Hector sets foot on Larbert soil for only the second time
Today was the opening day of the Larbert Ale Fest at the Dobbie Hall. The first visit back in 1998 was in a previous life, I had neither Bier or Curry in mind that day.
Curry was not foremost in the mind of Hector today either, but as the company began to disintegrate around 20.00 and I was the only person who had not queued for food, the stomach was sending out signals. [Stan.TB] my usual Friday co-diner had sneaked into Café Salma for lunch prior to meeting up with us, he had been sated by their excellent Punjabi dish. Jonathan expressed an interest then somehow having consulted his phone, changed his mind – Jonathan had just broken Hector’s Fundamental Rule.
Mr. Google had provided the details of what appears to be Larbert’s only Curry House, the Gulnar Tandoori (50-64, Main St, Larbert, Stirlingshire, FK5 3AR). The reviews online were all positive, this made me all the more determined to try it out. Located on the opposite side of the station from the Town Hall, it was only a few minutes’ walk. The place was modern in layout; the red flock wallpaper had never been hung here. A fountain in the middle guarded the entrance the to the central Buffet area. The serving bowls were empty, no Buffet tonight – good, the chance of a serious Chef being present.
The menu suggested that they were offering something different from the norm, this escaped this commentator. Indeed I struggled to find anything of real interest so settled for the Karahi Gosht (without the dreaded Green Mushy Vegetable).
The waiter came to take the order: ‘Karahi Gosht please with two Chapattis.’ ‘Do you want Chicken or Lamb?’ At this point Hector was taken aback: ‘You cannot have Chicken with Karahi Gosht!’, there was a smile in response. ‘Do you want Rice with that?’ Well of course I didn’t, my Asian advisors assure me that this dish is never eaten with Rice, I had not ordered any. ‘Two Chapattis please.’ I repeated. More fool me as it turned out.
Whilst I waited for the meal Marg phoned offering me a lift, however she did not expect me to still be in Larbert. I had time to count the diners, we were ten. There was another dining room beyond the main room.
The Karahi was presented along with the Chapattis. The appearance was worrying, far too red, therefore too much Tomato. The Onion had not been cooked to a pulp, chunky pieces dominated the Masala, from this moment onwards the word Sauce prevailed in my mind. The first Dip, nothing, then a blast of Spice.
This was far too hot and any chance of the flavours emanating from the dish had been destroyed. More seasoning was certainly a fundamental requirement. The Lamb could have done with more cooking time, it was still too chewy. Maybe I have just been spoiled by the excellence of the venues I have visited elsewhere. I was amusing myself once more with the realisation that this dish was poor and there wasn’t very much of it. However, I came to change my mind about the quantity, but not the ingredients.
The Lamb numbered about eight pieces of varying size, I had to rethink my strategy. I ordered another Chapatti – three with one dish? The Chapattis were fine but at £1.45 each definitely on the small side. (Four large Chapattis included with one’s meal is the Bradford norm.) I was doing my best not just to eat the meat but consume of what was a huge amount of Sauce. For this version of Karahi, Rice would have been a better option. Halfway through the third Chapatti I called it a day.
Another Chap came to remove the debris away and took the time to ask if I had enjoyed my meal. ‘Too much Sauce, not enough Lamb.’ was my reply. He immediately apologised and stated he could have done something about this had he known sooner. I wasn’t complaining, just relating my disappointment.
£9.30. Another waiter brought The Bill: ‘We have taken £2.00 off.’ He assured me. In fact I had only been charged for one Chapatti so I reckon £2.90 had been removed.
I gave my Calling Card at the counter and introduced myself. The Card was passed to the waiter (Manager) who had originally served me. I related once more my comment about too much Sauce and too little Lamb. I now went further and stated that their dish really needs more Herbs, Methi, Coriander, something. The Manager was quite magnanimous and said that he respected my comments. I consider this to be honourable.
The Gulnar Tandoori has its own website, under construction as best I can judge. This suggests they may well take the time to read this narrative. If they feel they can cook me something better I would be delighted to return. Else, Dear Reader, Stirling is a few minutes away and I have never had a bad Curry there. (But, Kenneth, it has been a while…)