Archive for the ‘Indian restaurants’ Category

The Phantom Falls Off The Curry Waggon

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Over the past couple of years the Phantom Waistline has been taking a bit of a beating, so a few months ago, I started to try to do something about it (eek). I’m not talking anything desperate, like running or anything, but I did make a bit of an effort not to eat curry every night. It’s possible you even noticed I stopped reviewing Indian restaurants for a while…

But let’s face it – that kind of thing never lasts. There are some times when only a good old fashioned British Curry will do. Scales be damned.

I hadn’t been to the Royal Nepalese for some time. It takes a long while to work your way round all the curry houses of Greenwich – and they change chefs or close more quickly than I can get to them (I mean – what is going on at Kerala Zone? Last I was walking past it, a couple of blokes were manhandling out a giant mattress covered in the most dubious-looking stains imaginable. An hour or so later, I walked back and the mattress was back inside, leaning louchely against the tables – still set for dinner. Ick…)

But back to the Royal Nepalese. Funny – I never really think of the place. It’s always there, and the last time I went there I enjoyed it well enough – I just never remember to go back there.

As soon as we walked in, we were treated like we were the only people in the place. Which, actually, we (almost) were. It was freezing, raining, and sleeting outside – a filthy night – which, I am sure, accounted for the fact that there were only two other people in there the whole time we were there.

There were a whole bunch of new dishes on the menu, which meant that we deviated from the Phantom Control Menu a little.

For example, the Lamb Achari, cooked with mango pickle and really rather tasty. And the Vegetable Karahi – a little on the sweet side, but still slipping down rather well.

To get the best choice of lots of flavours, we ordered a selection of side dishes rather than main courses. The best, by a long chalk was the Bringle Aloo (You say Brin-Jal, I say Brin-Gal…) whose aubergines had clearly been cooking for a very long time (mmmmm….) and just melted on my tongue. But the rest were lovely and, I’m afraid to say, we didn’t have much left over.

I’m not going to pretend that this is modern Asian/Indian fare. It’s traditional ‘British’ Nepalese curry – but sorry – that really hits the Phantom spot. I loved it. Nouvelle Cuisine, Schmouvelle Cuisine. And while you can always put swift, attentive service in an empty restaurant down to boredom, I got the feeling that they would be like this whatever the state of their table plans. I had a good time (though the pictures on the wall are as creepy as ever.)

At the end of the meal, they offered us a liqueur on the house – presumably to make us come back . To be honest, I can’t imagine drinking creamy spirits after a curry (I had the same thing in the Mehak recently (well, obviously, not that recently, ahem…) – they brought me a Baileys - very kind but – yeuch! Is this a latest fashion among Indian restaurants?) I passed on the offer – but points to them for offering.

So, why am I wittering on; not writing a proper review about this today?

Well, I’m afraid it’s an excuse to write about a new Greenwich club I like the look of. Greenwich Curry Club is a bunch of curryphiles who are working their way around the Indian (and otherwise) restaurants of Greenwich and reporting on their findings in blog-form.

They’re happy to welcome new friends to their ever-expanding membership (and waistlines, which, Daniel, who told me about it, tells me is no excuse.)
Check ‘em out and join in, perhaps, on their next outing in March…


Monday, June 1st, 2009

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…