All alone in the upstairs dining room eating the curry that I have been assured is probably the best in all of Glasgow – maybe even the UK – and suddenly a group of people come clattering up the stairs and bounce into the room carrying life, vigour and chatter. Some, I notice, have the well trimmed beards, the waxen moustaches and the bobby hats that often signal the presence of the hipster brethren. Fellow worker ants in the relentless quest for decent food.
Aha, I think, welcome. A scouting party. Here to confirm that, when it comes to flavour at least, decor and atmosphere simply don’t matter a jot. Perhaps the Karahi Palace with its Tradeston-trademark neon sign (does it even work?), its foreboding entrance and its challenging location is about to become all viral a-go-go.
But before they even reach one of these red, cream and blue banquettes, while it seems they are still in actual motion, they do one of those cartoon character stops. Turning and looking quizzically at the room, which is a tad tired certainly but nothing a good pressure wash wouldn’t fix, one of them is magnetically drawn to the, er,
blood-red stain on the back of a seat. Paint, I’m assuming.
“So this,” he says theatrically, addressing his compatriots, “is the Pal-ass.” And with that they swivel as one and are gone. Whoosh. Leaving just me, some settling (metaphoric) dust, my karahi gosht and a speech bubble containing a deep sigh that hovers long above my otherwise empty head.
I will look for them later downstairs when leaving but as I only bolted upstairs because the seated carry-out counter area was so unwelcoming, I don’t expect them to be there. They’re not.
Perhaps they got the same greeting I did. Man in a suit. With a tie. Carrying a laptop. That’s me. “Yes?” was pretty much it. I can’t remember if there was music but if there was, in my mind anyway, it immediately stopped. A bit warmer, maybe one degree above freezing, after I made it clear I was simply here to eat.
Another degree further up the Fahrenheit scale when I actually order. But at no point do we get anywhere near smile-o-rama. I imagine that would take very many visits.
The funny thing is this: I’m so cheesed off with the whole experience, long regretting having sat upstairs in the empty dining room when at least there was life at the front counter, that I’m completely taken by surprise by the lamb chops
Lamb chops in Glasgow, in an Indian restaurant – who hasn’t had them? Usually they are okay, occasionally chewy, rarely special.
These? Meaty, sweet, every single one of them – and I paid buttons for four – charred, yes, but also supremely tender and of the highest quality.
A chill and coriander naan that’s puffy and fiery is here too and then the waiter guy arrives with the pot of lahore karahi gosht.
Now I swithered between the karela gosht and the karahi gosht, really a question of whether to take the bitter gourd route or tread more mainstream.
Ultimately I follow the recommendation of Curry Heute, that startlingly committed Glasgow curry lovers’ website, whose author has been here more than 100 times. Check it out.
And the lahore karahi? Lamb on the bone, big meaty, full-bodied hunks, an almost dry yet deep, powerful and hot –
as in spiced – gravy and of course,
lemony coriander, streaks of biting ginger. I like it.
I have a kofta anda too, meatballs, boiled egg – always so good in a curry – and in some ways it’s better than the karahi, but simply because there is less lamb bone clunking about and more of that deeply flavoured sauce.
Is this the best curry ever? I dunno. But it is certainly very good. Think Tomb Raider for foodies – if you can you get past this decor and surmount that welcome.
0141 429 5442
Open: seven days til late
Menu: Their famous Lahore Karahi of course, proper on-the-bone-only curries, lamb a go-go. Good Naans too. 5
Service: Hmmm, I was wearing a suit and tie and wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. But they did serve me in a straightforward fashion. 2
Atmosphere: Zero would be too harsh because in some quarters this tired and slightly higgelty-piggelty take-away cum worn-out restaurant look could be seen as, er, fashionable. Again. 2
Price: Honestly? Dirt cheap, buttons all round; sizeable main course specials around £8, starters seemed to be under a fiver. 5
Food; This is clunking lamb bones, full fat flavours, rippling spices and more than a flamethrower’s worth of heat. I have no doubt it is completely authentic and it is also very good. 8