One of the drawbacks of living in India for 3 years is that I am now a self proclaimed curry snob and have become extremely fussy about Indian food I eat anywhere else. Annoying? Maybe, but at least I’m honest!

Even growing up in England, where there is a large Indian population and curry houses are prevalent – you quickly learn that a good Indian meal is comprised of fresh, simple elements and shouldn’t cost the earth. Sure there will be times when only gourmet will do and there are tantalizing Michelin ranked restaurants such as Benares (London), Tusli (NYC) and even Bukhara in Delhi (a favorite of Bill Clinton no less) to cater for you on those occasions. When moving to DC, I was disheartened to find plenty of the expensive, fine-dining variety, but a genuine lack of well priced, authentic Indian restaurants serving decent food.

Imagine my disappointment! I move from Bombay where I was eating scrumptious handmade curry for $5 and arrive in Georgetown, where I am handed a bill for a somewhat greasy, under-spiced, over-creamed, distinctly unauthentic meal for $50. Excuse me? How hard can it be to find a decent curry in this town?

And then, one day, when visiting my house-to-be in the up and coming neighborhood of Hyattsville, just outside the DC line… it happens. I see this vibrant logo for Spice 6 Cafe, and upon closer inspection, a menu chock-full with heart tingling favorites from my days in Bombay, complete with colorful photos of delicious looking Indian street food. OK. I’m in!

Once inside, the best way to describe Spice 6 is “like an Indian version of Chipotle”. But this is not in any way meant to be disparaging, merely an analogy to the process of choosing a meal style, protein, sauce, veggies and salad toppings as you move down a line with all of the piping hot ingredients simmering before your eyes.

One great choice is the naan wrap, which you can stuff with all sorts of things. First you start with a strong base of rice, salad and chutneys. Then comes your choice of main filling: chicken, lamb, veggies or juicy (oh so juicy) tofu. Finally layer that with Korma, Spinach, spicy Tikka Masala or the slightly milder and sweeter Kadai curry sauce. The naan itself is cooked in their in-house tandoor: a custom made clay oven housed in their open kitchen where you can watch them knead and bake the traditional Indian flat bread to perfection.

There’s also salad and rice bowls, another familiar approach to this sort of self assemble meal and interestingly a naan pizza, allowing those not yet 100% in step with Indian cuisine to try the flavors while still retaining a slice of America.

Some of the best items on this menu are the street food style sides. Try the Samosa Chat – crispy, fried triangles of pastry filled with spicy vegetables covered in tamarind & mint chutney, cilantro and pop-in-your mouth garbanzo beans. Pair this with their chai-spiced Mango lassi (a yoghurt and fruit blended drink designed to cool your palate from all those delicious spices). I’ve been back just for this dangerously good duo, many times since.

Finally, don’t pass over the sweet stuff! Indian desserts are generally extremely sugary and not everyone’s cup of tea, but here they offer the two reigning champions that will appeal to even those not usually sweet of tooth. Gulab Jamun – a deep fried dough ball steeped in fragrant sugar syrup – or as Ken described it “ It’s like a mapley, waffley, pancake ball!” Also Malai Kulfi – the delicately flavored ice cream of the Indian subcontinent, a version of which you can find a recipe for on my blog.

I’m thrilled Spice 6 has arrived- the concept is smart, the food is excellent and it’s great value. I hope Vik Sing, the owner has plans to go on and open more branches. For now, I can be smug that this will be my new local diner.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Spice 6
5501 Baltimore Ave, #107
Hyattsville. MD – 20781
Hours: 11 am – 10 pm daily

I’ll be the first to admit I was a little skeptical when the signs first went up for the new Yayla bistro. Not because I don’t like Turkish food, on the contrary – it’s one of my favorite cuisines. However, Yayla’s was taking over the treasured french bakery on my street where I could get authentically baked baguettes and gooey pain au chocolat on a Sunday morning – I was panic stricken and went into mourning for my euro brethren. Then yesterday morning a funny thing happened, Kenny came home with a piping hot bag of french pastries and informed me that the Cote D’Or had not closed for good, the owners had merely downsized their premises so to speak and were now serving my beloved croissants through a back door, round the other side of the block. All was not lost, Vivre La France! This happened to coincide with the official opening of the Yayla bistro, so I could now confidently partake in a meal in our new neighborhood joint, safe in the knowledge everyone was happily doing business side by side.

I am extremely glad I had this change of heart because Yayla’s did not disappoint. As mentioned, this was opening weekend, so there were definitely some glitches and we’ll get them out the way before I start fawning over the food.


