REVIEW: Rasoi To Believe

Rasoi, Partick Cross

The Time: March 17, 8.15pm

Booking Name: Neil Jordan (apparently he loves hot curries, which is why knows all there is to know about The Crying Game)

The Pub Aforehand: The Dowanhill, Dowanhill Street

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, The Bulldosa, The Duke, Rabbie Shankar, Rogan Josh Homme and returning wanderer Ali.

Decor: The Rasoi has been recently refurbished in warm, earthy colours making it seem very cosy. There is also some nice abstract art on the walls. 

Expectations: The curryhouse that used to be on this site, Millennium Platter, had long been a TATTGOC punchline so, for good or ill, the squad were very curious to find out what Rasoi had to offer ...especially on St Patrick's Day.

The Experience:

Only a pair of impossible fools would arrange a Curry Club meet-up on the same night as St Patrick’s Day, right? But that’s just how Trampy and The Tramp like to do things, mixing and matching cultural stereotypes and signifiers at will. Earlier on that fateful day, The Tramp had kindly hosted a pre-meet-up screening of Leprechaun (1993), a frankly ridiculous horror movie starring a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston as a young lady in peril and a post-Return Of The Jedi Warwick Davis as the shoe-loving sprite of the title. Even with the analgesic aid of some cans of draught Guinness, this outing was garish, borderline incoherent and veered wildly in tone from slapstick comedy to stomach-churning horror.

And the film was arguably worse.

Just kidding! Don’t make that face, Tramp! As it turns out, TATTGOC's March madness was actually pretty good, turning over some pretty ingrained preconceptions in the process. How intriguing ...

(Click to read more ...)

Originally, the Tramps had targeted a long-standing Ibrox curryhouse for March’s excursion, but a couple of factors altered their thinking. First of all, a large percentage of the Curry Club voyage toward Hamburg at the end of the month, so keeping things cheap was an absolute priority. Also, someone pointed out that Rangers were playing Dutch team PSV Eindhoven the very same evening which – as well as sounding like the least St Patrick’s Day thing to do possible – might have jammed things up a little. So the decision was made to keep things close to The Tramp’s stomping ground of Partick. And so Rasoi was chosen. Never heard of it? Perhaps that’s because it’s a brand-new venture on the site of the legendary – some say notorious – Millennium Platter, a curryhouse with a decade-long innings that became synonymous with a range of bargain basement All You Can Eat And Drink offers.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Initially, the seven-strong squad mustered in Partick’s friendliest boozer The Dowanhill. Thursday is jazz night, but tucked up the back of the spacious premises, the squad could sup their Guinness and converse without drowning out the chanteuse with their guffaws and snorts. There was some notable absences – including Rumpole Of The Balti, Sir Spicy Lover and The Gheezer – but in a near-inversion of February’s outing, The Duke, Rogan Josh Homme and Rabbie Shanker subbed in instead. Also exciting was the re-engagement of the man known only as Ali, who had last managed a Curry Club back in 2009 – at an East End venue apparently no longer with us. Boisterous, kind and enthusiastic, Ali embodies many of the core values of TATTGOC. All he needs now is a decent nickname.

While travelling by Lucky Charm-powered rainbow to the nearby Rasoi, the troop passed the new Pakistani Café outlet set to open at the bottom of Byres Road, peering through the windows with interest. Formerly The Long Way Home and Ad Lib, it’s a large space and one that no-one seems to have managed to quite make work. The Rasoi, though, is much snugger and almost unrecognisable from its Millennium Platter days. Back then, the shopfront favoured an eye-searing gloss blue and yellow frontage. Now the exterior and interior have been redesigned in warm, earthy shades (it also feels like the bar has been moved to create a bit more room).

If the vibe is substantially more upmarket – with solid furniture, smart tablecloths, sturdy napkins and soothing music – there still remains a slightly Platter-esque presence in the form of a cannae-be-beat meal deal: a full Indian buffet and three pints for £14.95 (Mon-Thu; it’s a bit more at the weekend). In truth, it was this recession-busting prospect that had called to Trampy and The Tramp like a spicy siren. Especially when they discovered Kingfisher was part of the deal.

