GRANTHAM has got at least two award winning Indian restaurants, and another two that have been given five stars by the Journal’s reviewers.
So it’s only natural that I should decide to go for a curry . . . at the local Wetherspoons pub.
Thursday night is curry night at Wetherspoons pubs all the over the country, including Grantham’s own Tollemache Inn in St Peter’s Hill - in fact it’s proudly described as ‘the nation’s biggest curry house’.
And it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
My lamb chettinadu (no, I’ve never heard of that one either) cost £4.59, and that price included poppadums, mango chutney, naan bread, and (incredibly) a drink too.
My fellow diners were feeling extravagant, so opted for the luxury chicken tikka at £5.59.
It’s hard to fault it at the price (but fault it I will).
Remembering life before Wetherspoons is tricky for most of us. In fact, I think they must have been around since long before I was even old enough to go to the pub on my own.
Consequently the Wetherspoons formula of cheap drinks and cheap food is familiar to most of us.
The quality isn’t always there, but when the prices are so low it’s easy just to shrug and accept it.
Which brings us to the meal.
My chettinadu was inoffensive. That is to say it was edible, if not particularly memorable.
The rice was the same - acceptable, but nothing to write home about.
But it did the job, especially after a particularly hectic day of getting the Journal ready to go to press.
Unfortunately the competent and workman-like main course was let down by a poor performance from the side dishes.
I can think of a couple of people who say their favourite part of going for a curry is the poppadums.
I’d be interested to know if they thought that after a trip to Wetherspoons.
These seemed more like large potato crisps than the delicate items offered at restaurants the world over.
And the mango chutney served in a cardboard tub didn’t exactly evoke images of the Taj Mahal.
As for the naan bread - well . . . it was just inedible, a rock-hard slab that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the space shuttle’s heat shield.
‘But what do you expect for £4.59?’ I hear you cry.
I can hear what you’re saying, oh fair-minded reader, so that’s why I’ve introduced an extra grading system into this review, taking value as well as quality into account - just to offer a bit of clarity.
I’ll finish by saying this: if you want an expertly-cooked authentically Indian meal; if you want to give your order to a waiter rather than queue at the bar; if you want a spectacular selection of side orders and starters: go to one of Grantham’s many fantastic Indian restaurants.
But if it’s Thursday night, you just can’t be bothered to cook and you’ve got £4.59 on you, go to the Tollemache.
It is what it is.
Review by Bob Hart