TOP MENU: Consultant chef Nitisha Patel and Spice Island chef Milon Miah share ideas for a revamped menu at Barnard Castle’s oldest Indian restaurant
TOP MENU: Consultant chef Nitisha Patel and Spice Island chef Milon Miah share ideas for a revamped menu at Barnard Castle’s oldest Indian restaurant

COUNTY planners have been asked to approve a major refurbishment for Barnard Castle’s oldest Indian restaurant.

But the plans that have been submitted reveal only a small part of the significant overhaul envisaged for Spice Island, on Market Place.

Not included in the planning documents, which makes provision for a new upstairs cocktail lounge, are the developments to the menu and the master chef who is helping to create it.

The brains behind Waitrose and Tesco’s Indian food development, Nitisha Patel, has teamed up with the restaurant’s award-winning chef Milon Miah, to come up with a variety of new dishes and practices.

Spice Island’s Zak Ahmed said: “Looking back, there are elements of our menu that date back 25 years. Trends change, so we need to catch up. It’s a huge coup to have Nitisha working with us.

“We are bringing the real traditional taste back, but with a modern twist.

“Not only will she will help Milon and the team find a new approach on how to modernise and be more healthy. She is helping with the new kitchen which will be designed to ease the current high pressure on the team.

“There is a bigger plan than just the restaurant development that will help us grow rapidly. It is great for this town and it is great for us.”

The consultant chef, whose recipe book My Modern Indian Kitchen is being sold internationally, added: “I am allowed to be as creative as possible, which is great because I like to put my personal stamp on dishes.

“I’ve been working with Spice Island’s founder Babul to help recreate some of his favourite home cooked dishes. We want our food to tell a story so we layer the spices and we layer the flavours.”

Ms Patel said the new menu will tap into a much broader market than a traditional curry house.

Mr Ahmed added that people are prepared to travel for good food and the aim is to attract people from all over, which would boost trade in the town.

Plans to revamp the premises, alongside the food and service changes, include opening up the upstairs as a cocktail bar, which will see Spice Island collaborate with London based cocktail specialists The Mixology Brothers.

Mr Ahmed explained that they are working with experts in every department to ensure that the highest quality is offered to customers.

The planning proposal also makes provision to improve and replace the shop front to include an entirely new brand.

New entrances will allow people to access the cocktail bar from the side of the building without having to go through the main restaurant.

In the planning statement Mr Ahmed said: “In doing so the rear landscaping will be improved which will also benefit the neighbouring property due to shared access.

“The improvements will greatly improve the existing building’s condition, aesthetics and structural condition whilst being sympathetic to the existing architecture and building itself.”

The revamped restaurant will be managed by Rhys Keeling who has been with Spice Island for about eight years, have started out as a waiter.

He said: “I am incredibly excited.

“We have been talking about this for a few years and we have thought about every aspect of it in great detail. It is going to be great for the town.”