Excellent Indian restaurant, Masala Inn, Bexleyheath

Masala Inn, Bexleyheath

99018BCB-6484-45CD-8C8A-088B9A6B9E3B

Out on tour then, eh?
Indeed, right to the fringes of London for this trip. But it’s a really good restaurant and worth the trip. I’ve been here before and thought a second visit was in order.

What did you order?
The pan-fried Scallops and Chilli Ponir to start. The lightly spiced scallops were the business and perfectly cooked. The nice, chunky Ponir was certainly home-made and moreish enough and I could have done with more. The fresh chopped chillies were gobbled up.

Sounds like a good start. What came next?
The Railway Chicken. I’ve had it before and it just had to get a second tasting. The dish is served on the trains of India and with 16 million travellers using them every day it’s fair too assume the dish has been served a fair few times over the years. There is no standard recipe for a Railway Curry because there are thousands of kitchens serving the travellers across the country (although the India Railways did attempt to standardise dishes served on the railways in 2009). Similarly, you’ll find variations from restaurant to restaurant, although all of them are generally thick with chunky ingredients and rustic in style.

Is it hot?
No, Railway Chicken is medium-hot but if you want real heat then look no further than Garlic Naga Chicken. With the fiery sauce from the tiny north-eastern Indian state added to slices of the heat-giving garlic you’ll soon be looking around for a swig of Cobra. Of course, if you are silly enough to order a Chilli Nan to go with it, then you’ll need an extra swig.

Surely no one is daft enough to do that?
Ahem, er no, of course not.

 

Price check
Drinks: Cobra (pint) £5.50
Popadoms: 75p each
Starters: Scallops £5.95, Chilli Ponir £5.50
Mains: Railway Chicken £11.95, Garlic Naga Chicken £8.75
Rice: Pilau Rice £2.60
Nan: Chilli Nan £2.65

Masala Inn, 220 Broadway, Bexleyheath, DA6 7AU.
Tel: 020 8303 5245 (reservations)

Open
Monday–Thursday 5pm to 11pm
Friday– Saturday 5pm to 11.30pm

You can enjoy savings on food at the Masala Inn with the Spice Card. Get your Spice Card here…
Sunday noon to 2.30pm and 5pm to 11pm

Advertisements

Spice Card savings with… Mogul, Greenwich

Mogul_1_53

10 Greenwich Church Street, Greenwich, SE10 9BJ
Tel: 020 8858 6790
E-mail: mail@mogulindian.co.uk
www: mogulindian.co.uk
Open:
Monday–Friday noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11pm
Saturday–Sunday noon to 11pm

Where is it? Right in the heart of Greenwich at the Church Street entrance to the famous Market.

How do I get there?
DLR: Cutty Sark DLR station is just over the road.
Train: Greenwich station is a four-minute walk away.
Bus: 177, 180, 188, 199, 386 and N199 stop nearby.
Parking: There is some street parking if you get lucky or the car park behind the Greenwich Picturehouse (accessed off Burney Street) is a short walk away.

What’s their story? The Mogul, the only Indian restaurant in the centre of Greenwich, celebrates its 40th year in business this year. Spread over three floors, it is housed in an attractive four-storey Grade II Listed building dating back to the 17th century. The street-level ground floor is perfect for watching Greenwich life drift by, while smaller groups looking for an intimate atmosphere will be attracted to the downstairs cellar area and its cosy alcoves. The upstairs area is reserved for private dining or special events and can accommodate up to 20 seated diners. Each floor has its own service bar. Note: The Mogul also has another premises, a dedicated takeaway called Mogul Home Dining, in Trafalgar Road.

What’s the menu like? Contemporary and classy, with a modern-take on its sprinkling of old-time favourites. There is a dedicated lunch menu for busy people who are looking for a smaller meal at a decent price.

Oh, please tell me more…
Popadoms: Plain or spicy with chutneys (£1)
Starters: Okra Fries (£4), Onion Bhajis (£4.50)
Mains: Paneer Saslick (£7) Chicken Jalfrezi (£9.50), Acharia Gosht (£10.50), King Prawn Masala (£14.50)
Sides: Channa Masala, Saag Aloo (£4.50), Daal Makhani (£5)
Rice: Pilau rice (£3.50)
Bread: Tandoori roti (£2), naan (£2.70)
Lunch: Aloo Paratha and yoghurt (£6), Selection of wraps (£7)
* You will enjoy a 20% off these prices (eat-in and takeaway, including deliveries) with your Spice Card in the evening from Sunday to Thursday.

