Le curry

4. Takeaways

Le Popadom, Greenwich
(Takeaway)

Although there’s no apparent reason for the touch of French (menu includes Le Traditional Dishes and Le Tandoori Grills) this takeaway has quickly established itself as one of the best in the area.

Prices are very good (Chicken Madras £4.15, King Prawn Pathia £8.15, Sag Aloo £2.85), food tasty, service is quick (10-15 minutes) and staff friendly. The waiting area is small but smart. And a round of applause for whoever designed the menu; it’s not often takeaway menu will catch your eye, but this handy sized one is smart and classy.

One day you’ll be telling your children of the days when you could get dinner – Chicken Rogan (£4.50), Pilau Rice (£1.95), Keema Nan (£2.05), some Lime Pickle (65p) and a can of Coke (70p) – and still come home with change from a tenner.

Parking: on Greenwich South Street.

Delivery: free within three miles for orders over £10.

Beer while you’re waiting? it might be a bit down-at-heel for some but The Graduate is on the corner opposite.

Le Popadom, 141 Greenwich South Street, London. Tel: 020 8692 6686. Open: daily 5pm-11pm. le_popadom@hotmail.co.uk

Le Popadom snapshot

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Le Popadom on Urbanspoon

Indians not cowboys

3. Reviews (International)

Little India, Calahonda, Spain

Run by friendly Punjabi Sikhs, Little India has a reputation for being one of the best Indians in this popular coastal area which attracts a lot of ex-pats and tourists who often go looking for a spice fix when it’s time to take a break from the beach and the umpteen bars.

Based along a road that is more commonly known as The Strip, which offers a plentiful supply of restaurants and bars, it uses the catchy slogan, ‘You’ve tried the cowboys, now try the Indians.’

One Brit, who’s been in Spain 14 years and run an Indian restaurant here himself, declares this a ‘seriously decent curry,’ and this in an area where he tells me ‘most curry houses aren’t really worth bothering with.’

 

Bold colours and intricate carving work give Little India a striking look

The décor is striking and distinctive, with orange plates, bright, large, red (and comfortable) chairs and plenty of intricately carved arches. The bar, in particular, is worth checking out, for this alone.

Popadums were complimentary, while top of the dishes on the table was the tasty Chicken Patiala (€9; although note that seven per cent tax is added to the bill at the end), served in a large earthenware pot. The Lamb Madras (€9) also got the thumbs up, not only because it was ‘as hot as it should be’ but also because there was a decent amount of lamb despite fears of a small serving because of the cost of the meat in Spain.

A decent, if pricey, Bombay Aloo (€6), a generous double serving of Pulao Rice (€2.50 per serving), and tangy lime pickle (complimentary) completed a decent curry night. Only the Roti (€2), which was more like a half-leavened nan, fell short of the mark.

Little India, Conj. Buena Vista L-21/22, Avenida de España, Calahonda. Tel: +34 (0)952 93 18 29. Open: daily from 4pm.

Little India snapshot

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Hot décor

3. Reviews (International)

Maharani, Calahonda, Spain

This small but beautifully decorated Indian came highly recommended by locals. Run by an Iraqi guy who used to import spices for the other curry restaurants but decided he could do better, the exterior has beautiful wooden laticework, while the interior has a fantastically electic collection of lights, wall fittings and other objects. A trip to the toilets up the spiral staircase gives a great birds’-eye view of this little gem of a place.

The days when this place was overflowing at the seams with reps and sun-seekers thanks to the timeshare business has passed but it remains popular. It’s cosy inside for winter but has plenty of room outside for table in the summer.

The menu is a bit limited, although all the classic options are there. There are only six choices for appetisers but the Mixed Appetisers (€9) are a good option with onion, brinjal and cauliflower bhajees, chicken tikka and lamb seekh kebab piled up.

Quite unusually the super hot Phall (chicken €8.50, lamb €10, prawn €11.50) is actually listed on the menu (and not left to request only) so the chicken version was ordered to raised eyebrows from the owner along with its ‘junior’ cousin, Chicken Vindaloo (€8.50). They lived up to their expectations on the heat front but both had a slight rawness to the taste as if the spices neeeded frying off a bit more.

The Chicken Tikka Masala (€9.50) was tasty, although strictly for those who like it very buttery and the meal topped off with Pilau Rice (€4) and Butter Nan (€2.75), and all washed down with ice-cold draught beers.

Maharani, Ctra. Nac. 340, Urb Dona Lola, Calahonda. Tel: +34 (0)952 93 10 53. Open: daily from 6pm to midnight.

Maharani snapshot

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Real tasty

4. Takeaways

Tasty Hut, Dublin, Ireland
(Takeaway)

One of many cheap-and-cheerful takeaway places along this strip, which is about a 15-minute walk from the centre. It’s worth the walk as the prices plummet as you head away from tourist central to the locals’ hangouts. This place also offers a ‘eat all you can buffet’ (€5.99) out back on a few tables but is essentially a takeaway place.

Delivery: daily 5pm to midnight (1am on Fri and Sat)

Specials: Rice/naan or chips with any main course, 1.5 litre Coke or 7up, poppadoms, mint sauce and onion dip free when you spend more than €50.

Tasty Hut, 61 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin 1, Ireland. Tel: +34 1 8733 756. Open: noon to 4am.

Tasty Hut snapshot

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Now we’re talking Brighton

2. Reviews (Other UK)

Akash, Brighton

Despite its grand, red Mughal-esque shop front, the Akash is real-no-mucking-about-great-value curry house. As it should be when you’re in need of some spice at the end of the night.

The excellent, and extensive menu, has all the classics in the various guises (chicken, lamb, prawn, king prawn and tikka variations) as well as tandoori, balti, Ceylon and Malayan dishes as well as a few Englsih dishes (remember when all curry houses had Fried Chicken and Chips, £5.95, and Prawn Omlette, £5.95, on the menu for the friend in the group who ‘didn’t like hot food’?).

And while the house specialities (Chicken Tikka Green Masalla, Lamb Chat Masalla) are all around the £7.95 mark, there is value galore in among the classics (perfect amount of fresh tomato in the Rougan Josh, £4.65). Now, let’s be honest, at £3.95 for a Lamb Curry and £1.50 for rice, what’s the point of cooking yourself?

Prices are kept down by the cuts of meat so breast lovers should note the little footnote (65p extra for breast of chicken). But who says no to a bit of thigh every so often?

Akash, 26 Preston Street, Brighton. Tel: 01273 324 494 or 01273 820 213. Open: Mon–Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight, Sun noon-midnight.

Akash snapshot

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Bye bye Taste of India

Curry News

It’s been a while now but for those who don’t know, the Taste of India has closed. I always liked the place, especially the lunch buffet, which gave a good opportunity to taste a few dishes in one sitting. But, it seems, central Greenwich, unlike the rest of the country, seems incapable of sustaining more than one curry house in the same street. Only one thing for it… eat more curry you lot.

Where’s the sizzle?

2. Reviews (Other UK)

River Spice, Brighton

Empty restaurants tend to turn people off, yet in this busy street of smart bars and eating places (a fair few curry houses), River Spice was buzzing so it must have something going for it.

I’m always a sucker for a fresh-smelling sizzling dish. It’s the theatre. So when a very tasty tandoori (no false colour added) arrived at the next table, I was hooked.

‘That’s the Mixed Grill’, (£10.95) the passing waiter told me when pressed, although he looked a little uncertain. But when the Mixed Grill (Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka and Seekh Kebab) arrived the sizzle had mysteriously disapeared (in all senses).

It wasn’t the same dish the neighbouring table was enjoying (more likely it was Chicken Shashlik, £7.50) and it wasn’t sizzling. Look, if it’s theatre you’re after at the table then it’s theatre you should get.

Still, the replacement Punch and Judy show looked okay. Er… sadly not. A Mixed Grill of (really) tough lamb and over-cooked chicken; just why was this place busy? Had the chef who won the 2010 Curry Chef of the Year Award from Brighton & Hove City Council moved on? The saving grace of the dish was the beautifully spiced Seekh Kebab. Very tasty.

The Chicken Tikka Chilli Masala (£7.50) redeemd things to some degree with its eye-watering chilli kick, although if you skirted the fresh chillis, the sauce was surprisingly tomato-based bland.

