It can be reasonably argued that Indian cuisine began the transformation of the British palate from the drabness of the bread-rationing years to the all-corners-of-the-world flavour it is today. Liam and I love a bit of South Asian and Liam cooks up a mean curry (from a recipe, not a jar). Since our return to Blighty, we hadn’t actually stepped out for an Indian. Until recently. We decided to give the Merchants of Spice a go, a highly recommended eatery located in a fine old building on Colegate, a short stroll from our Weaver’s cottage. Did we enjoy the experience? Yes and no. Inside its antique shell, the restaurant was minimalist chic without a hint of the flock wallpaper and chintzy gilt of old and the mood was sophisticated and buzzy. The bhajis were disappointingly dry but the rest of the food was fine, plentiful and served up in elegant dishes. So why my reticence? Well, the set-price three course menu advertised on a board outside was off menu by the time we took our seats. But my main gripe was the service from the over-familiar waiters. They pestered us like wasps at a picnic, interrupting every conversation and force-filling our glasses. It brought back unhappy memories of certain Turkish restaurants we learned to avoid. The rapid-fire courses prevented us from making a meal of our meal and our gentle pleas to slow things down fell on deaf ears. If we’d wanted fast food, we’d have gone to McDonalds.