Dinner will be taking place at Royal & Derngate in Northampton. Tickets priced at £100 (plus VAT) or £900 (plus VAT) for a table of ten are available by calling Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or by emailing us using our contact form. Meanwhile you can also follow the Awards on twitter at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards