Friday, 27 March 2009

10. Khana

68 Cricklewood Broadway
020 8452 2789

Gourmand writes: Rumours of this blog's death are greatly exaggerated. After selling his soul to science, Gormless has cobbled together enough coppers to purchase a bowl of curry and half a peshwari at "north-west London's number one Indian restaurant" (their words, not ours). I downed a celebratory lassi, salty not sweet; toasted Gormless´ renewed solvency, and was overcome with emotion thinking about London's most obscure food blog stumbling sheepishly into double figures.

A week later and here I am in Portugal, trying to find the comma button on a demented keyboard, looking longingly at the beautiful River Douro, drinking ludicriously cheap tawny port, and trying hard not to think about the drab interior of 68 Cricklewood Broadway. But as the humble, hideaway comma slowly reveals itself with the help of the mysterious Alt Gr key, and lunch's cream-topped bacalhau and green wine distributes its calorific charms to rosy cheeks and a fresh bump of Portuguese port-belly, I regretably recall a table of lads furiously debating the merits of Tottenham Hotspur's new left-back. Yes, it's all coming back to me. I remember reading the menu, seeing they served curry-flavoured curry, and wanting to punch the waiter.

I recall my surprise that we ate decent, perfectly acceptable post-Beaten Docket Anglo-Indian grub, although, as a Briton, I was only claiming my birthright and reasserting my national identity. The chicken jalfrezi was predictably low on the green chillies; the Pakistani lamb was surprisingly mild for something made with "the chef's special blend of 12 spices" (maybe they all cancelled each other out?), and the peshwari nan was exceptionally sweet, like it had been melded together with marzipan. Yum, kind of.

Portugal has nothing on the Cricklewood Broadway. I yearn for the flavours of home.

Gormless writes: Sorry, readers, but the Gullets hiatus was caused by my lack of money. Gourmand, always keen to combat the "fecklessness of the working class", has invested my Giro in gold bullion. He assures me that this will bring a return of two Gullets trips a month, for life.

The first of these trips took place last Friday. It was an Indian, which means another of those popular Gullets sub-battles: Pink Rupee versus Khana. Unloved Pink Rupee drew heavily on its Indian/Nepalese heritage; Khana is very much an English Indian. Not only did they play beer and cheer indie anthems, but the customers were either lads sharing football insight or dining families. I've always said that "curry is our national dish" (ref: Beaten Docket Immigration Debates, 1992-present) and places like Khana are set up to make the most of this. I am not saying this is right or wrong. It is just the way it is.

We ate three curries and their usual accompaniments. Apart from the spinach and cottage cheese dish it was pretty predictable fare. It was all tasty, everything ran smoothly and it passed without incident. A nice meal, then, but Khana's professionalism, efficiency and ambition (their aim is to be the best Indian restaurant in north-west London) does not fit comfortably onto Cricklewood Broadway and some character has been sacrificed.


Overall score: 14/20
Khana cruises into third place