Shapla Spice is one of the longest established restaurants in Ripley, Derbyshire. I must admit I drive past Shapla Spice almost every day and always thought it was a take away, how wrong was I?
It was on a pleasant Friday evening that my partner and I were booked in to dine, it was then that we realised looks can be deceiving, as inside it is quite contemporary with about 30 covers, tables with white linen and modern leather chairs, soft lighting and an Anthurium flower on display on the table which was a nice touch, the tables are nicely spread out as well, so you don’t feel people are on top of you.
We were greeted on our arrival by Ali the owner, who is incredibly passionate about the restaurant and the food. He went on to tell us that his brother in-law is the chef as well as his business partner and that the vision they have for Shapla Spice is to be bold and adventurous with the food, while at the same time providing a first class service.
Shapla Spice is not licensed, so do take your own alcohol, they serve soft drinks though so you’re ok there. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice to take your own bottle of wine and not pay the inflated price when you receive the bill.
After perusing the menu for a starter, I opted for the Shapla Kebab which is chicken and lamb tikka with salad, stir fried and rolled in thin bread, this was most unusual, as in all my time writing ‘dining out’ reports I have never tasted anything like this, it had a sweet, tangy taste with a hint of coriander and the bread it was wrapped in, was very light and not stodgy at all. I would say that this starter is enough for two though, as even with my partner helping we could not finish it, which was a shame because it tasted beautiful.
For our mains I asked Ali to choose for us, I do this quite a lot when dining at Asian restaurants otherwise you end up ordering your old faithful, so sometimes it’s good to widen out and go for a dish you would not usually choose.
I had the Bahari Jalfrezi, this was a lamb, spinach, potato and paneer dish served in mustard oil with crushed garlic and sliced green chillies. I found this dish to be medium spiced; the spinach and lamb with the mustard oil gave this meal a deep warmth with subtle hints of garlic. This dish is what I would call a dry dish so if you like more sauce with your dish go for the Doi Turka; a chicken tikka dish cooked in a rich garam masala marinade sauce, this dish was quite spicy which came as a shock to my partner as her old faithful is usually chicken korma but that did not seem to put her off as she ate it all. The sauce is of a creamy nature due to the natural yogurt it’s prepared with, this combined with the chillies gives a nice balance and being a masala sauce makes it a firm favourite. One thing you must try is ‘Daves’ special chips, you will not find these anywhere else as it was created by Shapla’s own chef, I wont tell you about them, I will let you find out for yourself why its a firm favourite with the locals.
The Nan breads are cooked in a clay oven which makes such a difference, as otherwise you can end up with stodgy lumps of bread that end up being a meal all by themselves. Thankfully ours were light and well buttered. I recommend you go for the Kulcha Nan but I won’t tell you why, just order it for yourself and enjoy.
Overall we found the dining experience and the food very pleasant, it’s worth noting the prices on the menu, not one of the meals is over £10, my Bahari Jalfrezi was £7.95 and my partner’s Doi Turka was the same price, so you can see it is very reasonable.
Shapla Spice is of a size that you could book the whole restaurant for your own private function, which I know Ali would be happy to accommodate. Its also worth noting that Shapla have a Amber Valley Hygiene rating of 4 they are so proud of this that they even invite you to see the chef at work in their spotless kitchen. So if you’re looking for some new Asian dishes to try of good quality then the Shapla Spice is the place to head to.