Seven Spices

Jackie McMillan
12th May 2024

Seven Spices has big aspirations. Owner/chefs Srinivas Velpuri (ex-Masala Theory) and Amar Rao Cheeti talk a big game on their website with overblown prose and the promise of a Michelin starred dining experience. Spoiler alert: they don’t have a Michelin star, and stars (where they do exist) are attached to restaurants not chefs. 

Set at the rear of an aging arcade dominated by fast food, staff looked confused, busy or disinterested when we walked in. With my confirmed online booking mysteriously lost we were left standing in the entranceway awkwardly while staff poured over the cracked screen of an iPad that had obviously been dropped too many times. When we were finally seated, we were informed the Seven Spices signature tasting menu ($90/meat) on the front page of the menu placed in front of us was only available via pre-booking. The website made no mention of this, so we were eventually offered the menu we came to Lane Cove to eat without the signature yoghurt bomb. 

It began with half-crisp, half-chewy papadums, downsized but still too big for the impractical chutney container. In a lake of the same colourful chutneys, a crisp battered wedge of zucchini sat over spicy curried chickpeas in the enjoyable zucchini chaat. Prawn balchao sambal came as a trio (for two people) of blandish battered prawns with a pot of cold tangy, slightly grainy rice you needed to plunge a knife into to extract. That’s probably the biggest issue here: they’ve thought quite a lot about plating but not quite as much about the guest experience of eating dishes that arrive by smoking urns, ceramic seed pods, and on statues that the staff struggle to bear. Sometimes the fanfare - the disappointing commercial tandoori chicken wrap is a good example - eclipses the dish. If Seven Spices want to live up to their promise, it would help to train staff to remove plates before the next course is presented, and give instruction on how to open a Mumbai tiffin. 

For me the menu highlights were smoky parcels (one arrived totally split) of banana-wrapped fish, mint and coriander-infused baby goat curry, and a juicy off-menu dish Velpuri called basil chicken which replaced our missing yoghurt bomb. In terms of drinks, wine pairing for an extra twenty bucks is extraordinary value with big pours and one of the three wines being the 2022 Mac Forbes Yarra Valley Chardonnay ($13/glass). Mocktails, like neeharika nectar ($15) are included with the tasting menu, or you can spring for a boozy chai mule ($20) that updates the classic with a thematic cassia-based hit. The luxuriousness Seven Spices are going for in the decor with a mural and curtains set around an internal light-well would be aided by ensuring corridors are kept free from boxes, and toilets are clean and functional. Hopefully these matters will be rectified in their second month of operation.