Mogul PDF Menu

Tell me something about one of the dishes… The deliciously creamy Punjabi favourite, Daal Makhani, is a dish so packed with energy that it’s been called the marching food of soldiers because of the energy it gives them. It’s cooked with urid lentils and kidney beans, which have to be soaked for hours to make them soft, and then spice and cream are added.

What about drinks? There is wide selection of beers, ciders, wines, spirits and soft drinks. These include draught Cobra and Guinness (on surge), bottled Kingfisher, London Meantime Lager and Magner’s. The well-balanced wine list goes beyond the offerings normally found in Indian restaurants and includes white, red, rosé and sparkling choices from France, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and Spain.

What they say… “The Mogul has become an institution in the heart of Greenwich. The multiple floors in the restaurant, each with its different vibe, mean we can cater for a wide range of events, whether it’s a business lunch or dinner, an intimate meal for two or a lively night out with friends and family. We are proud to have been serving this beautiful part of London for 40 years.” – Pushvinder Dale, Owner.

What we say… “The Mogul has a long-standing reputation for serving top-quality Indian food and will always be close to our heart as it was the venue for the first-ever Greenwich Curry Club meeting. The alcoves are intimate and full of character for a night out. Order up a selection of dishes from around India such as a Goan Fish Curry, Hyderbadi favourite Lamb Pasanda and a spicy Chicken Chilli Masala and tuck in.” – The Greenwich Curry Club.

What can I enjoy at the Mogul with my Spice Card?
YES 20% Discount • Sun–Thur • Eat-in, Delivery & Collection • 2 diners per Spice Card
NO Mother’s Day • Father’s Day • Valentine’s Day • 20 Dec to New Year’s Day
020 8858 6790 (table bookings and collections) or 020 8858 1500 (deliveries)
Minimum for delivery: £15 (after discount)

Mr Grumpy’s best curry

Royal Nepalese, SE3

There really is very little going on commercially as you come out of Westcombe Park Station – and yet two spice restaurants have continued to operate in this little parade for years. And the reason is quite simple: they are both rather good. Coriander (that’s the one on the right as you exit the station) is well known but make no mistake, the Royal Nepalese, which has been operating since 2004, has plenty of its own fans.

The restaurant was packed on the night the Curry Club visited and with good reason because the food is excellent. So much so that one member declared that his choice was the best curry he had for years (he had the Langtang Lamb, £8.50, by the way). And considering this particular member would be described by Blackadder as the grumpiest Mr Grumpy from Grumpy Street in Grumpy Town this is some compliment.Needless to say, a range of Nepalese dishes dominate to chef’s recommendations such as the well-known green herb lamb dish Nepalese Khutta (£8.50) and the Royal Mismass Karahi (£8.50), an interesting combination of barbequed chicken, lamb, sheek kebab and prawns.

Other thumbs up go must to the large Prawn Puri starter (£5.95) which could be enough for a dinner for some people and the tender Squid starter, while the Chicken Chilli Dry Fry (£8.50) was delicious. As the name suggest, it’s not for those who like their meat smothered in sauce but with a beautiful coating of marinade the chicken is delicious and set off beautifully with chunks of pepper and onion. Needlesss to say it had friends on my table reaching across for a taste of something just a little bit different to the old-school favourites.

Royal Nepalese, 2–4 Station Cres, Blackheath, SE3 7EQ. Tel: 020 8269 0505. E-mail: info@royalnepalese.com. Open: daily 5.30pm – 11pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 8.5
Service and friendliness 9
Decor 8
Vibe 8 (Tuesday night)
Value 8.5

Popping Inn (again)

Gurkha’s Inn, SE10

The Gurkha’s Inn in Colomb Street has been one of the Greenwich Curry Club’s most visited restaurants over the years, so it was no surprise that it was chosen as a venue again when we recently asked members: “where shall we go for a curry next?” It was also no surprise that owner Giri and his team again came up trumps

Now, when it comes to ordering the food, we all have a friend who orders the same thing every time and the Curry Club is no different. But apart from Biryani Man, the rest of the gathering was determined to avoid the old school favourites and try lesser known (mostly Nepalese) dishes.