Maybe I just had the hump at this stage. Which was not helped by the Papadum Tax either. A whopping £3.60 for four paps indeed, thanks to 60p per papadum and £1.20 for the chutneys. I kid you not.

River Spice, 17 Preston Street, Brighton, BN1 2HN. Tel: 01273 739 183. Open: lunch daily except Friday, and daily 6pm-11pm.

River Spice snapshot

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Spice on the beach

3. Reviews (International)

Karma Café, Goa, India

Although it’s not a Goan dish, Chicken Kolhapuri is found in many of the restaurants in the region. One of the best places to enjoy this spicy dish is in the super chilled beach bar, Karma Café.

Karma is run by the energetic owner Baba who’ll be seen doing everything from ferrying fresh fish from the market, serving beers, cooking food and fixing the pool table between spells of popping down to the beach to chat to his wife and little boy.

Kolhapuri is named after the town Kolhapur, which is to the north of Goa in Maharashtra. It’s about as hot as Goa’s most famous dish, vindaloo, but dare I say it, has more flavour, somehow combining burn-in-the-mouth fire with great taste at the same time. It’s addictive and should, of course, be washed down with a cold Kingfisher. Or three.

Watching it being cooked in the small kitchen out back is mesmerizing. Cooked in a pan heated to the limit over an open flame, the chef tosses in ingredients – onions, garlic, ginger, spices and chicken in turn, with the wild sizzle from the pan only being doused briefly when he adds a spoon of sauce from giant pot of masala sauce on the side. At the same time the chef uses a pot of steaming oil to cook popadoms fresh in seconds, the flat disk recoiling into its familiar post-cooked shape of curls and twists almost instantly.

Of course, it tasted better because I had watched it being cooked, but back at the table of this open-air restaurant, with my feet wiggled firmly into the sand floor and watching the moon bounce off the Arabian sea out front, it would be impossible not to get a kick from this dish.

Karma Café, Baga Beach, Goa, India. Open: about 10am–midnight (sometimes later) in season (October to April).

Karma Café snapshot

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Nothing like the real thing baby…

3. Reviews (International)

Jamies, Goa, India

Jamies is an oasis in the madness of Baga Road. When you’ve had enough of endless tooting horns (nobody seems to realise they are meaningless when used so often), hawkers, and dirt and grime of this vibrant road, pop into Jamies, without doubt one of the best restaurants in the area.

A beautiful restaurant, nicely designed and well laid so every table has plenty of space to breathe (you need it occasionally in India), this is relaxed outdoor eating at its best.

The restaurant specialises in barbeque and tandoor cooking so not everything is ‘Indian’ but the tasty Tarkari Jalfriezi (Rs 195) was hot and spicy and if anyone can find a more tender, tasty Murgh Tikka (Rs 195) than this place does then I want to know about it. Mop it all up with freshly cooked rotis (Rs 25 each) and Kingfishers.

* At the time of the visit £1 = Rs 70, $1 = Rs 45.

Jamies, 7/188 Sauntavaddo, Baga Main Road, Goa, India. Tel: 00 91 976 4362 379/976 4364 377.

Jamies snapshot

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Whisky and curry

Recipes

Mandeep Grewal, Johnnie Walker brand ambassador, pairs his whiskies with some classic Indian dishes.

• Chicken Tikka Masala (tandoor-cooked chicken in a creamy tomato sauce)
A classic dish deserves a classic like Johnnie Walker Black Label. Although Chicken Tikka Masala seems a fairly simple dish the preparation is very complex: from marinating the chicken with selected balanced spices to putting it on charcoal fire and then using a number of natural flavours like tomatoes, nuts, spices and fresh cream. There is a lot that goes behind the scenes. In a similar way the natural flavours of Scotch whiskies present in Black Label make it a complex but a very balanced whisky, using whiskies from all the regions of Scotland. There are creamy vanilla notes from the Lowland Grain whiskies, fresh fruit and citrus notes from the Speyside malts, rich and dried fruits from the Highlands and a hint of smoke or barbecue from the Islands and Islay. Also, just like the slow marination and slow cooking process of Chicken Tikka Masala, nothing is rushed to produce Black Label. Only whiskies aged in oak casks for 12 years or over are selected for the blend. Try the whisky on rocks or with a splash of spring water.

