All Spice, San Mateo

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Since moving to California I’ve had a lot of Chinese food and pizza, neither of which have been spectacular.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had some great meals, but this weekend I realized I hadn’t really made a point to seek out a lot of good food proactively.  I’ve been making a lot of spur-of-the-moment food choices in the last few weeks.  After a great long hike in the San Bruno mountains, I worked up an appetite for a good meal.  Having not had Indian food since I’ve moved out here, I decided to make a reservation at a relatively new restaurant in San Mateo called All Spice.

All Spice opened in November under the co-ownership of husband and wife team, Sachin Chopra and Shoshanna Wolff.  Chopra has brought vast experience in modern Indian cuisine spanning from New York to Silicon Valley.  Wolff has also worked in catering companies and restaurants and her passion for wine led her to start her own vineyard, hoping to release her first wines in 2012.Fritter

All Spice was a surprise in more than one way.  Its own four walls were surprising, nestled in a small cottage hiding amongst taller, more modern buildings in a busy business area of San Mateo off El Camino Real.  It seemed as though you were stepping into a small family’s home that’s been preserved amongst the commercial real estate that’s blossomed all around it.  The walls were painted in warm jewel tones and the chandeliers adorned with dangling crystals.  They had a roaring fireplace and the small dining rooms glowed with candlelight.  I could see why reservations were recommended- they have only 11 tables.  It adds to the personal and warm dining experience.

The very welcoming and friendly waiter first offered us an amuse bouche of mushroom over cauliflower puree.  I have to say that I LOVE when restaurants offer an amuse-bouche.  It’s such a classy touch.  It’s like a gentleman opening the car door for you on the first date- it really sets the tone.  For the first course, we ordered Indian Bread Fritter “Ma Mere” stuffed with mushrooms, potatoes and ciligini over stewed chickpeas.  The food arrived quite quickly.  The fritter had a perfectly crispy, brown outside and a tender center reminiscent of mashed potatoes.

For main courses, I ordered the Poached Black Cod and my husband ordered the Shortrib Vindaloo.  The cod was perfectly tender and moist, falling apart with the fork.  It was accented by a subtle chili oil that added just the right touch of flavor.  The southern spiced greens gave it a balanced kick of heat.  The short rib was fall-off-the-bone tender, topped with goat cheese and served over greens.  I never would have guessed goat cheese could pair so well with beef but now I feel like it was a match meant to be.  Every bite was creamy and rich, but perfectly balanced. 

Thankfully, their portions are to my liking as well.  I love restaurants that don’t over do portion sizes to cater to our gluttonous nature.  The portions are perfect enough to feel fully satisfied…and feel like having dessert.  It was pretty much guaranteed that I would have to order the Dark Chocolate Kulfi for dessert.  This little dome of chocolate had a flavor and texture that I can only describe as a cross between pudding and fudge.  The passion fruit gastrique complimented the rich, velvety texture. 

I was quite impressed with All Spice.  It is a quaint and warm restaurant with extremely friendly and professional staff topped off with sophisticated and elegant modern Indian cuisine.  The prices are reasonable and the service outstanding.  The only thing I would recommend is calling ahead before your reservation to see if they’ve acquired their alcohol license yet.  As of now, it’s BYOWine. 

All Spice- Online Reservations
1602 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA

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