Curry Club – Full Season 2011/12

If you’re not familiar with Curry Club, or even if you are and just fancy brushing up on its heritage, I’d recommend starting here for a brief history.

The following twelve entries mark the outings of the 2011/12 full season.

2012/2013 was a little sporadic but we are all getting back on the horse for 2013/2014. Updates to follow.

Now, to start at the beginning….

7th July – Tandoori Nights, East Dulwich

A big thank you to Mr. Minns for a delectable evening and a superb choice last night to kick off Curry Day proceedings.

For those not in attendance, the outing followed a casual pace with an initial pint of ale at The Palmerston before moving onto the main event at Tandoori Nights.

Impeccable service, delicious Pakistani Handi’s (with a side of bawdy gags) and a quite superb Tarka Saag Daal were my personal highlights.

The evening was rounded off with a brief live jazz interlude at the small (but economically viable*) Adventure Bar accompanied with two Caiprinha’s and two White Russians.

* according to a July 7th 2011 survey carried out by R ‘P’ Pritchard & S Williams.

4th August – Lahore Kebab House, Commercial Road

A stellar turnout marked the occasion of our second monthly Curry Club rendezvous at the Lahore Kebab House, Commercial Road with many new faces among the grizzled veterans.

The evening commenced for half of the group with an alfresco pint at the Hoop and Grapes. The establishment boasting a fine selection of South West ales (Tribute, Doom Bar) along with the usual continental lager. Different drinks, different people.

Wielding black bags of Cobra, we approached the humble eatery. “Enough meat for nine” was the order and saw a splendid array of curried lamb chops, tandoori chicken and sheekh kebabs flood the table. “This is what curries should be about – meat” chimed Dirtbox, nailing the lamb with a fresh chapatti.

The main course fractured the group into two splinter cells, in keeping with the Pakistani theme of the House. Lovely dishes all round. Associate Dyson chose this moment for the odd action of hurling his bowl of curry onto The Lawyer’s plate, splattering The Lawyer, Kev and Dirtbox with delicious sauce. Poor curry etiquette indeed.

Several minutes of indecision later, the group found its way to what has now become a post-meal theme: a bar with 2-for-1 cocktails. Vintage chat all round. “Out of everyone here, who would you let your mum shag?” was a highlight with Dyson emerging as a strong favourite.

1st September – Gurkha’s Diner, Balham (guest writer: Boxing Steve)

Chapter three saw the club Loyalists brave a bustling northern line, hampered by delays. Emerging to the dim twilight, the loyalists, dizzy and apprehensive, each set upon Balham High Road (was it North towards gentrified Clapham, our south, as they hoped, towards Tooting Bec London’s own subcontinental republic? They wondered*)

In the shadow of the monolithic Du Cane** Court, nestled Gurkha’s Diner. Quaint and inviting, this curry house had a certain plain and self confident charm. An original menu, aromas of ginger and peanut whisked the Loyalists, upon entering, from the default Bangladeshi-Indian comfort zone, miles up the Bramaputra to it’s Himalayan source.

Whether or not the curry really was or wasn’t “Madras Heat”, didn’t matter – what the dishes lacked in heat they compensated in exquisite flavour and texture. In the tenderest way possible, the Knuckle of Lamb knocked the Loyalists, for six.

*It was south
** (literally “of the evil one”)

6th October – Village Tandoori, Abbeville (guest writer: Pedro)

October’s Curry Club began in the delightful Abbeville pub with several pints of Doom Bar in hand, championed by Phillips for it’s creamy taste and fabulous heritage. Just a short gaze across the road was Clapham Village Tandoori, the venue where the staff waited in anticipation for the 9-man booking they had received on a usually quiet Thursday night.

They hassled and hurried the 8 Curry Club attendees along to order their starters but the members were united in holding off until the 9th member, Boxing Steve, turned up 30 minutes later to salvage his ‘Curry Ace’ status.

The meal got underway with the usual procedure of poppadoms accompanied by chilled King Cobra’s. Alcohol flowed and jokes were shared, a cursory mention of curry-throwing incident at the Lahore Kebab House a few months earlier and the latest inappropriate e-mail to infiltrate the global institution’s e-mail system this time provided by Paul Salter and shamed by the ever so ‘traditional’ Simon Williams.

