REVIEW: Of Vice And Men

The Viceroy, Paisley Road

The Time: September 30, 8pm

Booking Name: None required.

The Pub Aforehand: The Old Toll Bar, Paisley Road West

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Bulldosa, Rabbie Shankar, Sir Spicy Lover and Ravi Peshwari

Decor: Just a couple of doors down from the legendary Grand Ole Opry, The Viceroy boasts classic signage that makes it look like burnished part of Glasgow’s rich curry heritage; inside, it’s bright and notably spotless, with a compact buffet station in one corner and tasteful art prints on its neutral walls.

With no Curry Clubber claiming previous experience of The Viceroy, and a surprising lack of information about the establishment available online, this was truly to be a journey into the unknown.

The Experience:

With almost two years of curry safari under their straining belts, the Tramps have spent a considerable amount of time grappling with the rice/naan equation. But what’s the golden ratio for TATTGOC itself? Some months the membership expands to more than a dozen, with an attendant ruckus you can probably imagine. For other outings, natural shrinkage asserts itself, bringing the numbers down to more biddable levels. So is there a perfect headcount? Turns out six ain’t bad – instead of various rambling, shouty, divergent debates raging around a sauce-spattered, rice-scattered table, there can be just one Big Conversation ... albeit a rambling, shouty, divergent one.

Six souls: that was the scenario being silently considered by the Tramps in the appealing environs of The Old Toll Bar. For this was September’s official TATTGOC outing, squeaking in under the wire at the very end of the month. When you’ve spent as much time together as the Tramps, you come to value these calm little moments before the storm. No need for talk. Just lager-augmented meditation. While not the most soothing pub in Glasgow – that honour falls to The Laurieston – the Old Toll Bar manages to be cosy yet characterful (and, unlike many nearby hostelries of unknown complexion, it has windows).

Ravi Peshwari was first to arrive, and keen to share news of his latest technological acquisition. The Bulldosa was next, closely followed by Rabbie Shankar and Sir Spicy Lover, who managed to catch TATTGOC’s slackest of loose cannons right in the act of ordering drinks, therefore reaping the fizzy rewards. Among the general chit-chat and ribald bonhomie, there seemed to be a more intense level of anticipation than usual. The Viceroy, it seems, was an almost totally unknown quality, although everyone had a story about the nearby Grand Ole Opry, mostly of the rootin-tootin variety: the admirable but possibly confusing bar queueing system, late-night encounters with the chuck wagon and dramatic six-gun shootouts (staged, for the most part). But before you knew it, it was time to saddle up and mosey on over the road.

The Viceroy isn’t the biggest restaurant – with a capacity of perhaps 40 diners – and, in a callback to the early days of TATTGOC, it was practically empty when the squad arrived. Having the place to yourself can be a bonus, though, and there was certainly a warm welcome – which was made even warmer and more welcoming when, even as the Clubbers were still arranging themselves around the group table, a tray of six lagers materialised. Telepathy? Magic? A reasonable deduction after surveying this louche party? Nope. (Well, maybe that last one). The Viceroy is BYOB, and so was the first chance for TATTGOC to take advantage, en masse, of some of the free lager Kingfisher kindly sent up in support of the blog. The Tramps had dropped off a case earlier, and the Viceroy staff were kind enough to keep it chilled while awaiting the full crew.

Even for these grizzled curry veterans, The Viceroy’s extensive menu took quite a while to properly parse – no great inconvenience when you have free lager, though. A request for poppadoms was placed, belayed and then sort-of placed again – the customary brittle discs arrived with spiced onions and also a thin, aromatic curry sauce which was a table-wide hit. Sensing hunger pangs, The Tramp whipped everyone toward a starter consensus, ensuring that there would be a spicy chop for each Clubber, on top of the shared tandoori and vegetarian platters. It seemed a winning ruse, and while the stylish square starter sideplates seemed slightly at odds with the cheerful red paper tableclothes, it hardly mattered when the sizzling dishes arrived. The selections were uniformly excellent, and the “one man, one chop” strategy appeared to survive its first contact with the enemy.