And so the table heaved under plates of Tareko Squid starter (spiced and battered, £4.65), a double portion of Sekuwa starter (lamb cutlets, £4.45 per portion) Khasi Bhutuwa (lamb with garlic, green peppers, spring onion, ginger, tomatoes, fresh coriander, £7.75) Hariyo Chicken (a green curry of fresh mint, coriander, green chillies, £7.85), Keema Kukhura (chicken and minced meat cooked with garlic, £8.25) Gurkhali Lamb (lamb with mint and chilli, £7.85) as well as an array of nans, veg and rice sides.

The Khasi Bhutuwa tastes as multi-layered tastewise as its ingredients suggest thanks to its rich sauce and the Keema Kukhura is a delight, with the mince adding a fantastic thick texture to the sauce that covers the chunks of chicken. And the Hariyo Chicken delivers an amazingly fresh taste thanks to the amount of mint and coriander used, even if the green colour is a bit unusual visually.

Gurkha’s Inn, 17 Colomb Street, Greenwich, SE10 9HA. Tel 020 8293 5464. Open: Mon to Thur, 5:30pm – 11pm, Fri and Sat 5pm – midnight, Sun 5pm – 10:30pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 9
Service 8.5
Decor 7.5
Vibe 7.5 (Wednesday night)
Value 9

Settling in to SE3

Chinipan, SE3

Usually, no matter which corner of London you visit you will find a curry house. So why has there not been one in Blackheath Standard for the last umpteen years? Luckily the rain has come to the desert in the form of Chinipan, a smart Bangladeshi-run place in the premises of the old hardware store.It’s only been open a few months and I’m pleased to see it’s going strong.

The name, meaning sweet leaf, is used on a few of the specials on the menu. I tried the Chinipan Fish Curry (£8.95), with tender, large chunks of salmon. The fish is marinated overnight then sealed in the tandoor for a few minutes before joining the spicy, creamy coconut sauce. A touch of smoked tamarind keeps your taste buds alive throughout.The Chicken Tikka starter (£5.50) was tender and moreish, and a fan of Biryani assured me the chicken version (£10.95) they had was excellent too. It certainly disappeared quickly.

Service is friendly but relaxed and there is an attractive lunch deal (£8.99 for two courses, £10.99 for three) which means it is one of the few local curry places where I often see people eating in the day. The decor is smart, if a little sparse, but it looks as if the team is slowly building a good reputation in this part of SE3.

The restaurant is now fully licensed after a spell of BYO when it first opened at the end of 2016

Chinipan, 15 Old Dover Road, Blackheath, London, SE3 7BT. Tel: 020 8853 5800. Open: daily noon – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 7.5
Decor 6
Service and friendliness 8
Vibe (early Wednesday night) 6
Value 8

Higher ground

Everest, SE3

The residents of Blackheath are, of course, blessed with plenty of good restaurants, and it’s always nice to visit the classy Everest Inn. Beautiful décor and smooth service underpin the excellent food.

It’s hard to resist the Lamb Momos (£5.95) when there’s a Nepalese kitchen. So I didn’t. They were as tasty as ever and complemented by the Beetroot Paneer Parcels (£5.95) – a superb pairing, with the beetroot’s slight crunch and the pastry really adding something extra to the cheese, as well as adding a glorious dash of colour to the plate.

IMG_7559  IMG_7582

But that’s enough veg he cries, we are in a Nepalese after all. Good, hearty meat is called for from this hilly, cold region (Blackheath). Lasun Khursani (£9.95) and Lamb Gurkhali (£10.95) are certainly hearty and both are popular Nepalese dishes.

The Lasun Khursani is a home-style curry cooked with chillies and onions and is up there with a Madras when it comes to heat the menu said, although I’d say the dial was turned down when I tried it. Tasty nonetheless. The Lamb Gurkhali is a similar strength in the hot stakes and also uses chillies. The latter, I’ve noticed is becoming a bit of a favourite as people become more familiar with Nepalese food.