Potential customers of the opposite sex glanced at the menu outside as they marveled at the calibre of gentlemen sat inside and it wasn’t long before the first trio were located at the table adjacent to us, Dyson later claiming that he caught their eye on several occasions.

The Curry Club members filled up on the delightful food, taking full advantage of the 50% off and as such the post-curry walk was a leisurely one. Gigalum was the destination, a trendy bar close to Clapham South tube where many a White Russian and premium lager were enjoyed.

There was trouble afoot however, the man who had earlier saved his curry status despite his tardiness had decided to breach rule 5 of the Curry Club Code* and subsequently forfeited his point for the night and status at the summit of Curry Club. The crowd left in joyous mood and in anticipation of November’s Curry Club to be hosted by Paul Salter, coinciding with his 25th Birthday month.

*Rule 5 – No WAGS

3rd November – The Coriander, Vauxhaull

Following a month marred by duplicitous controversy, the Club was keen to set the record straight and return to its flavoursome roots. In fine fashion it achieved both of these and a firm tip of the cap must go to Paolo Salteri, our Manager of the Month, for choosing the quite excellent venue and surrounding entertainment.

The evening started for four members at the Black Dog – a delightful gem of a pub without ostentation. TEA (not in the bagging sense) was the tipple of choice, a sturdy Surrey offering which made a nice change of pace from the creamy South West ales.

An eventual tour-de-lad of 10 members descended on the main event at 332 Kennington Lane with two new faces and notable, high flying absentees. El Cobra did flow accompanied by some superb chutneys to kick off proceedings, the raita getting a particular mention. The menu gave a welcome nod to our original outing with the inclusion of a traditional Pakistani lazeez handi. Unfortunately no one went in for one this time but it did provide the usual banter.

Mid-meal entertainment was provided with Dyson yet again hurling curry like it was going out of fashion and a spectacular round of ‘fold Kemps face‘.

A special mention to Dirtbox who stole a last gasp point with a classic one-two Dansak/mushroom pilau combo.

The Club was thrown into momentary dissaray at the bizzare closure of South Pacific Bar but thankfully, showing the reason why he is the only residing Curry Ace of the pack, member Simian took charge and led us to welcoming, wooden-paneled Tommyfield pub up the road with a fine selection of beverages.

Lager, cider, White Russians, whiskey, a couple of pennying incidents and glorious hangovers all round.

1st December – Palace Spice, Clapham

“I’ll be there bang on six,” claimed our prestigious host, member DB, for our halfway and end of year wintry meet.

“Can you get me a guest ale in….I need it desperately!” he followed up with a text, 07.01pm, and sauntered into the deliciously well stocked Battersea Mess and Music Hall twenty minutes later. Textbook.

Eight ales on offer, a few US crafties and two local ciders. Highlight: Adnams Lighthouse for £2.50: ‘always’.

An unusually long pre-pub sesh meant appetites were rampant upon arrival at Palace Spice and the seven-strong Club inhaled crispy poppadoms with ruthless alacrity.

As is tradition, the classic ‘pairing’ approach to side dishes and mains thwarted a flash-in-the-pan Communist ‘let’s all just share and probably not have much of anything’ rebellion that threatened the evenings pleasantries. Hopefully this will be finite but there will always be revolutionaries.*

In equal parts begrudgement and sheer delight, hushed murmurings fluttered around the table between mouthfuls of the show-stopping recommendations (Garlic Chilli Chicken and the Mixed Tikka Grill to name but two) to tentatively declare this the best curry sampled at the mid season point. High praise indeed.

Three Irish, two French, one Welsh , one Calypso and a Belgian Dip**. Not a salacious gag, but liquor coffees all round for the gentlemen.
It would be hard to ignore the Colonial nostalgia thrown up by the attentive Bangladeshi staff with their complimentary baileys, whiskeys and firm handshakes. 50% off the food and top marks for service.

A few tropical cocktails at the open Sugar Cane, a few beers at BarSocial and a stroll home in the rain.

Back of the net.

* ‘Democracy is the road to socialism.’ Karl ‘Yarnold’ Marx
** “That’s how we drink it in Belgium. It’s called a Belgian Dip.”

