Hector and Marg find themselves in Appleby en route to Leamington Spa to see Pendragon and two former IQ members appearing as the Paul Menel Band. Quality Bier was meant to be available and a surprising choice of two Curry Houses in such a small town. The Desi Spice was Hector’s intended venue for Curry-Heute, however the owner of our excellent B&B advised against this and spoke very favourably about the Ashiana (9 Bridge Street, Appleby-In-Westmorland, Cumbria CA16 6QH). One has to bow to local knowledge, or should one follow one’s instincts and realise that a place with Desi in the name may have something more to offer? We may never know, our table was booked, we would arrive at 20.00.
The menu had the fall back basics and some new names that caught the eye. There was no Karahi or Desi style dish on offer. Was this really an Indian Restaurant? The engraving on the window said Asian. Hector chose the Shorisha, Lamb of course, because it was one of the few dishes that did not list Capsicum, the dreaded mushy vegetable, as one of the ingredients. An interesting blend of Spices was claimed. Marg opted for another new name – Imlea which read like a Tamarind flavoured Patia. It was agreed the Chicken version would be more suited to this style of dish. Three Chapattis were ordered as accompaniments.
Moments later the table to my right was served. I spotted an impressive looking Aloo side dish so sprang up to secure this add-on. Bombay Potato it was then. The table to my left was then served. What could only be Chicken Tikka Masala was set before the Lady, the classic Chicken in a Bowl of Soup. Her Beau was served with an impressive platter of Chicken Tikka. The third dish on the table was a dry Lamb dish. What was this? Why had I not seen anything matching this description on the menu? Would I get something like this, or the Bowl of Soup?
Perhaps, Dear Reader you can predict the answer?
The Shorisha was red and wet. Cue the look of disappointment. The Lamb was in strips which would not be maintained by boiling. This, I concluded was Lamb Tikka, not my preferred option. The Masala not only contained Green Peppers but Red Peppers too. A double whammy against the Hector. These provided the only flavours in the dish. The Masala was tasteless, how they managed this I know not. That the Capsicum dominated is commensurate with my entire campaign against this needless addition.
On a positive note
The Bombay Potato was impressive. The minimal Masala was thick, full of flavour and there was more kick from this than the very bland Shorisha. Three portions of this would have made a very Happy Hector.
Marg may well be easier to please than Hector. She enjoyed her meal in which Mango was the dominant flavour. The brown colour of the Masala was more appealing than the off-putting red. Being permitted a sample I did find this certainly more flavoursome than the bland Shorisha, but too sweet.
It soon became apparent that the three modestly sized Chapattis would not be enough. Being spoiled by Glasgow/Bradford sized Chapattis one cannot know what to expect when one is in The Sticks. Given the amount of liquid set before us a Pilau Rice had to be ordered halfway through the meal.
As the waiter cleared up he asked if we had enjoyed our Meal. ‘One of us did!’ was the reply.
£31.15. This included one large bottle of Sparkling Water and a Coffee. The Calling Card was presented with little acknowledgment.
The staff made no attempt at any discourse about their food.
Marg later admitted that she was puzzled as to why I had not walked out when the menu was presented. Indeed, we could have had a better Curry elsewhere. Anything would have been better this, and I would not have had to compose such a negative review which frankly I do not enjoy.
Should I find myself in Appleby again, the Desi Spice will be the port of call, it must be better, surely?