Everest Inn, 41 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0TJ. Tel: 020 8852 7872. Open: Sunday to Thursday: 5.30pm – 11pm. Friday to Saturday 5.30pm – 11.30pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 8
Decor 9
Service and friendliness 8
Vibe (early Wednesday night) 8
Value 8

Looking south

Pathiri, SE10

Fed up with identikit Indian restaurants and their identikit menus (same old, same old)? Pathiri in Greenwich’s Trafalgar Road could be just what you are looking for. This unassuming little place specialises in Keralan food, the home region of the friendly owner Kutty – and there are plenty of interesting dishes to try.

First up it has to be a couple of the South Indian dosas, the slightly sweet crispy pancakes (think crepes). The Ghee Roast Dosa (£4.75), with a hint of cheese, is a nice way to test the water or go for the more hearty Masala Dosa (£4.99), which is packed with potato, spinach and Nigella seeds (black cumin). The dosas are very large and come with an array of sauces so I’d advise the latter is shared if you don’t want to completely dent your appetite for the main courses.

IMG_7834
Masala dosa
FullSizeRender.jpg
Clockwise from top left: Vegetable Korma, Cabbage Thoran, Fish with Cassava, mixing the fish with the sauce, the sauce for the fish, pilau rice.

There is a small choice of old-school dishes (Tandoori Chicken anyone?) if you really must, but fish has to be the way to go. Kappa with Fish Curry (fish mixed with cassava and served with a spicy sauce, £9.99) is a heavy, tasty dish and is recommended along with the Green Mango Fish Curry (£7.25). Both dishes use fresh coconut and have a good kick. Plain pilau rice (£2.50) or a Keralan Paratha (£2.50) are the best accompaniments, and coconut rice (£3.50) an overload of the fairground favourite.

Elsewhere, vegetable lovers will rejoice at the array of choices with dishes of beetroot, okra, eggplant, beans spinach, paneer and eggs all on the menu (from £4.50 as side dishes). But most importantly, Pathiri has a chef who takes his vegetables seriously (the Cabbage Thoran, £4.50, was probably the best cabbage dish I have ever had) and not as an afterthought to sit sadly next to the meat dishes.

Pathiri operates a BYO policy and on Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes you can try a range of dishes with their South Indian Thalis (£8.99 veg, £9.99 non-veg).

Pathiri, 119 Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 9TX. Tel: 020 8858 1220. E-mail: info@pathiri.co.uk.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 7.5
Decor 5
Service and friendliness 8
Atmosphere 6 (Wednesday evening)

Value 8

Chop chop

Lahore, E1

“I pretty much just end up eating plates of chops when I go to Lahore,” I tell my friend, who is heading to this iconic restaurant for the first time.

“What? No curry?” he asks, as if a night without the spicy tomato and onion sauce at least somewhere on the table, would be plain wrong.

A short while later he looks up from a mound of red meat, his hands covered in tasty juices from the plate, and exclaims: “I can see why you eat chops here!”

We’ve ordered two plates of their chops (£9.95 for five) and are tucking in. Lahore really do make the chops in most other places seem like mini offcuts. This large Pakistani restaurant is often referred to as an institution, so engrained is it in the way of life in Whitechapel. There are other restaurants in the same area called Lahore One and Lahore Two, although neither, as far as I am told, are run by the same owners. Lahore is the daddy and chops is the dish of choice. Plate after plate of these mouth-watering chunks of marinated meat head out of the open kitchen, where you can watch flashes of flame bursting from dishes as they are cooked. The spice marinade is rich and the balance between slightly charred edges and the tasty fattiness of the lamb is perfect. A huge plate of fresh salad, which is routinely placed on every table as guests arrive is the ideal mouth cleanser from the grease when fingers are licked clean.

IMG_7655.JPG

You can’t book in this canteen-style restaurant and it’s not uncommon to see a queue snaking out into the road. But once in you’ll join the hustle and bustle of a truly working restaurant, with a stream of waiters seamlessly delivery those fresh salads, jugs of water water, glasses for your drinks (it’s a BYO) taking orders and delivering dishes. And all this amid a throng of happy diners. This not a place where people whisper quietly, it’s where they fully embrace the food with gusto. It’s where there was restaurant theatre long before some PR person thought they’d attach the tag to the restaurant of some TV chef’s venue.

