Between you and me, Mrs Kentishtowner is insisting on a dry January.
‘Such a cliche,’ I howled, as we sat on New Year’s day, guests departed, an unopened bottle of Burgundy between us. ‘After all,’ I continued, fingers stroking its lovely head, ‘that’s exactly what “professional” mid-thirtysomethings are expected to do, isn’t it?’ (And yes, I did make double apostrophes with my forefingers.)
Still, what the good lady wants, she gets, and the first week of sobriety has been framed by early nights, a panic-purchase of DVD boxsets, hearty cooking, and more writing and blogging than normal. Which, perhaps, is good for all of us.
A booze-free existence also makes one consider the eateries that – ashamed as we are to say it – work pretty well without a half-litre injection of red wine: unlicensed cafes, sushi bars, vegan diners, that meze place you’ve never quite got round to trying.
Which is how we found ourselves at new Pakistani joint Lahore Masala House last night. When it opened in the dying embers of last year, we assumed it was just another doomed attempt to fill what has always been a graveyard site. Check that shiny, white interior; the staff checking their watches; the flatscreens.
But it’s thanks to you lot that we even went through the door, as there has been quite a storm of support from readers in our various comments sections. And lo and behold, we discovered that Lahore is actually the new venture from the original Whitechapel Lahore Kebab House - and so even more than worthy of investigation.
The awkward laminate menu makes no concessions to those who know nothing about Pakistani cuisine (this, judged Mrs Kentishtowner, in a pleasantly positive mindset, made it ‘feel like we were on holiday’.)
Many of the dishes were preceded with the word ‘karahi’- which simply means a flat-bottomed wok-like pot used to simmer stews. Along with garlic nan (£2) and pilau rice (£3), we choose Karahi Fish (£7.50) and Karahi Methi Gosht (£7, above right), the latter a very joyous lamb & spinach combination, but it was the former that shone with its match of fish, spices and tomatoes. From the grill, the chicken and lamb tikka (a half portion £4 each, above left) were both tasty, but a half chicken tandoori (also £4, not pictured) was sensational: the most tender breast and leg meat, careful spicing. We were licking our fingers.
And best of all was an ooh-la la onion bhajia (top pic, £3.50). Six beautifully crisp pieces, fragrantly coloured and spiced, that almost melted in the mouth.
If you’ve any doubt of the boys’ dedication to their work, at weekends they’ll do you a whole leg of lamb if you fancy a feast (£50, order 24 hours in advance) And if you are boozing (bastards!), you can BYO of course.
We know the owners follow the blog, so here are a couple of constructive suggestions to end with. We understand that the no-frills atmosphere is your thing, but adjusting the dimmer switch, even slightly, would be easier on our eyes at the end of a hard January day. It’s whiter than a McDonalds toilet in there, made harsher by unflattering mirrors.
Of course, this very basic interior would work fine if the restaurant was packed to the rafters – which, Kentishtowners, is all the more reason for you lot to fill it up. Now.
Have you eaten there? And is it better than the legendary Tayyabs?
Lahore Masala House, 194 Kentish Town Road. A feast for two is around £35 (more than you can eat!) but allow £10-15 a head.
Words & pics: Stephen Emms
A year on and things have changed avoid avoid avoid avoid avoid!
The grill needs to be on and hot!
The naan oven should not be turned off!
Customers on a Saturday night 2?
In case you never got it avoid
Went there last friday and i have to say the food was really amazing!! We ordered some grilled food and curries with garlic naan breads & rice, every single dish came with its superb flavours and perfection. Excellent customer service & beautifull food really impressed us, so i would definitely go there again.
A great addition to the high street (the other "curry houses" are not great unfortunately). Very friendly, great fresh flavours (spinach, keema, kebabs). Clearly "proper" Pakistani food made by proper chefs, not a factory in Slough. They should switch the Sky Sports for some music though. I hope they succeed, they need your business!
I ate there 2 weeks ago for a full meal and all 4 of our group were unanimous in it being excellent.
I've just been at the end of an evening out and had what was quite simply the best chicken tikka roll I've had anywhere. Succulent pieces of chicken, salad, sauce, all wrapped up in a full-size naan bread - superb.I know E-Mono is getting a lot of praise for its kebabs, but for late-night grub (and earlier night meals) Lahore is a triumph.
i've not eaten there yet, but are you sure its connected of the Lahore Kebab House? i asked them on the phone and they denied it! either way if its good, i'm down to try it out
Really can't wait to try this. Anything that breaks the mould of the generic curry house menu needs to be checked out. Were there some inventive veg side dishes (always the acid test)?
Tons of intriguing-looking veggie dishes. Bhaji aside, we stayed firmly in meat and fish territory. Great garlic nan and pilau rice too.