Charcoals (23a Renfield St, G2 1LU, Glasgow) is a Curry House that every Glaswegian has passed. The Renfield Street location is on a prime site a block away from Glasgow Central Station and also on the main North-South Bus Route through the City. Charcoals as a Restaurant is easy to miss as it looks to be yet another Takeaway venue, Hector admits to more than one Pakora purchase before a late train home.
Tripadvisor have it ranked very highly on their Site, The Herald did a review some time back which was not too complimentary. However, Charcoals won the Best of Glasgow Award at a certain event which Hector and Marg attended at the start of this month. Hector last set foot on these premises sixteen months ago, I was in a hurry, so any Curry was acceptable. Today would be different.
The entrance is adjacent to the much more obvious larger Takeaway opening. Two individuals sat at tables in the narrow passageway, one would turn out to be The Boss, the other, a young lady disappeared. I was taken to the larger main interior and given a small table at the back wall. A young Waiter who be Mein Host for the visit was very polite and brought me the Drinks Menu and the Menu. I had time to peruse the food on offer and take in the fact that the room felt much brighter than on my last visit. The décor is fine, one can forget the strange entrance once one is in the near-Tardis venue. I estimated there was seating for thirty.
The Sparkling Water was ordered and I then challenged the presence of Desi Karahi in the Pre-Theatre section but not in the Main. I was assured that Desi Karahi was available and so thought I better order it. I did not feel inclined to pay £1.30 for a Chapatti and so ordered the Aloo Paratha at £3.50. There must be logic in there somewhere.
There was a sign advertising free Wi-fi, Mein Host wrote down the Password for me, service!
The trusty HTC kept me amused whilst I waited for the Curry. Mein Host came over and advised that the meal would be a couple minutes more – it was being prepared ‘fresh’ – as he put it. I was in no hurry and did not feel I had been waiting a significant period. I was the Lone Diner, so save any Takeaways being served, the Chef had no distractions.
The Meal was brought, the Paratha was pre-sliced and was in a Basket. The Lamb Desi Karahi was served in a decent sized metal Bowl, it looked to be just the job. Mein Host insisted on laying the Linen Napkin on my lap. This was a far cry from last Saturday’s Curry Experience.
The Masala was Brown and quite thick. The Onion base was complemented by just the right amount of Tomato. The latter had not changed the colour to bright red, thankfully. The first Dip with the Paratha revealed a very pleasant, but not overwhelming flavour. Fresh Coriander had been sprinkled over the dish. When the Coriander was encountered there was a Blast! A highlight. The Lamb was plentiful and very tender, Hector has done well with Lamb of late, or is it re-discovery after the distraction that is Venison? The Paratha was disappearing fast. Aloo Paratha is my favourite. Normally I can never finish one, today I was carefully calculating when it would be no more. It could have been larger.
Mein Host appeared once more to check on my progress. A new Waiter came on duty and immediately came over to check if he could do anything, all was well.
As I made my towards the end of this Curry it struck me that although well above the average, it did lack the ‘wow’ factor but also seemed very familiar. This was the classic – when it works right – Hector Home-Cooked Curry!
£14.20. This was within acceptable parameters.
Hector does not normally issue a second Calling Card, however how else was I to introduce myself as a Curry Award Short-listed Candidate to Curry Award Winner? Mein Host told me he has been here a year and had insisted that the décor was improved and the Menu choices kept at a realistic length. This explained the Desi Karahi phenomenon. The Card was taken to the Chap who had been sitting in the doorway as I entered, The Boss. The Boss was familiar with the Curry-Heute Website having read about it in an Asian Magazine. We discussed further their market niche. They know they do not have the premises to compete the the flashier joints in Glasgow but feel they above well above the basic. There are plans to expand, I suggest they do something about their entrance. How many must think this is just a Takeaway?
My next visit may well be for the late night sneaky Pakora, their Curry I can taste any-time, at home.