While ordering the mains, the rice/naan equation was poised at two rice and three naan (two normal, one peshwari). The Tramp had privately suggested he was going to abandon rice from now on in favour of a naan-only accompaniment, partly inspired by comments from the epochal Pilau Talk: The Legends series, where many respondents noted that eating rice simply met less space for curry. Will this actually affect the equation in future or just mean The Tramp will be grabby-grabby with the naan? Time will tell. In the meantime: more Kingfisher!

With bopping background music and another couple of tables in, there was an amiable atmosphere brewing in the Viceroy, and after such great starters, various Clubbers began to enquire as to how the Tramps stumbled onto the place. Turns out it was actually The Bulldosa who first spotted it while working nearby. After noting the classic signage, BuDo was also intrigued by a handwritten note in the window encouraging passers-by to try this “happy and cosy place”. Winningly, it invited interested parties to “come in and see our arrangement ... or come in for a chat”. That definitely sounds TATTGOC-friendly. There were also posters advertising a 2-for-1 curry offer, although that applied to a set menu and everyone knows the untameable free-thinkers of Curry Club generally prefer the wide open prairies of a la carte selections.

These self-same selections began to descend, served in sturdy curry pots and wafting enviable aromas down the table. Trampy had been tempted to plump for a vindaloo after spotting it on the menu, but had chickened out at the last-minute – is there a way to order a vindaloo without sounding like ... well ... a bit of a prick? His replacement choice, chicken tikka achari ghosht, may not have been as dangerously hot, but it was still delicious. The Bulldosa’s lamb tikka bhoona got the sage nod of approval, while Ravi Peshwari went further, eventually declaring his chicken tikka makhani masala as the best dish he’d ever experienced as part of TATTGOC – high praise indeed. The rice and naan were enthusiastically received too, especially the super-sweet peshwari. It occurred to Trampy that at one point Sir Spicy Lover had suggested ordering an additional side dish – perhaps a saag – but that the request had got lost somewhere in the shuffle. He vowed to do better next time.

It’s traditional to get a tableshot of TATTGOC doing what they do best, but in this instance they were pre-empted by the waiter, who took a picture of the chomping crew for the restaurant’s own records (it’s unclear whether this portrait was taken before or after an impressive number of empty Kingfisher bottles began congregating at one end of the table). Despite the bountiful starters, there were clean plates and dishes all round, and a rousing murmur of appreciation for the Viceroy’s efforts. As the waiter presented the extremely reasonable bill, Sir Spicy Lover enquired as to how long the place had been open. Just six weeks, as it turned out. Hopefully it can carve out a niche among Southside curry lovers (although there already looks to be competition opening just a couple of doors down – a place called "Mr India’s Thali", already painted as a possible TATTGOC destination in 2011).

As the sated squad took their leave and mustered for the traditional groupshot outside the restaurant – which resulted in a surprisingly athletic, Kwikfit-inspired, we-are-the-boys-to-trust-OI! synchronised leap in the air – the Tramps sprang their last surprise of the evening. Breaking news: they wouldn’t be organising an October meet-up. Instead, it would be left to the fevered imagination of The Bulldosa, the belated completion of a blood oath sworn many months earlier. Considering his instrumental involvement in uncovering The Viceroy, surely nothing could go wrong with BuDo in charge the same month as Halloween. Right? RIGHT?

Range Of Drinks: BYOB! Which meant a crate of Kingfisher ... The Viceroy kindly took possession of the lager early while the Tramps waited for the gang to assemble in the pub.

Highlights: Wide range of dishes, spotlessly clean, and terrific food across the board. BYOB a real bonus too.

Lowlights: Perhaps a little brightly-lit for intimate dining.

The Verdict: An enthralling experience!

The Damage: £94.75 (tip £13.25)

The Viceroy doesn't have a website but if you fancy checking out this TATTGOC-approved curryhouse, it's at 480 Paisley Road, G5 8RE and you can ring them at 0141 429 4161


The Tramp said...

Definite two thumbs up from The Tramp for The Viceroy (hmmm, maybe we should come up with our own take on the thumbs up/down rating system - any ideas?)

I went for the Lamb Tikka Parsee Korma, and very tasty it was too. With award winning restaurant Kabana just round the corner, and Mr India's Thali opening soon, Paisley Road Toll looks like it might be an area to keep an eye out for in the future...