Just reporting for duty, a little late, on an excellent evening with Jonathan at Guglee, West End Lane’s newest curry house.
Owners Sachin and Nikhil had kindly offered us a meal in order to test out the menu, which was particularly interesting for me as I’d not yet visited their Finchley Road branch.
We got off to a great start with a mixed grill platter. The meats were cooked and spiced with flair and skill, and I would have happily eaten these as a main meal with rice and naan. I’m fond of this type of thing; I prefer leaner, slightly drier cuts than, for example, French cuisine, where “the glory is in the fat” – as more than one big-name chef has put it. Not to knock classic cooking of course, but it’s a nice feeling to be eating wonderful food that’s healthy too.
As for wine – something a little different – an Indian Shiraz. This was good stuff, with spice to match the food, but perhaps rounder and mellower than your average New World version. It also had something in particular which I just couldn’t place. You’d think drinking wine all the time for years on end would result in a more advanced palate; in my case it’s just eroded my memory cells and made me shake violently in terror whenever my wine rack’s empty.
Main meals arrived looking proud and a touch regal, and I was extremely happy to see a seafood dish present, not only because I love this type of food, but also as I’m always keen to see how curry establishments handle such things. Guglee clearly takes prawns etc. seriously, and this was another flavoursome, gutsy dish. It had an earthiness to it and was just all-round pleasing and delicious.
The “Railway Lamb” was brilliant; tender and rich, with various dimensions. When you head out for a curry, you anticipate interesting, bold flavours, and decent portions. Some of the new, modern curry houses have become a little twee and delicate for me; Guglee gets the balance right though; you won’t go home hungry, and you’ll be remembering the flavours and textures.
Also warranting a mention is the aubergine side dish – a tangy, yoghurt base, and appetising in colour; also the sophisticated, thin naan bread, and of course the fragrant rice.
It was a pleasure to chat with the enthusiastic staff and learn more about their menu and vision, and I’m looking forward to a return visit and more intriguing, spicy food – and further depletion of brain cells via that warm and friendly Shiraz. (March 2012)