When ?Stan! suggested we try the Banana Leaf this evening I assumed he meant the original venue in the West End, alas it was the newer Southside restaurant (105 Albert Drive, Glasgow, G41 2SU) he had in mind. Dr Rick and Hector arrived punctually, ?Stan! was slightly late, unheard of and further proof that the man we used to know was kidnapped by Aliens.
This gave Dr. Rick and Hector more time to come to terms with the strange language that is the South Indian Curry Experience. ?Stan! was issued with a menu by the young Doris who then took a long time to take the order.
Hector was ravenous, tradition would be broken and a Starter was declared. I also recalled that the portion size in the West End outlet was not that large. Tonight I could eat for Scotland. The Chaps decided that the Vadai range sounded appealing, Hector chose the Masala Tawa Fried Fish.
There are fifteen Non-Vegetarian main courses available. By the time one eliminates Chicken and Coconut the choice was reduced to four. ?Stan! asked for the memorable Attu Erachi Kozhambu (Lamb curry made of special ground chettinad spices with a touch of pepper). Hector ordered the more straightforward Lamb Chettinadu, the difference between this and the previous dish was not clear. Dr Rick went Vegetarian – Kadali Gassi (Chickpeas cooked in Mangalorean special spices).
The accompaniments could only be Chapattis, the Rice dishes were not straightforward and £4.70 for Rice felt excessive. Six Chapattis were ordered.
A Diffident Doris
There was time to take in the surroundings. This venue is much more aesthetically pleasing than the small café premises in the West End, very bright, very new. A couple entered and was sat right behind us. A family came in and was given space.
The wait felt significant which I cannot complain about when it is hoped that the meals are being individually crafted. Doris brought the Starters, The Chaps had essentially Patties with Dips, nothing that I found to be particularly appealing. The Fish was excellent. There was no Masala, this was a dry dish. The Fish were indeed spiced and the flavour although not distinctive was pleasant. Four small pieces were enough to whet the appetite for the Mains. This was a good choice.
There was another wait before Doris brought the Mains. ‘Chicken Korma?’ She asked. My heart sank, surely she has not cocked up the order? Dr. Rick was given his Chickpeas, simples. I reminded her that I had ordered Lamb Chetttinadu, she gave ?Stan! the darker of the two remaining dishes and me the lighter, then she changed her mind and swopped them back, worrying. Doris was determined that the side plates would remain on the table, whatever their purpose was lost on Hector.
The Attu Erachi Kozhambu had Coconut, so I am glad I did not go for that one, Hector prefers bitterness to sweet. ?Stan! found the taste pleasing and so was content. Dr. Rick stated that his dish did not actually need the Chickpeas in order to taste them. Profound.
The Lamb Chettinadu had the very distinctive South Indian flavour with Curry Leaf to the fore. The Masala was thick and full of flavour, most enjoyable. Given that this is the same dish as I had ordered last year in the West End it was night and day. Somewhere I read on the menu that they do not use Cream, to create this texture is down to the pureed Onion, superb. The Lamb was poor, in fact the Lamb was dreadful. It was either undercooked or was of a very poor quality, only the Chef could answer this. What made matters worse; there was not very much of it. The Main courses were served in the same sized Karahi as the Starters. Had I not had to chew so much I would have been finished in seconds. The Chapattis too were on the small side. I was glad that the Starter had taken the edge off the appetite. It was a pity that the quality of the Lamb did not match the Masala.
The schoolteacher voice had to be utilised in order to procure the Bill. Dr. Rick had given up trying to attract Doris’ attention.
£31.50. This was appreciably less than anticipated. The Chapattis did not appear, so perhaps Rice and Roti are inclusive? ‘Authentic South Indian cuisine at affordable prices.’ – indeed!
Somebody mentioned Bier. On a Friday night?