Green Chilli Cafe, Glasgow’s West End

Hector’s Holidays are Hectic, not Horrible

In the first full day of the Spring Vacation, Marg and Hector left their modest domicile and headed towards the West End. We have not been to Mother India’s Café for some time, still Marg’s favourite. Alas we were advised that it would be  twenty minutes before a table would be free, we did not have twenty minutes to wait. The adjacent Dining In had previously not impressed, despite being in the same chain. The Ashoka, fundamental to the Harlequin chain beckoned but was not open at lunchtime. We crossed the road to another Harlequin venue, the Green Chilli Café (1293 Argyle St, Glasgow, G3 8TL), this would be our first visit.

This venue was known as The Spice of Life for years. The Manager would tell us that they relaunched under the present Moniker to serve Authentic Indian Food. The Menu did not convey anything out of the usual, but time would tell.

We were sat after a few moments of wondering if there was anyone on duty, at the window seat on the Balcony. Two further upstairs rooms completed the seating area. The downstairs remains the Bar. Do folk enjoy being held here and plied with alcohol and hence run up a significant sum before being seated? The Waiter gave us the Menu and that was the last we saw of anyone. With my back to the room I could hear folk finishing off and leaving. The place might have been busy this Holiday Friday Lunchtime, a quieter period was looming. We sat, and sat, still no service. Eventually, having dealt with The Chaps seated behind me, Marg called over the presumably very busy Waiter. I told him we had been waiting more than ten minutes to place an order. Marg thought it was much more than ten. With a single Soft Drink priced around £2.50, the £3.50 for a Litre Bottle of Sparkling Water looked like the better option. The Waiter wrote this down and attempted to move away. Whoa!

You are ready to make your food order? – he asked. The Hector look was cast.

Marg had been looking forward to what she thinks is the best Butter Chicken anywhere, served at Mother India’s Café. She would try it here, along with a Mixed Pakora. All Dishes were available as Full Portions or Tapas at half the price. Half a Portion one then assumes.

I had Machi Masala in my mind as we drove to the West End. The Goan Fish available at Green Chilli has a Coconut based Masala, not for me, today anyway. The Desi Lamb had to be tried. Bhindi Gosht was ordered just to maintain my Lamb Levels. What did have Hector excited was the availability of Daal Makhani, a wonderful Dish I have only been served in Europe. I was puzzled to read Tomatoes as part of the Ingredients, hopefully there would be no Red Overdose. The order was recited. The Waiter wrote it down. Plain Paratha – he said, Hector had not spotted any other Paratha on offer, so why – Plain? Marg opted for a Roti (£1.00).

And so we began the wait, again. A Waitress came on duty, maybe the service might improve. By now we would have been much better waiting the twenty minutes at Mother India’s Café.  A lot of waiting.

Doris brought Marg’s Butter Chicken and her Roti. My Two Lamb Dishes were brought along with the Daal. No Paratha. Marg started whilst the food was hot. Hector had no means of eating his Food without the Paratha. Yet another wait whilst my dishes cooled. Eventually, the Paratha and the Mixed Pakora arrived. There was an apology for the delay.

The Butter Chicken could not possibly be as good as…, it wasn’t. Marg described the Butter Chicken as being Sweet and to her Palate. She was surprised at the Tomato content and hence the Redness. Yes, a Classic Plate of Soup, Tomato Soup! That Marg had to take some of my Paratha suggests the Roti could have been more substantial. The Pakora, normally a Starter, arriving last was amusing. The number of pieces was towards the Minimal. When one compares what a typical Takeaway gives for a similar price then one is left to consider profiteering as a motive.. Haggis Pakora is no more than Haggis in Batter, the same essentially as served in any Chip Shop. I do not see the attraction.  A Gimmick? Enough on this.

The Desi Lamb had four Pieces of Meat, one cannot help examine Lamb closely these days… very Dark Meat… Whilst cooked well, the Tapas Portion meant one was getting into when the Meat was gone. I was left with a heap of a Classic Thick Masala, but again Soup came to mind. The Desi Lamb was clearly distinguishable from the Bhindi Gosht by coming in a different shaped bowl. The Desi had a sliver of Red Capsicum, the Bhindi a couple of small pieces of Okra. Apart from this there was no apparent difference in content. The Masala in the latter was much the same as the Desi. On the positive side, this Masala was Well Seasoned and had a considerable amount of Flavour, it was pleasant, simply excessive. Hector, as we know, prefers More Meat and Less Sauce!

Now the Daal Makhani is Soup. A Thick blend of Cream, and today Tomatoes, and usually an array of Lentils. This version featured Black Lentils only. However, having searched for months to find it I could not consider disappointment. The Paratha came into its own. This was a lovely thick Paratha and scooped up the remaining Masala. It was ten employed as anticipated to enable the Daal to be enjoyed.  A beautiful Dry, almost Musty Flavour.

It was at this point that The Manager explained the plan to be Authentic. I found nothing different in what had been presented, the Daal Makhani excepted. As far as I am concerned this Venue sells Mainstream Curry. One is also left to speculate as to the existence of a Central Ashoka Kitchen? Mother India have admitted to Hector that their food is prepared in one place and sent out to their various outlets. The Manager also said his Boss was on the premises dining with his Mother. This would be Sanjay Majhu himself. But more importantly his Mother would possibly  be The Mrs. Majhu! Now it was in Mrs Majhu’s, now the Wee Curry House on Byres Rd., where Hector had the Driest Curry he has ever been served in Glasgow. This was a legendary time, one could not get enough of this Lamb Dish.

The Bill

£30.55. We had been fed, the Meal was pleasant enough.

The Aftermath

The Calling Card was presented and went straight into the pocket of the Waiter. Did it ever see the light of day again. He apologised once more for the delays. The Curry Heute Calling Card has now been presented in three Harlequin Outlets. As I let Marg through the door she remarked – I don’t think you’ll be coming back here. Indeed true, and I doubt if there will be a fourth Calling Card.

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