The building at 14 Ponsonby Road has seen its fair share of Indian restaurants. Following on from Kerala-inspired restaurant, Chaminar, is a newcomer which takes a new-age approach to the cuisine, as well as inspiration from both street food and popular classic dishes.
The idea of Mr Spicer is to represent change in food, space and energy and define modern day India. Young brother-sister duo Darshil and Riya Patel took on the majority of the new fit-out themselves, from demolition to renovation, and stripped the space at the Karangahape Road end of Ponsonby back to its raw brick. The overload of tables were removed to create a more modern dining environment, which is finished off by a glowing Mr Spicer neon on top of a mausoleum-shaped mirror. Further nods to the motherland come via posters on the masonry around the bar.
The street food influence is notable in the small/sharing plates section of the menu. Here you'll find chicken tikka roti tacos alongside onion bhaji, samosa chaat and chicken 65. The Goan fried chicken is considered to be one of the restaurant's signature dishes. The boneless portions are marinated overnight in spicy masala and then served with an addictive bright green dipping sauce. Then, there's shoestring fries topped with butter sauce, onion and cheese.
Curries, of course, headline the main section and range from the less sweeter makhan Indian-style butter chicken to rich black lentil dal makhni, North India's palak paneer and fish machali from the western coast. From the grill comes the likes of 'Gunpowder' prawns, which are charred in the tandoor, plus lamb sheekh kebab and spicy lamb cutlets.
All of your traditional Indian breads, dips and pickles are here, too, rounding off a flavour-packed meal. For dessert, try the house special paan (or betal nut) ice cream as a refreshing and floral palate cleanser. And if you prefer something heavier to fill that last little void; there's chocolate samosas smashed with vanilla ice cream and fried doughnuts dipped in sweet syrup.
The Patel's new-age approach can be seen in some table-side theatrics, like the crispy popcorn chilli cauliflower which is finished off with a blow torch and the spiced rum cocktail delivered under a smoking cloche.