5th January –Tayyabs, Whitechapel

The Ace is dead, long live the Aces, was the cry as three early bird members braved the winding alleys of East London to descend upon a true diamond in the rough, The Carpenter’s Arms. Maintaining a firm and approrpiate professional attire (suits, ties and a pair of felt gloves) amongst the hipster clientel, the trio saw off a swift pint apiece before returning to the brisk night air. The London Meantime Pale Ale left opinions divided.

Third off-licence was the charm, as Cobra gold was struck upon with a cheeky two 660ml for £4 deal, fulfilling the BYO component of the evening.

A hop, skip and jump over to the bustling and controversial* venue for the meet. The door to Tayyabs opened and the Club was welcomed instantly by member Boxing Steve who clearly moonlights as a curry house door greeter. A noble pursuit indeed and we shall be looking out for him at future events!

The four were ushered to a table downstairs and joined swiftly by member Pinky, belatedly by member Salad Boy. Pinky unveiling a threesome of Kingfishers as his chosen beverage (the first of the season we believe) and Boxing Steve, clearly underpaid in his new profession, whipped out a four pack of canned Carling boasting ‘quantity over quality’. To say it came back to haunt him would be an understatement.

The dinner conversation mulled over the obvious absentee, classic chat and New Beacon days of old.

Pete Croft Baker, our resplendent host for the evening, made a shrewd recommendation of the curried meats and they filled the Club’s plates en masse. Hard to pick a favourite, the cough-inducing lamb chops were excellent and just edged it. Simply named but devilishly tasty Karahi’s followed. Serious stomach distensions all round, Boxing Steve now really suffering from his earlier purchasing folly.

Clearly invigorated by memories of Beacon past, Boxing Steve hailed down a fellow diner outside in this fashion:

Steve (pointing at a random): You! You are a Beacon boy!
Random: err…no.
Steve: Yes…yes you were. You are a Beacon boy!
Random: umm don’t know what you’re talking about.
Steve: I swear you are a Beacon boy!
Random: Oh…New Beacon. Yes, yes I was.
Steve (smug, to the Club): I told you he was a Beacon boy!

The club headed for a few trendy cocktails at Exit Bar to the soothing backing tracks of Shaggy’s The Bombastic Collection**. After indulging in a few fly infested shots and a game of fives, the club went there seperate ways for another month.

A Boris Bike down to Monument, a tube and bed.

*See Dirtbox vs. Cecil Von Bismark, December 2011.
** http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boombastic-Collection–Best-Shaggy/dp/B001CTUHWE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325859440&sr=8-1

2 February – Radha Krishna Bhavan, Tooting (guest writer: Boxing Steve)

“I will unfortunately be unable to make this”…”Regrettably, I also have an unavoidable prior engagement this Thurs”… “Apologies, I will not be making this wks event”… “No can curry.”…”currently in the alps and so also cannot attend”…

“I’m unable to attend, which both saddens and … amuses me.”

As the apologies flowed in, it suddenly dawned on Dyson, the Designated Chooser, that he may be about to lose points for hosting a “non-event”. Gingerly he mustered the strength to type “Who is actually in?”

A silence of email traffic ensued, broken only by ever-shortcut-literate-Dyson nervously hammering F4 at increasingly regular intervals. Later, and after a sleepless night, attendance was confirmed by MD, P, K, and BS, to Dyson’s completed and utter relief.

After a couple of smooth jars of Mad Goose at “The Albatross“*, the evening moved from Avian to Asian, as the Loyalists headed to Radha Krishna Bhavan, known to Dyson as ‘tootingsouthindian.co.uk.’

A quick scan of the menu alerted the Loyalists to the culinary complexities of South India, at which point the five were relieved to see Boxing Steve withdraw a list of South Indian recommended delicacies etched on the back of a business card, from his wallet, and present it to the waiter.

“These, and any more of your finest dishes!” They briefed the waiter, with the unwaivering trust of newborn babes to a father. The result was a south indian banquet fit for a King, or, in this case, an Ace or two! (that’s Pinky and Disco!!!)

Onwards, and to a quiz night they went, and found endless amusement from finding pens and paper at the table. Comedy cock-drawing and jokes ensued; a night enjoyed by all and thanks go out to Dyson.

* or perhaps the antelope, although rewriting the line just wont do.