• Lamb Vindaloo (very hot with a little vinegar)
This robust classic deserves a robust beauty such as Lagavulin 16 year old malt from Islay. It is the only whisky that can tame the fiery nature of this dish. Also Lagavulin has a meaty body that complemnets the red meat in the dish. Try this whisky with a splash of mineral water.

• Prawn Dhansak (sweet and sour with vegetables and lentils)
Fairly hot, sweet and sour prepared with lentils this is a great sea dish that would be complemented by the only whisky from the Isle of Skye – Talisker 10 year old malt. The flavours of the sea in the prawns are further enhanced by the sea weed, salty notes and a warm peppery finish of Talisker. Try this whisky with a single cube of ice or a splash of chilled mineral water.

• Chicken Korma (mild, aromatic and creamy)
This extremely pleasant and mild creamy dish can be lifted up by the balanced flavours of the sea, forest and fruit present in the blended malt Johnnie Walker Green Label. The four signature single malts in this blended malt – Cragganmore (Speyside), Talisker (Isle of Skye), Caolila (Islay) and Linkwood (Speyside) – are subtly apparent but work in harmony to form a smooth flavour that changes each time you pick up a glass. Each of the single malts in the blend are matured for a minimum of 15 years in oak casks. The smoothness of Green Label complements the smooth and nutty flavour in Chicken Korma. Try this whisky with just 2-3 ice cubes and let the ice melt slowly while sipping it.

• Onion bhaji (spicy onion in batter)
This spicy and herby starter is balanced with the robust blend Johnnie Walker Red Label. These Indian dumplings are fried with flavour and work just right with the younger whiskies present in Johnnie Walker Red Label. As it is a starter I would recommend to enjoy Red Label with lots of ice topped up with either soda water or dry ginger ale. It’s a great refresher that would complement this classic starter.

• Kulfi (Indian ice cream)
Finally the dessert whisky. My choice would be frozen Johnnie Walker Gold Label or frozen Clynelish 14 year old. Gold Label is a blend of whiskies aged 18 years or more and is the lightest blend in the range. The malt whisky that sits at the heart of this blend is Clynelish whose distillery’s water prospectors once panned for gold deposits released from the red granite rock. When frozen these whiskies give a honey heather flavour that finishes with some dark chocolate notes, making it a unique dessert or after dinner drink. Serve from the freezer and sip from a frozen shot glass along with the creamy kulfi.

This article first appeared in the SA Whisky Handbook 2009

1926 and counting

1. Reviews (London)

Veeraswamy, Regent Street, London

 

Veeraswamy's décor aims to capture the atmosphere of a Maharaja's palace in the 1920s

 

It’s not often (make that never) the GCC has to book a table for its monthly curry. But, hey, it’s Christmas (almost), so a month’s notice was in order (and even then we had to change nights). But it was worth it to try the oldest curry house in the country.

Veeraswamy has been around since 1926 and they don’t mind reminding you of the fact on everything you see in the place, from menus to wine lists and more, so much so you’d think the place is actually called Veeraswamy 1926. But who can blame them? Because although this wasn’t the first Indian to open in England (that’s said to be the Hindoostane Coffee House, 1810), it’s the oldest surviving one, and that’s some achievement.

‘Not exactly the _ _ _ _  [insert name of any local curry house] is it?’ exclaimed the GCC members at first sight of the décor, with the array of turbans lining the walls, the gold screens and the mellow lighting (no flash photography in here please).

 

Bet it didn't look like this in 1926

 

 

Prices are double a decent curry elsewhere and treble a cheap and cheerful one down your local, but you don’t come to Veeraswamy to save money.

Crab kebab (£11.50), Duck kebab (£10), both served on banana leaf, and very plump Scallop Moilee (£11.50) got the ball rolling for starters along with a round of Cobras (£5.85 each).

But the best was yet to come. Huge portions of Raan Akbari (lamb shanks) and Hyderbad Lamb Biryani (both at £23) set the tone with super soft and tasty lamb, spiced to perfection, clearly with delicious and fresh whole spices. The latter is said to have been on the menu back when they kicked off in 1926 so they’ve clearly had some time to perfect it. Which they have.

