It’s not widely known that Queen’s Crescent was where one of the UK’s biggest ever curry firms first set up shop.
Back in 1957, a certain Mr Pathak arrived in Kentish Town with his family. Unable to find authentic Indian food locally, they started making authentic meals to sell to the local Indian immigrant population. And out of this humble enterprise grew iconic brand Patak’s, which now apparently supplies an astonishing 75% of British curryhouses with sauces and spices.
And, let’s face it everyone likes a curry, right? None more so than Mrs Kentishtowner, who’s firmly of the school that a good curry should be a 5 minute crawl from the sofa (she doesn’t do delivery). And so by virtue of geography she awards Malden Road’s Bombay Bites her first choice, but both their lamb shashlick (£6.95) and tender chicken tikka (£4.95) are undeniably spot on.
Other places we frequent include the open-air curry stall on Queen’s Crescent market (Thurs & Sat lunchtimes), Fleet Tandoori and the excellent Aroma Spice (both on the fringes of Gospel Oak) and, like most locals (and many broadsheets), the critically-acclaimed Bengal Lancer.
“Ah! the splendid Lancer,” agrees Tom Kentishtowner. “As a vegetarian I’m always looking out for places that offer more than the usual identikit side dishes; therefore the sinfully good aubergine, chickpea, cheese and flaky pastry pie at the Bengal Lancer is an unexpected delight. I remember when it had zebra skin seats, jungle-themed water features between the tables and a thick pile red carpet – classic decor from a lost age. They also had a picture of Neil Kinnock’s shadow cabinet Christmas party held there sometime in the 80s. Perhaps it’s even still a Milliband fave?”
Perhaps. And what about you lot? Well, @nellefant agrees with Tom:
“I’ve always absolutely loved Bengal Lancer for really interesting dishes. Staff are lovely, too. Only gripe is it’s a bit overpriced, so we only go on special occasions nowadays. I’ve tried Gulshaan which was tasty enough but a bit too small inside for comfort!”
Laura Murray (Twitter @StarbarMurray) rates it a little more highly:
“Admittedly, ambience/ decor inside Gulshaan isn’t up to much but the curry is second–to-none in my opinion.”
For those of you in the Tufnell/Dartmouth reaches of the manor, here’s @JS:
“I recommend you try Liberty Kebabish on Chetwynd Road, on the site of the old Chameli, whose chef was a proper talent (but whose food was more top Mumbai hotel than Anglo-Indian high-street.) This Punjabi joint offers the closest thing to Indian home-cooking you’ll get in NW5. Unpretty, shall we say “boldly-spiced” dishes are cooked by the owner’s wife, but everything is good, and the veggie dishes and breads are outstanding. The mistake they’ve made is that the place looks like a high-street Indian circa 1995 rather than someone’s front-room, which would be more fitting for the cooking. Consequently, it’s struggling but the food makes it worth a visit.”
Yes, the sun is shining and a hot curry is the last thing on your mind, but indulge us: are you a rogan josh or chicken korma kinda person? And where else in NW5 do you recommend?