One never knows what to expect from a hotel restaurant and that is why we were beyond delighted to find the Hampton Inn is home to one of Stamford’s finest. Across from the future Mill River Park in Downtown Stamford, Connecticut we found a hidden gem called Spice Affaire.
To us, the components that make a dining experience extraordinary are the quality of the ingredients, the preparation of the dishes, the persona of the restaurant and world class service. Spice Affaire exceeds expectations in all areas.
We started our meal with the traditional warm poppadums and the classic trio of sauces; a mint sauce, made with 16 ingredients, an onion relish and a tamarind sauce made with a base of fresh tamarind pulp. This trio of condiments begin the culinary tale that Chef Ninja tells through his remarkable alchemy of spices woven through every course. Each component calls out the particular taste and aroma of the spice and yet enhances the whole.
Next came the appetizers, Paneer Methi Tikki and Sabudana Tikki. These vegetarian medallions were extremely different from that which we are used to, primarily due to the key ingredients and spice notes. Both dishes left us wanting more as we moved onto the Tandoori Mixed Platter—an exquisite display prepared with chicken, prawns, seekh kebabs (minced meat) and Malai Tikka (yogurt marinated chicken). Each expertly prepared and displaying a unique, tender, succulent and aromatic taste that melts in your mouth.
After sipping a Mango Lassi made from yogurt, mango pulp and sugar to cleanse our palates, we moved to the most exciting part of the meal; entrees. The Shahi Malai, a vegetarian dumpling served in a savory onion sauce with a creamy cashew-like finish, was eagerly poured over the basamati rice. We mopped up the remaining sauce by dipping the freshly baked Naan and Lacha Parantha Indian breads as we couldn’t bear to leave a drop.
Finally, we had the most popular Indian dish, Murg Tikka Masala (chicken cubes barbecued in Chef Ninja’s special velvety tomato sauce). This was not your typical Tikka Masala, but an irresistibly fragrant bite.
We always save a little room for dessert so we had to sample the house specialties. Our favorite was the Orange Malai Kulfi an authentic Indian homemade ice cream with nuts and flavored with saffron and cardamom, set in an orange shell and sliced—the perfect finish to an unbelievably delectable meal.
As a rule we always pick “the dish” to guide our readers, but in this case choosing would be unfair because all of these were extremely enjoyable.
By Charlotte & Leslie Goldblatt
Spice Affaire is located in The Hampton Inn & Suites
26 Mill River Street, Stamford CT 06902