The Chingri Malai (£23) also didn’t disappoint when it came to huge plump prawns in its creamy sauce. No fiddling around looking for shrimps in this dish. Ideal for dipping the Tandoori Roti (£6.70) into. Heaven knows, the GCC knows a few things about Indian food, but it’s not often they rave about a roti like they did here.

Gosht Hara Salan (£23) and soft, soft Saag (£7) cooked with tasty, tiny chunks of crunchy onion, ensured there was plenty of green on the table, while a Murgh Makhani (£17) delivered a sense of normality to proceedings.

The Nectarine Tandoori (£6.75) soon put paid to any thoughts of normal though. Whoever thought up this slightly caramelised dish, well done to you. Tandoori Nectarine indeed.

But like the place, it has to be tried by every curry lover.

Veeraswamy, Victory House, 99 Regent Street, London, W1B 4RS (entrance on Swallow Street). Tel: 020 7734 1401.

Veeraswamy snapshot

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Veeraswamy on Urbanspoon

Meeting (December 2010)

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Billed as the oldest Indian restaurant in the capital, it’s only fitting that Veeraswamy (99 Regent Street) will be hosting the GCC’s Christmas shindig. Monday 6 December, meet in Cheers further down Regent Street for general discussion about party poppers and paper hats in this strictly-needs-booking place.

Cobra 2-4-1 curries

Curry News

Check out cobrabeer.com/nationalcurryweek for 2-4-1 offers when you buy a Cobra. There a few participating places near SE10 but the offer only lasts till 25 Nov…

Half-price offer no. 2

Curry News

The recently opened Greenwich Tandoori Takeaway  is offering 50% off between 1-7 November if you are collecting your food.

There is free delivery within a four-mile radius for orders over £8 (plus a free papadum), while if you spend over £15 you’ll get a vegetable side dish thrown in as well.

Dishes include Salmon Sashlick (£6.95), Prawn Chilli Masala (£5.95), Fish Rangila (£5.95) and Tawa Lamb (£5.95), while old-time favourites such as Chicken Madras, Prawn Vindaloo and Meat Dupiaza are keenly priced at £3.60, £4.50 and £3.95 respectively.

Greenwich Tandoori (44 Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 0JU. Tel: 020 8858 9559/9998).Open: daily 17.30-23.30 (23.00 Sunday)

Half-price offer no.1

Curry News

Monsoon in New Cross are running a special of half-price food and drinks for ‘a limited period only’ (which they don’t specify) when dining in. If you’re after a takeaway you need to get your hands on one of their £5 off curry vouchers (when spending £20) to add to your free delivery and free onion salad.

Specialities include Chicken or Lamb Tikka Zala Masala (£5.95), Prawn Makhani (£5.65), Lamb Tikka Badami Pasanda (£5.85) and Tandoori King Prawn Masala (£7.85).

Monsoon (338 New Cross Road, New Cross, London SE14 6AG. Tel: 020 8692 1588). Opening hours: daily 17.30-midnight.

Meeting (November 2010)

Uncategorized

Old Bill, organiser of this month’s curry-up, has pushed our ever-expanding geographical boundaries to their limits with his choice of the Royal Nepalese (2-14 Station Crescent, SE3 7EQ). Nearest station is Westcombe Park. Don’t you know that’s a couple of stops from Greenwich, Bill? See you there on Tuesday 9 November.

Mongoose outlets

Curry News

After stumbling across the new Mongoose beer (see review on October 15, 2010) in Cambridge, Wells & Young’s has sent a list of outlets that sell the beer in southeast and east London. This list includes two of the GCC’s favourites, the Moghul Tandoori (see review January 8, 2010 and February 17, 2010) and Memsaheb on Thames (see review on October 15, 2010) as well as the excellent Mala in St Katherine’s Dock. Time to try a beer methinks…

  • Mogul Tandoori, Greenwich, SE10 9BJ
  • Shard Indian Restaurant, Southwark, SE1 2TH
  • Coriander Restaurant, Kennington, SE11 5HY
  • Surma Curry House, East Dulwich, SE22 8HY
  • Memsaheb on Thames, E14 SUU
  • Bhangra Beat, South Woodford, E18 1NG
  • Mala, St Katherine’s Dock, E1W 1UH

New Indian beers

Curry News

Three cheers to anyone who produces beer that’s what I say. And an extra cheer to anyone who produces beer to go with Indian food. So cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer to the newest addition of ‘Indian’ beers in the UK – Mongoose.