Perhaps everyone else was out drinking Guinness – in any case, the TATTGOC troop had the place to themselves. Having pre-booked in for the buffet, there was no need to peruse the (strikingly smart-looking) menus but it's worth mentioning that as well as a la carte selections, Rasoi also does an interesting-looking Tiffin which puts an interesting spin on the increasingly popular thali concept. Choosing from four pre-selected loadouts of three different curries, you get your main course served in an attractive traditional Tiffin tin, complete with rice and naan. If there had been less than seven Curry Clubbers in attendance, the Tramps would have been tempted by this offer, especially as it seemed like there wasn't any overlap between the delicious-sounding Tiffin curries and the buffet selection (in other words, it's not as if staff simply go to the buffet for you and dollop some spoonfuls into the tin). Another day, perhaps.

After ordering the first round of drinks, the squad were invited to help themselves to poppadoms and such while the finishing touches were put to the starters. A more organised crew might have sent one scout up ahead to collect a plateful of starters and a selection of dips but like hungry, impatient schoolchildren, the entire Curry Club jostled into a line to grab their 'doms, mostly foregoing the opportunity to spoon onions and raita into separate little silver eggcups in favour of just whacking it on their plate. It wasn't pretty, but it was pretty tasty.

Soon after, the starters were ready to go and so the rambunctious line snaked up, conga-style. Among the usual vegetable and chicken pakora, there was the odd bit of chicken chaat, which was rapidly snapped up. Those toward the end of the line complained bitterly that they didn't get a chance to taste the chicken, but their patience was rewarded when a freshly-cooked new batch arrived soon after. While the rest of the starters were deemed tasty but not spectacular, this chicken chaat got an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

So far, the service had been pretty hands-off, which was fine since TATTGOC are obviously curryhouse veterans. But perhaps a little more direction would have been helpful – if only to point out what the different pakoras were or mention that more was on the way. (In a recent, non-Curry Club-related visit to India Quay, Trampy experienced the ultimate in buffet hand-holding, where every aspect of the affair was politely explained in great detail – it was like eating with spicy sat-nav, in a good way).

Despite their many combined years of buffet experience, it didn't take long for someone to break the cardinal rule; don't fill up on starters. But the lure of fresh chicken chaat proved too much for the Club, and eventually everyone went for a second go-round of starters. With another round of drinks on the way, TATTGOC settled into its usual, wide-ranging conversational groove, which essentially amounted to recapping the plot of Leprechaun (1993). This is perhaps the only recorded instance of TATTGOC talking about shoes.

Having allowed at least half an hour for digest their starters, the team formed up for their attack on the main courses. The selection was generally based on tried-and-true classics, and something about the shiny, distinctive colours of such curries means it's almost impossible not to instinctively select a dod of each, creating a plate that looks like an artist's palette. No need to calculate a rice/naan equation when everyone can help themselves, and in a buffet situation it would be churlish to grumble about pre-cut naans.

You'd think after a round of Guinness and three pints of lager, not many Clubbers would make a return visit to the main course buffet. But, of course, you'd be wrong, as some of these brave souls found room for a bit more chilli garlic chicken. TATTGOC generally avoids much lavatorial discussion but it would be remiss not to acknowledge that there were a lot of comfort breaks during this particular outing, and the Rasoi's facilities are as attractive and scrubbed-up as the front of house, which was obviously most welcome.

Once the (shockingly reasonable) bill arrived, the Curry Club pulled themselves together. Another table had just walked in the door, and there had been a steady stream of takeaway business, so it looks as if the Rasoi is off to a promising start, and even while leaving on jellylegs, Trampy and The Tramp silently vowed to look beyond the buffet on their next visit, because those Tiffin tins look simply delightful. Then they were back into the night, cold air slapping at their whiskers, seeking somewhere for maybe just one final pint of Guinness. Needless to say, it was all Dowanhill from then on ...

Range Of Drinks: Kingfisher and Tennent’s on tap, plus a notably well-stocked bar.

Highlights: Hard to argue in terms of value, chicken chaat was roundly praised.

Lowlights: A bit more buffet direction might have been helpful.

The Verdict: A very Rasoi-nable experience!

The Damage: £104.65 (tip: £13.35)

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Anonymous said...

This place will deff be a major hit in time I now the management (Rosh) is a top in house manager and owner no one will be let down for service and customer values must pop down soon, jay