This is only Hector’s third visit to Brick Lane and the first since the dawn of Curry-Heute. In the interest of all things fair, I made the decision to return to the venue that has been on the Recommended List since the start of this Website – The Spice Brick Lane. It was that good, alas it has gone.
I had walked the main stretch three times before I could find a suitable replacement venue. Three things were apparent as I saw Brick Lane in daylight for the first time: most venues are Bangladeshi, they all have tablecloths, they do not serve the Curry I am looking for.
The Award Winning Curry Houses were dismissed instantly, who wants an Award? The Menus in the windows did help me establish that the choice of dish was limited to the mainstream. Dear Reader, if one wishes a Chicken Tikka Masala then support your local Curry House, it all comes out of the same jar.
The Sheba (136 Brick Lane, London, Greater London, E1 6RU) I now discover was awarded Best Restaurant in Brick Lane 2012, so how can any other place be best in London et al? They were modest with their boast. The sign was above the Menu in the Window and given the narrowness of the pavement, totally missed by Hector. It was the Menu that took me in – there was a Dry Curry listed, nowhere else had Karahi, Desi or anything remotely interesting in their Menus, that I spotted.
The Lone Diner entered and was given a small table mid room. Two Menus were offered, I dismissed the Lunchtime Menu instantly, the full Bhuna was required. The Dry Meat (Korai Bhuna) was the order with a Garlic Nan. At £2.70 for what would be a relatively small Nan, this was way better than the requested £2.15 for a solitary Chapatti. Who are they kidding? Am I in Aberdeen? And as we all know, multiple Chapattis are inclusive in Bradford.
The two Chaps on duty were busying themselves as best they could whilst my dish was prepared. I had the trusty HTC to keep me amused. Clive had emailed me directions to Brick Lane and most importantly, the Craft Beer Company near Hatton Garden. From where would I get the 55 Bus?
The Korai Bhuna was presented, it looked wonderful. Hot and Sizzling, I was warned not to touch the Karahi Bowl. The Nan was fresh and puffy, but half the size one would receive in Northern Britain. The Waiter walked passed as I took my first mouthful – Good Curry was my instant complement. Indeed, this was a true gem of a Curry. Dry as the name suggests, the Lamb was so Tender. The magnificently Thick Masala had familiar flavours. There was a combination of Caramelised Onion and probably Methi too. Bay Leaves were picked out, however this was the only debris, Hector ate every morsel.
The Waiter enquired half way through if I was enjoying the meal, well of course, they must know how good this dish is, though his Assistant was heard to ask what it was when it came out of the Kitchen. I took the opportunity to engage in conversation. It was established that nearly all the Curry Houses in Brick Lane are indeed Bangladeshi, so this means I now have to find the Punjabi cohort in London. Clive always remarks that the Glasgow-Pakistanis speak with a Glasgow accent. The waiter sounded very English, so perhaps he does not notice this in his own backyard? A very charming guy was my impression.
£15.00. On composing The Bill, The Waiter instantly realised he had the wrong Price for the Dry Bhuna and so checked from the Menu. Do people not order this wonderful dish? London prices, still cheaper than Aberdeen. The Curry Portion was more than adequate.
The Calling Card was graciously received, the Waiter was happy to have his Photo taken. Later this very evening, Sultan, The Manager emailed me to thank me for my visit. Everything was indeed good and the food was excellent.
I feel I must have a Brick Lane Recommended Venue, and so even after only a single visit it has to be The Sheba.