REVIEW: Fanfare For The Common Naan

Indian Orchard, Partick

The Time: November 20 2008, 8pm
Booking Name: George Romero
The Pub Aforehand: The Lismore
In Attendance
: Trampy, The Tramp, The Duke, Dave, Ali, Jason, Nick and Ewan

Decor: Traditional curryhouse timewarp: think Pakora Ashley
Expectations: A real unknown quantity.

The Experience:

In Superman: The Movie, self-assured psychopath Lex Luthor asks his henchmen: “Doesn’t it give you a ... shudder ... of electricity just to be in the same room as me?” There was a similar near-tangible sense of anticipatory excitement in the lounge area of Partick’s pre-eminent saloon The Lismore on a seemingly ordinary Thursday night. There, Trampy and The Tramp sat in repose: drinking, waiting, drinking some more and then wondering if anyone was going to actually turn up.

For this was the first night of Curry Club, a cherished social engineering project years in the making. The concept was brilliantly, blindingly simple: to assemble a cadre of like-minded Glasgow-based gentlemen and herd them to one of the city’s innumerable curry houses. But instead of patronising the usual haunts – your Shish Mahals, Mother Indias and Wee Curry Shops – the idea was to go off the garam masala grid to discover new experiences, perhaps even new legends. To go, boldly, where no nan had gone before. (There would also be a small networking element.)

And, lo, the Curry Clubbers began to arrive: names that will now be chiseled into the shifting sands of the internet forever: The Duke, Dave, Ali, Jason, Nick and Ewan. As new friendships were tentatively struck up and new pints were ordered, an onlooker might have gazed upon the scene and been reminded of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, or the formation of the Justice League of America in 1960.

And what of our destination? Snuggled between two of Partick’s shadier alehouses, Indian Orchard has perhaps never benefited from much passing trade, as wary pedestrians often cross the road so as not to get in the way of lairy smokers or preoccupied ambulance crews. But what lay within? As our phalanx of Curry Clubbers entered en masse, the answer to that question appeared to be: “no customers”. But it was also clean, bright and had an atmosphere of old-fashioned efficiency. It also, thank Christ, had Cobra on tap.

The first hurdle of social interaction: I can has poppadoms? Indubitably, and the welcome sound of cracking wafers and slurping spiced onions amplified the murmurs of rising bonhomie. A sneaky spiced pickle was a palpable hit, though the gelatinous nature of the mango chutney raised more than a few comical questions, its fluctuant consistency somewhere between pork pie jelly and breast implant.

The next challenge was balancing the equation of starters, like a deep-fried Krypton Factor. What was the perfect combination of pakora and bhaji for eight hungry men? In the end, the quorum erred on the side of caution, perhaps wary of overindulgence ahead of the main event. The news that cauliflower pakora was unavailable that eve produced varied reactions ­– from despair to high-fives – but the replacement vegetable version was generally enjoyed. During all these vacillations, the service remained unflappable.

While some members had noted the attractiveness of the menu’s cover, others remarked on its relative succinctness. (The European dishes were obviously of a high quality, as a romantic couple were tucking into some fish and chips toward the back of the room.) Our main courses soon arrived thick and vast, including South Indian Chili Garlic Chicken, Parsee Prawn and Butter Chicken Masala. The rice and naan ration had been split right down the middle – two boiled, two fried; two plain, two peshwari – though now such a baseline has been established, wild fluctuations in the coming months should be expected.

As alcohol consumption nudged upward, so did the volume, with several intimate communions being crushed by one juggernaut filibuster insisting all actors are pricks ESPECIALLY those that demand FRESH MANGO or STEAK TARTARE for lunch during dreich shoots in No Mean City. (Though no-one offered a rebuttal in this debate, it trundled on for what seemed like four hours.) But between such boozy thunderclaps, there were flightier anecdotes: including a blow-by-blow description from two former staff members of a city centre bar’s awkward transition from gay haunt to tourist trap. Subscriptions to specialist magazines continued for perhaps longer than was appropriate, and slinging rent boys out of toilets was almost as common as changing a keg (which your reporter took to be slang for yet another deviant sexual practice).

And then, too soon, it was almost over. And just as Thomas Jefferson drank Madeira to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so we eight men drank brandy from sturdy glass tumblers to salute the first ever Curry Club. It was deemed a resounding success, especially when the final bill turned out to be remarkably reasonable. We had enjoyed some fine Indian fare spiced with topical debate, and somehow prevented the entire enterprise from descending into an ugly pageant of inexpert fistfights and slurred recriminations. A team photo outside this latest discovery – now comprehensively mapped and indexed by our amateur team of curryologists – seemed a fitting conclusion.

Later, as our sated, slightly dazed band was drawn back to The Lismore like iron filings migrating toward a magnet, the conversation, inevitably, turned to what had suddenly become the most pressing topic of the evening: where next?

Range Of Drinks: Tennant’s, Cobra but also some fine brandy.

Highlights: The nans, the cheapness.

Lowlight: Seriously, what was the deal with the mango chutney?

The Verdict: A resounding success!

The Damage: £153.70 (tip: £15.30)


Attention, Curry Clubbers! Does this sound right? Let the Glasgow of Curry brotherhood know your thoughts if you like by posting a comment.


Trampy said...


Can I just say that I thought this elegiac, insightful and hilarious piece was beautifully written. Of course, I did co-write it.


Kotdb said...

A fine round up of what seems like a decent dose of curry.

Perhaps as an addition to your very thorough round up you could do a 'snotter index' to describe how hot your curry's are?

It's ok don't pay me now you can just set up a direct debit into my account starting on January 1st 2009.

£40-50 a month should be sufficient to start with.


The Tramp said...

The snotter index - similar to the Scolville Scale for chilli peppers... Or maybe we could judge by the volume of sweat wrung out of a hanky at the end of the main course?