Cafe Massala

44, Woolwich Rd

Cafe Massala used to be Lahore Spice until very recently. It boasted an “award-winning” chef – though exactly what the award was was never actually expounded upon. “Best Chef in the Lahore Spice Kitchen,” perhaps?

As regular readers of this blog will know, we have a ‘control menu’ that we always order (classified information, naturally, so that we can remain secret spooky spies, but including most of the major subcontinental food groups…)

Lahore Spice was ok – nothing special but nothing terrible. The food arrived reasonably quickly and was standard price. The rice was never stale (an immediate disqualification in my book) and the food edible but nothing fabulous.

We moved on in our quest for curry perfection, but recently returned, when a new flyer, suspicously like the old one but with a new name, dropped onto our doormat. It said it was being refurbished, so we thought we’d check it out. The menu appeared to be exactly the same but there was no mention of the award-winning chef.

The shop now has a few (rather unexciting it has to be said) tables and chairs and the leaflet says “an Arabian atmosphere” though I didn’t really get much of that – it seems a little – well, bare – for a decorating style so famously louche. There is one water-pipe on a shelf and the walls are painted a sort of orangey-terracotta-ish colour, but there are no carpets and no camels (and what’s a curry house without a camel, I ask you…) I was rather puzzled by the decision to do “Arabian” when the food remains British Curry in style, but hey – this is ostensibly a takeaway, not a restaurant, so it’s the food that counts.

We decided to give it a try anyway. And I have to say I’m quite impressed. The food took a reasonably long time to arrive, but it was well-cooked and not the usual lurid colours you get from some curries. A second time when I collected it myself the guy was chatty and the armchairs non-grotty.

The ingredients are supposed to be fresh and natural. I could certainly recognise many of the ingredients as opposed to some of the general mushes you sometimes get. They claim the “lowest fat content possible” – though that’s frankly a rather vague statement in my book. That could mean anything.

In the accompanying letter, the “award-winning chef” re-appeared, though still with no mention of which award it is. But they’re doing special offers just now with free side dishes so it’s worth asking about offers. They have high hopes for the future, promising sampling sessions and cookery demonstrations. I’ll watch with interest. In the meanwhile I would number this as one of the better takeaway curries in Greenwich, though with the caveat that this is Greenwich, not Southall or Tooting…

The things your Phantom does for you, eh. I’m going to be the size of a house by the time I’ve checked out all these takeaway flyers that keep being shoved through the door. It’s a tough job – but somebody’s got to do it.

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