1st March – Needo Grill, Whitechapel

The Club early birds huddled around their amber pints of Crouch Vale Brewers Gold (Supreme Champion British Beer 2005/2006) against a Spring evening air that was both mild and ripe with philosophical debate;

“Should those that live in flaky houses cast stones at others?”
“Like the tree in its forest, if a Club Member hosts an event but no one can see him, does he get the points?”
“Does it really take only eight minutes to walk from Cannon Street to the Pride of Spitalfields pub?”

After careful deliberation, the four member present surmised;

Yes – but it must lead to good banter.
Just the one.
No – only a member as technophilic and addled as English Dan would reach such a retarded conclusion. It, of course, takes at least twenty-two minutes.

With the world set to rights, the Club ventured onwards down the winding Whitechapel cobble which in yesteryear played host to the oft misunderstood poverty reformer ‘Saucy Jack’. Fortunately, upon arrival (and only after a short wait) the proud new Ace flanked by his three Kings descended on a table already strewn with all the sauces they would require for the evening.

The devilishly hot mint (not to be confused with its cooling Raita cousin) was a highlight and definitely a leading contender for biggest Jonny Cash of the current season.

Due to the staggered nature of member appearances, the Club continued to munch down a dazzling ‘anti-dearth’ of pakoras, lamb chops and kebabs for the better part of an hour. No complaining but at least one prophetic concern from member Steve as to main course stomach capacities.

The usual Communist rumblings were present but a few seat swaps for easy access and Democracy ruled once more. Some cracking dishes – the Bindi Bhaji well received and a Keema Naan that was reticently yielded back up to the kitchen only half eaten. How right he was.

The Curry Club Armada truly (and eventually) let fly out of the Boris Bike traps with all six members taking to the streets in search of a post-curry bar which had been left controversially unprovided by our illustrious host Kev for the evening.

Drag races down to the Monument for cocktails taken in very welcome armchairs, some top-drawer 80’s rock* and home to bed.

*This is in fact by Starship

5th April – Gopals of Soho, Soho (guest writer: Boxing Steve)

The lads met at “The Endurance” on Berwick Street for some pints of ale. While some scoffed at the three-option offering, others just swigged away regardless (was there time to have another and make it to the restaurant in time), and the wiser gents plumped for Gin and Tonics, mindful of the necessary stomach capacity that is so often a CC concern.

“Cobras all round please” – there was certainly no need to ask the Club here. “starters?” “do I have to sit next to Nev” “no! Side dishes!” “poppadums?” “do you mind if we?… [gesture with poppadum towards the chutneys]”

[All the usual comments, made as ever, as a matter of course, despite the high profile absence of Chinead CK. Mothergate* – the reason for the absence, had been leaked the previous Monday. An all expenses paid Good Friday shop with Mother was the only silver lining to this dark dark cloud.]

“REMEMBER TO MENTION THE GREEN SAUCE IN YOUR WRITE UP MINNS” bawled Kév across the table, rudely forgetting Steve’s lad name during a rare moment of eccentric enthusiasm. But he had a point. Said Green Sauce, whose contents were much mooted by the lads, was one of CCs best to date.

On the whole, the classic strategy of “own main – share sides” was used, all lubricated by an auto top-up of Cobras (large).
A good night all round was had by all, but as bloatedness and weariness set in, the Club, decided to go home.

The “Home” – that is – of Thursday night blues!!!! Yes, that’s right. Thanks to a stroke of genius by Glen’ole, stage 3 was a Rockin’ night at the famous St Moritz Club known as Gaz’s – the best way to rock in Soho, established in the last century!

First on the scene, the lads hovered up dozens of easter eggs, set up camp, and tucked into the cocktails. Despite some peelers and flakers, it was a long night of dancing and singing (some song about monkeys?). Steve (aka Adrian) made a stage appearance as the club “put their hands in the air for Adrian”. Dyson showed predictably solid form on the female front, and Nick G (the newcomer) was the last man standing, who, having got a taste for Sennockian form with the lads, rooted out a female OS and, we can only assume, [insert your own joke about wood/carpentry/skills with wood].