The interiors are admittedly a little confusing; when I think Turkish bistro, I imagine warm, inviting and moreover informal interiors. This costly revamp has unfortunately left the bistro a little stark and shiny, lots of stainless steel, replete with crisp table cloths and towering wine glasses. Not unpleasant by any means, just a contrast from what most will probably be expecting. There was also an awkward quietness in the dining room for the first fifteen minutes of our arrival, due to a lack of music, after which we were finally entertained with some jolly and appropriate Mediterranean numbers, which brought me a little closer to the theme at hand.


The service was overall exceptional. A minor hiccup early on with an appetizer was swiftly remedied with no fuss and our server did a great job making recommendations for the entrees and desserts. My only real complaint was that Kenny’s plate was cleared the minute he stopped eating, even though I had not – which left me as the embarrassing slow eater at the table. When I trained as a server in my youth this was rule 1. Never clear a plate until all parties have finished eating, it’s just good manners.


Now for the good stuff. It’s Turkish – so the menu is mainly made up of a variety of cold/hot mezze dishes with a few interesting and honestly mouth watering kebab/seafood /pide entree options.

Meze or mezze /ˈmɛzeɪ/ is a selection of small dishes served in the Middle East and the Balkans. In Levantine and Caucasian cuisines, and in parts of the Balkans, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals.[1]

For our appetizer we chose the 3 cold mezze plate combo with Imam Biyaldi (eggplant stuffed with onions, peppers and garlic), Baba Ghanoush (spiced, roasted and mashed eggplant dip) and Cacik ( a  traditional middle eastern strained yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip).

All three were light, tasty and accompanied by bottomless rounds of hot turkish bread. TIP!! Beware the bread basket, it is easy to eat your entire body weight in this dangerous, doughy goodness.

The entrees of buttery, sautéed shrimp and donor kebab were satisfying but the pièce de résistance for this meal, was the dessert. Our waiter tried to sway me towards the rice pudding and I’m sure it’s divine. But if you get the chance to visit Yayla’s – do not miss the apricot bites. A long smear of creamy mascarpone cheese topped with honey soaked apricots, pistachios and a drizzle of butterscotch sauce was enough to ensure we will be coming back frequently. This was topped off with a couple of near perfect turkish coffees and all for under $50.

Great food, great service, great value – and I’m sure they’ll get there with the ambience. For Day 1 this was an impressive score. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Yayla’s Bistro 22201 N. Westmoreland St, Arlington, VA, 22213.


For those of you that know me, the fact that I am starting my reviews with my beloved local beach shack is probably no surprise. Part of me doesn’t want to let others into the relatively well kept secret that is Clare and Don’s, but that would be selfish and I just have to explain why this laid back, dog friendly diner-cum-cocktail bar has stolen my heart.

It is true to say that like any other beach bar, Clare and Don’s comes into its own once the weather starts to rise into the 80’s. But even in winter, though it may be 50 miles from the nearest sea shore the owners Clare and Don have done a nice job of  keeping the theme warm. There are heaters on the covered patio for those brave of heart and furry of paw or if you prefer cozying up indoors there’s no shortage of options. Sidle up to the authentic wooden bar adorned with beach signs and surf boards or pull up a chair at one of the many rustic dining tables. Enjoy an array of delicious, albeit not especially ‘healthy’ menu items, which include a wide range of quirky seafood and vegetarian appetizers. There’s also an impressive list of hearty salads, burgers and mains to keep most people happy. My favorites include the perfectly golden fried, coconut shrimp, a carefully crafted crab cake appetizer and the supremely delicious Shrimp ‘N’ Grits – a cheesy, fragrant entree that is definitely not for those on a diet… Vegetarians can rejoice too as almost everything on the menu has a veggie alternative – even Tofu ‘N’ Grits. I’ve tried it and it’s GOOD!

So I’ve talked about the food, now let’s get down to the real business here – the cocktails. They’re well made, well priced and will get you well on your way to, well – as long as you’re not driving – somewhere else. From Mai Tais to Painkillers, frozen or on the rocks, the bar here has got you covered.

The real beauty of this tiny bar, hidden in the back of a parking lot in Falls Church, is its ability to transport you from the middle of suburban Virginia to a beach somewhere in the Keys… When the weather turns hot, Clare and Don’s becomes the buzzing heart of this small community. Relaxed friendly service, regular live music on the outdoor stage, a tiki bar on the patio and Pina Coladas that would make Jimmy Buffet blush – it’s what keeps me and everyone else coming back. If you haven’t been – go soon, just don’t tell everyone…

Overall Rating: 9/10