One curry club I know refuse to eat anywhere else; every month they meet here and tuck in. To chops no doubt.

But there is way more if you can force yourself from the lamb. Each day there is a special, said to recreate favourites from the streets of Lahore (how about Chicken Haleem, £10, on the weekend?). The Onion Bhaji (£3.50) is so fresh from the oil you’d be advised to wait a while before picking the pieces up unless you have asbestos fingers. And the Chicken Kebab Roll (£3.50) is a nice tandoori break from the lamb.

But if you still yearn for a “curry” they are all there waiting: Karai Gosht (£9.50), Chana Masala (£7), Chicken Biryani (£9.75), even Fish Curry (£9.50). But I must admit, with the meat coursing through my veins after the chops, I usually just overload with a Keema Curry (£9,50) and accept that this was a meat day without any doubt

Lahore, 2 Umberston Street, London E1 1PY. Tel: 020 7481 9737. Open: daily 11.30am – 1am.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 9
Decor 5
Service and friendliness 7.5
Vibe 10 (Tuesday evening)

Value 9

Village spice

Kasturi, SE7

When you read from a food writer (Solange Berchim in the Greenwich Visitor) that the curry she ordered from Kasturi in Charlton was one of the best she had tasted, it is time to take notice.

The Greenwich Curry Club had a mammoth Christmas curry here when it was called the Viceroy, so we clearly needed to check out the venue’s new incarnation. After a couple of warm-up drinks in the friendly White Swan we skipped the starters and headed straight for the mains.

I’m currently on a Vindaloo rush and the chicken one (£6.95) was spot on – well spiced and a decent amount of vinegar. It’s amazing how many restaurants ease up on that ingredient when it’s a core part of the Goan dish.

Elsewhere on the table, the Lal Maas (£9.95 ), a Rajasthani lamb dish, didn’t explode in heat as we expected from the menu’s description, but it disappeared nonetheless, along with a Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani and Mashq-e-Tanjan, the chicken version of the same dish (both £9.95). Considering there were the remnants of a Keema nan (£2.95) and pilau rice (£2.95), an empty bottle of red wine and a few Cobras littering the table, the final tally of under £20 a head was exceptional for this quality.

I particularly like the tight menu, in particular only listing a handful of “speciality” dishes. Now, that is a restaurant that is confident in itself and one where you can be more confident that the chef actually does specialise in those dishes.

Kasturi, 10 The Vilage, Charlton, London, SE7 8UD. Tel: 020 8319 3439. E-mail: info@kasturi-restaurant.com. Open: daily 5.30pm – 11pm.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 8
Decor 7.5
Service and friendliness 8.5
Vibe (early Wednesday night) 7
Value 8

Plenty of fish

Saffron Club, SE3

Not only does this Blackheath restaurant have one of the coolest names in the curry world, it also has a superb selection of seafood dishes. Sparking my interest was the Punjabi Fish and Chips (£8.95), a twist on the British classic, with Ajwain seeds used with the gram flour for the batter and served with a yoghurt dip. There’s even peas. Spicy I wonder? The waiter did admit that the dish was pretty much standard fish and chips with a hint of spice but then that’s not such a bad thing in my book anyway.

Other tempting fishy delights on the menu are the Mixed Seafood Curry (£13.95) with tiger prawns, salmon, fish and mussels in a Goan sauce and Bulsari Salmon (£11.95), a brochette of fresh salmon with onions and peppers. There are also four different prawn dishes (from £12.95) and Tandoori Trout Fish (£10.95) served with a stir fried aubergine and tomatoes.

To say there’s a fair bit of competition in the restaurant stakes in Blackheath is an understatement but Saffron Club has certainly put its marker down when it comes to fish.

But as this is a Nepalese restaurant specialities such as Chicken or Lamb Hariyali (£8.95) and Himalayan Chicken (£8.95) are also to be recommended. The latter is cooked with Jimbu, a popular spice from the hill regions of Nepal apparently. Not your usual ingredient that’s for sure. And, as can be seen from the photo below, there are some excellent, fresh vegetable side dishes too.

IMG_7400.JPG

Saffron Club, 39 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0BU. Tel: 020 8297 1071.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 7.5
Decor 8
Service and friendliness 9
Atmosphere 6 (Tuesday evening)

Value 7.5