It’s been out a while now but I’ve only just managed to find a pint of it.

Wells & Young’s (who used to make Cobra) launched the beer earlier this year to take on Cobra and Kingfisher in the Indian beer market. It won’t be lost on you that the mongoose and the cobra are well-known fighters. Cheeky name indeed.

A lager, Mongoose has got  a much smoother taste than its super crisp competitors so the beer will go particularly well with creamy dishes like Korma, Pasanda and, of course, the old favourite Chicken Tikka Masala.

Meanwhile, another new beer, Monsoon, brewed in Christchurch, New Zealand, is also set to enter the same market, the excellent Curry Council in Manchester reports.

Eating on the dock of the bay

1. Reviews (London)

Memsaheb on Thames, Docklands

Let’s be honest, the walk from Crossharbour Station to the river is unlikely to feature in ‘Beautiful Walks of London Volume I’. And the fly tipper who happily reversed down the alleyway and dumped his rubbish in front of us without a care in the world has hardly helped.

But there, right on the Thames is a gem of an Indian, with comfortable decor (love the big blue seats), friendly staff and good food. So good in fact that the Bangladeshi Caterers Association recently named the restaurant as one of its 11 regional winners in its annual Caterer of the Year Award. It was named as best restaurant in Greater London (East).

Ian declares he has cycled past many times and been meaning to try it out. Well, now you’re here, what are you going to order?

Tandoori Lamb Chops (£8.95) it is, sizzling away with tasty onions and green peppers. A plate of this lamb was devoured on a previous visit and it lives up to expectations again. Top notch.

 

Tandoori Lamb Chops

 

Meanwhile the newest (and our second French) member of the GCC plumps for a King Prawn Biryani (£10.95) although from the size of the prawns the king must be from a really small country. You know, one of those countries you can never remember the name of and is wedged in the mountains between two bigger countries.

But it’s a decent biryani and a welcome choice because it’s a dish that’s often overlooked in restaurants. I suppose because it’s rice based and because rice doesn’t have the sexiest of reputations it usually gets shoved out in favour of something hot or something tikka masala-ish.

I was converted to biryani years ago on a trip to Mumbai, when just hours after landing and while still coming to terms with the time difference, tiredness and the attack on the senses that is India, our host brought out a huge biryani. It was three in the morning and it was one of the best things I had ever tasted.

The key to a good biryani is when you know all the different tastes from the rice, the vegetables, meat and spices have been fused together in the cooking process. Too many restaurants, for speed, seem to just mix the ingredients together at the end. But the Biryani Inspectors will get them in the end.

And hang on, is that broccoli (£3.25) on the table again? Only last month we were surprised to see it on a menu and here it is again. Have the chefs just discovered it or haven’t I been paying attention at the back of class?

The Crab Puri (£4.50) and Tuna Kebab (£4.50), the latter served as plump fish cakes, were interesting and unusual starters, while the Garlic Chilli Chicken (£7.95) is a must for garlic lovers.

Sadly the Kitchen Curry, which is something the chef cooks for the staff and is ‘usually hot’ was sold out. But that’s fine as it gives us an excuse to come again.

Memsaheb, 65-67 Amsterdam Road, Docklands, E14 3UU. Tel: 020 7538 3008.

Memsaheb snapshot

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Memsaheb on Thames on Urbanspoon

Meeting (October 2010)

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Hold on, passports at the ready… GCC boldly goes, er, a couple of stops on the DLR. Still, at least this month’s meeting place isn’t an SE postcode. Get a taste of  Memsaheb (65-67, Amsterdam Road, E14 SUU) at 8pm, Wednesday 13 October. Warm-up in The George by Crossharbour Station. Oh dear, I forgot my visa.