It was such a lovely evening – a walk across the heath was just – well – it had to happen really. I didn’t know where I’d end up – I just knew I wanted to go somewhere I’d not been to before.
The odd thing about Khan’s for me is that I love curry, this must be one of the most established Indian/Nepalese restaurants in the area and I’ve always been curious about the building, yet I’d never been there.
First things first. The great thing about Blackheath as opposed to Greenwich is that its buildings have been meticulously researched and written about, in some cases by street number; something Greenwich can only dream of (and no – I’m not volunteering – I’d leave all sorts of gaps and anomalies and go off into flights of fancy – it’d just be rubbish.)
Neil Rhind’s superb three-parter, Blackheath Village and Environs Pt 1&2 and The Heath, is hard to get in its entirety these days – only Part One is readily available, which is a real pain. Happily I’ve managed to snout-out copies of all three (though my copy of The Heath is the original – I understand the update is the better version…)
All of which means that I was able to look up the curious building that houses Khan’s. Neil Rhind tells us that for most of its life, Number 28 Montpelier Vale was, in various guises and under sundry owners, a dentist/druggist. “Teeth stopped, sealed and extracted. Artificial teeth from 5/- a tooth…”
It remained a quaint old mid-Victorian store with original fittings until the 1970s when, as Rhind says, “despite protest,” the place was gutted and turned into a restaurant.
I have to say that Khan’s decor is nothing to write home about. They’ve saved the cute windows, but everything else has gone, replaced by the now-almost-but-not-quite- retro-cool in itself flock wallpaper, dodgy chandeliers and gilded mirrors. The music is of the Indian pan-pipe variety, and walking in felt like stepping back in time – albeit 30 years rather than 130.
It was going to go one of two ways – it was either going to be an undiscovered (okay – for me) gem – or a huge disappointment (and I’ve had one of them already recently.) But hey – I was in there, the waiters were keen to sit me down and – well – I love curry.
I don’t stick to the Phantom Control Meal when out. I like to have a range of stuff, including chef’s specials, so I dodged around the menu, picking out various things that took my fancy. Jalfrezis, Dansaks, Dopiazas, Aloos – a real mix.
The food is like the decor – retro in feel. But that’s no bad thing in my book. I like modern Indian food – but there’s definitely a comfort-factor in Indian food that has 30 years of Britain ingrained in it. It’s middle-of-the-road food – even the Jalfrezi wasn’t particularly hot (despite the warning on the menu) and most of it has seen quite a bit of the sugar bowl, but that, for me, is no real problem.
It was tasty, fun and nostalgic. Not gourmet food, not nouvelle cuisine – but that’s not what Khan’s does. The service is charmingly old-fashioned too, though the prices seem to have kept up with the times. I enjoyed it a lot, and if I felt ever so slightly guilty looking at my expanding waistline later, hey – it’s a good way to go…