Kebabish, Victoria Road
Trampy might genuinely believe he paints pictures with words, be they written or spoken, but The Tramp is more worldy-wise. He knows that for people to truly know something they need to experience it themselves. Which is why TATTGOC's cannier chieftain trooped into the legendary Titwood Bar on Glasgow's Southside armed with a steaming paper bag filled with Reshmi rolls from the Halal Kebab House on Albert Drive. These beauties had been discussed during episode 11 of Keep Calm And Curry On – the incredible TATTGOC podcast currently on a credible hiatus in preparation for season two – and had captured the imagination of various Curry Clubbers that rather than continue to field questions about these amazing, spicy chicken kebab-y morsels. After fielding various questions about Reshmi rolls since praising them on the internet airwaves, The Tramp had decided to treat those hardy Clubbers who had turned out for the January outing.
And so Ravi Peshwari, Bobo Balti, Rogan Josh Homme, Sir Spicy Lover and – in a rare sighting in the wild – Garlic Bam had their first experience of Reshmi. And if it seemed a little uncouth to bring food into a pub with as storied a history as the Titwood, the question was rapidly made moot by the astonishingly fast consumption of the rolls. They got a big thumbs-up all round, a fine amuse-bouche for TATTGOC's first official outing of 2013. Like every January for the past four years, the destination was a place that did not serve alcohol, although with Men's Health becoming one of the most popular magazines in the UK, there may be more outings that are booze-free in the Curry Club's 2013 timetable.
The target was Kebabish on Victoria Road, a bright, bustling restaurant that almost resembles a US diner, with booths, red banquettes and – perhaps best of all – an enormous grill in full flame as soon as you walk through the door, immediately making the TATTGOC not-so-secret seven ravenous. The place was busy, with staff in matching black uniforms gliding around the interior like spicy ninjas, and master tacticians that they are, the Tramps had neglected to book, but a spacious booth was found and the team squeezed in around the table. No-one in the squad had made it to this particular Kebabish before but the word on the street was that it was very good, and it had placed well in the 2007 Tiffin Cup, an elite parliamentary-sponsored cook-off that The Tramp follows with keen interest. Poppadoms and lassis were ordered up as the team considered the menu.
Despite their (presumable) New Year's resolution to take more control of their daily lives, the assembled team habitually looked to the Tramps to organise the starter order. After establishing that each lamb chop order contained four of the spicy morsels, they ordered two – to cover the seven bodies there, with an extra to argue over – and some pakora to share, eventually landing on one portion of fish and one of mushroom. Even with Burns Night imminent, no-one took the opportunity to make a toast to the lassis, which arrive in two cool jugs. Perhaps the squad was too busy savouring the cooking smells coming from the grill – this, surely, was one of the most appetising restaurants TATTGOC has ever visited, with each new aroma kindling a new gustatory desire. The Tramps exchanged a momentary but significant glance, suddenly confident in the success of the evening.
As ever, the discussion at Curry Club was just as nourishing as the food. Perhaps deciding that raising a baby daughter didn't represent enough of a challenge, The Tramp had recently embarked on a quest to make his own bacon, and there followed an almost judicial cross-examination about curing techniques and glazing methods. While The Tramp insisted he was learning as he went, he gave off the unmistakable air of authority and expertise. Perhaps we won't have to wait long until he literally writes the book on the subject: Pancetta The Devil You Know. The starters arrived soon after, with what looked like a little more than eight chops spread across two dishes. They were as delicious as the thrill of the grill had suggested, and while different from the Shish Mahal's legendary Hasini lamb chops that have acted as TATTGOC's yardstick of quality for two generations, they were still excellent. The conspicuous extra chop was gifted to the TATTGOCer deemed most deserving of the honour, although Masonic traditions prevent their identity from being confirmed in this report. The pakora was pretty good too.
Once the last of the starters had been polished off, discussion turned to the Jack Irish series of television movies, starring Guy Pearce in that rarest of roles: one that requires him to adopt a convincing Australian accent. These feature-length dramas are based on the novels of Peter Temple, and centre around the dubious machinations of a slick lawyer turned skeevy private eye. Screened in the UK on the Fox (formerly FX) network, Trampy liked them as much as some people like making bacon, which is to say, "a lot". Ever the contrarian, Garlic Bam insisted they were nothing special but with two Jack Irishs already in the can and a further two in production for this year, viewers will soon be able to make up their own mind about these superbly textured, impressively acted and powerfully cinematic adventures. (Terrible name, though.)
While many TATTGOCers had clearly been tempted by a mixed grill, they were loyal enough to the concept of Curry Club to chose their main courses from Kebabish's selection of actual curries. Of these, the chicken desi karahi gosht was the most popular, ordered multiple times, while the spicy outliers included chilli garlic chicken and chicken murgh masala. Continuing his recent expedition into the world of mince, The Tramp had ordered a keema karahi; Trampy had fancied the mixed pickle spiciness of a lamb achari. All of these dishes descended onto the table in plentiful portions, alongside three orders of rice and a trifecta of naan (plain, garlic, keema). It was both a visual, and literal, feast.
The food was superb, and while the pace of eating slowed after an initial mad rush – perhaps due to an overindulgence in Resmi rolls and poppadoms – it did not stall until practically every dish was clear. The on-the-bone chicken karahi gosht got the thumbs-up, and The Tramp seemed delighted with his latest keema experience. The chilli garlic chicken, flagged up as one of the spiciest dishes on the menu, could perhaps have been spicier, but was still extremely tasty. After being extremely busy earlier on when the squad arrived at around 8.30pm, the restaurant had thinned out a little but still had an excellent atmosphere, informal and conducive to chat.
While no-one could even contemplate dessert, the team lingered for a while even after the dishes had been cleared away, noting that Kebabish had set a high quality mark for TATTGOC's adventures in 2013 and arguing about whether Guy Pearce is the greatest actor of all time or merely just one of the pantheon of greats. The reasonable bill was settled, and the troupe happily cartwheeled past that impressive grill – in their minds, if not reality – to assemble for the traditional post-curry, five-a-side football team shot of them loitering outside the restaurant. What a promising start to 2013!
TATTGOC visited Kebabish in January 2013