New Indian restaurant opens in Leamington marking owner's emotional return after 26 years

By James Smith

15th Oct 2022 | Local News

Owners Baabi Miah and Naseer Hussain at the opening of Eleven Spices on Spencer Street (image supplied)
Owners Baabi Miah and Naseer Hussain at the opening of Eleven Spices on Spencer Street (image supplied)

When Baabzi Miah opened the doors to his new Indian restaurant in Leamington this week it marked a proud return after 26 years – but this time as joint owner.

Baabzi is launching Eleven Spices with business partner Naseer Hussain, breathing new life into the Spencer Street venue that has been empty for more than three years following the closure of Voujan Bari.

And it brings back special memories for the self-taught chef who worked front of house at the restaurant – formerly called Shalimar - in an early chapter of his career, aged 21.

Baabzi is joining forces with a colleague at his award-winning Indian Takeaway in Warwick, to start the new venture, which they pledge will offer something different for the town.

"I worked at this exact site many years ago and kind of lived through a 'baptism of fire' type experience in a very challenging restaurant to say the least. It means a lot to redefine this location and offer up honest, flavour-packed dishes and plates for this wonderful Spa town," said Baabzi.

Explaining the meaning behind the name, he added: "It's a special number to me for lots of personal reasons, including it being the birth date of my twins. It's also the number on the door! But, importantly, we work with 11 central spices and over the years have blended and cured them to create one distinct

flavour. This unique blend of spices will play a part in each and every dish adding just that something special. Fitting then we open on the 11th of the month!"

Eleven Spices, which has undergone extensive refurbishment, is the sixth UK restaurant project for the Birmingham-born businessman since his first joint ownership aged just 17, with his father in The Lake District.

"We sold the restaurant in Cumbria because I had to come back to Birmingham to live with my family when my younger sister was very ill with lupus and sadly passed away. At that time the family needed my support mentally, emotionally and financially.

"It was then – in 1996 - that I joined Shalimar, so being back here today brings back lots of emotional memories flooding back, both good and bad."

Baabzi and Naseer hope to further build on the local culinary reputation established for the past five years with the multi-award-winning Baabzi's Indian Takeaway in Coten End, Warwick, including Best Takeaway in The Good Food Awards 2021; Best Local Takeaway in the 2021 British Curry Awards and, this year, the Blue Ribbon Good Food Award.

Visitors will have the option of relaxed dining or drinks and a tailored bar food menu in the bar.

Baabzi said: "There are some fantastic restaurants in Leamington Spa and that's wonderful. We intend to be truthful with our offering, to set out a menu reflecting some unique tastes and expressions of well-established dishes and plates of Bangladesh. We have recreated dishes that go back decades and given them a new lease of life.

"We totally appreciate the amazing options everyone has in Leamington Spa when it comes to restaurants. We feel our menu will offer our unique take on some wonderful Bengali dishes that complement the existing offerings by other restaurants.

"The menu offers an authentic reflection of Bengali Cuisine at its most honest. I come from a family of chefs, importantly influenced directly by my grandfather and father. Food was used as a way of expressing love, togetherness and family. It wasn't easy for that generation to verbally express how they felt, so I always noticed their love and gratitude through the food they prepared for me.

"Traditional Bengali Cuisine is a result of many influences mainly through India, Pakistan and South Asia. Bangladesh is a melting pot of culinary deposits and a vast array of flavours can be experienced wherever you find yourself in the country.

The restaurant, which also offers takeaway, is open every day 5.30-11pm (12am Fridays and Saturdays). For further information, or to book, visit the website here.


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