Glen’ole, the next day, bombarded with congratulatory messages. One read: “Quite the best fun EVER had at CC…”

*Leaked Extract:

“Jon,
Reminder that it’s Mum’s birthday on Wednesday. We are going out for dinner on the Thursday (5th) as my birthday is on the 6th. Can you make it for dinner and if so do you want to stay over and do your birthday shopping with Mum on the Good Friday?
Let me know so I can book a table.
Dadx”

3 May – Masaledar Kitchen, Tooting (guest writer: Boxing Steve)

CONTROVERSY was the name of the game as FURIOUS debate arose over the repetition of venue choices. The Tooting Tram and Social was selected as a venue, as well as the Albatross (or was it the Antelope?), as the initial pre-Ruby destination, invoking UTTER FURY from the lads.

The height of the controversy was market by Dyson’s characteristically cutting and snide remark: “Is it acceptable to reuse a venue? Tooting Tram and Social is where I took The Club for after dinner drinks when I hosted.”

The sentiment REVERBERATED across the wires of London, with one anonymous punter even going so far as to say: “It’s a delightful place… That’s where I started mine too!”

Following a breakdown in relations, a small cohort of lads made it to the Masaledar Kitchen.

The venue was a fusion restaurant, with a menu exhibiting Spring Rolls, and Spanish tomatoes.

In the end, the more seasoned loyalists plumped for, in the main, Madrases (originally from Chennai, formerly Madras, India) with the remainder going down the fusion route and selecting the Jalfrezi (Jhal from Chinese/Bengali, and parhezi from the Urdu word for diet).
The food was absolutely delicious – “some of the best we’ve had!” it was proclaimed, in front of a suitably appropriate golden backdrop (was it made of real gold? Or Pyrite? Or glitter?)

Onwards and to the TTS for a game of INDIE BINGO. Of course, no one knew what the rules were, or whether or not it had started, but the lads, lads as they were, won anyway.
” 满贯!”…
“बिंगो !”…
“Maison Maison !”
They cried, in unison.

8th June – Delhi Grill, Islington

And so it ended in glorious fashion as the Club parted ways after the season finale – one onto a spicy date with his latest PWC squeeze, others to dance the night away under the haze of over priced mojitos and finally some into the greasy embrace and sordid throes of a 15 piece Chicken Cottage Value Bucket and chips.

The Club started the evening in the pub formerly known as The Compass. An ominous smell of mock-mahogany and grey paint, instilling a sense of dread in the first two members, hung heavy in the gastro air as they were ushered towards a long table and informed, with a knowing smile, that they would have to order drinks “from their waiter.” They quickly scanned the paper thin and faux-stained menu in front of them. Yes, the caramel and salt pork crackling at 5 each sounded delicious but where oh where was the beer!?

Several feet away, peering over at the taps was the only option. They called the skinny Asian garcon back over to order a pint a piece of pale ale A Murder of Crows. The Club members chortled among themselves that a pale ale should have a black label over the pump. This chortle turned to a flabbergasted squeak as they were interrupted by their server only to be asked:

“You know that’s an ale, right?”

The beer was delicious. Needless to say the tip was found wanting.

Onto the colourful Delhi Grill for the main event and a refreshingly simple menu split into tandoori and traditional curries. All offerings were delicious and, not for first time this season, I find myself writing that the curried lamb chops were a particular highlight.

The dahl divided opinions – some finding it too watery, others eating the leftovers of said people with relish. Needless to say, a solid amount of Cobra was imbibed, flowing effortlessly between brown bottle, pint glass and mouth in a well oiled machine as you would expect from a season’s practice.

The final League standings were announced with some late entries from Seabass and Gaz Stocker, obligatory boos and hisses for absentee Get in the Hole and culminating in the crowning of our resplendent Curry Ace: Pinky Salt(i)eri.

After a fairly long hike by CC standards, we bypassed one Wax Jambu (too many lads – guilty as charged) and onto another bar. Memories are fairly scattered at this point but here’s most of them:

-Member Dirtbox, afterinitially winning the favour of a number of ladies towards the start of the night, being branded a misogynistic pig by the very same
– Cocktails (bestnamed and worst tasting Pedro’s Dark Side) costing upwards of 9 a pop
– Member PCB making a late appearance and proceeding to get hooned
– Member Dyson trying to cop off with a small blonde girl but, as usual, being pipped to it by Member Boxing Steve
– A really irritating and rotund girl called ‘Hilary’

Here’s to September – cheers chaps! x

One thought on “Curry Club – Full Season 2011/12

  1. Pingback: Curry Club 2013 ‘Winter Formal’: Gymkhana | The Whimsical Onion

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