Friday 5th August 2016.
Let me tell you, when Big Daddy sends up his e-cig smoke clouds signalling a curry night you know for sure there’ll be a rag-tag bunch of braves in bath towels giving it the Red Indian war cry somewhere in the Sheffield district…
It’s fast becoming a familiar trudge via the derelict backwaters of S1 to The Harlequin; emerging out of the scrubland like discarded extras from the set of Deliverance. Happily, a welcome range of ales slake and stimulate, and the menfolk, before long, hooting from their foam moustaches about the price of a haircut, giddy-goat with gusto.
You sort of magic carpet round the corner to Mangla from there. Or you don’t really remember. Two-pint take outs prized like genie lamps grant most a man could wish for in the Spital Hill gloaming; breaching the threshold of the culinary Treasure house, a troop of fly-by-night Ali Babas.
It was something of a hotch-potch table assortment pushed together to form our seating for eight. Andy and Tracy, for instance, scraping their dinner off the ceiling tiles while I shined Andy’s boots with my prawn puree polish and duster. It was otherwise a decent spot in front of the open kitchen; though bustling with passing waiters it felt a curiously private space. Clean and functional rather than Raj or Bollywood, the decor’s not making a statement. Less forgivable, the absence of Mother India’s desi dulcets…
The substandard service at Mangla is comic legend of course: the fistful of cutlery carelessly strewn mid-table still a feature, but overall, service was much improved. Just that order of lime pickle and chutney, augmenting the complimentary dips – my Paddington stare and verbal encouragement not much accelerating matters.
It’s principally in the food department where Mangla excels. Their prawn bhuna on puree the best I’ve tasted anywhere, and the lamb madras, again, as good as that dish gets. Be advised though, there’s a tendency to pimp the chilli quotient here so a madras can burn like a lesser joint’s vindaloo – rampant with flavour all the same. The lamb bhuna and lamb rogan josh garnered special mention, only the lamb baruchi disappointed – Silky preferring Butler’s saucier version. And while the breads were consistently excellent, the onion bhajis were more like stale economy burgers retrieved from Les Battersby’s corduroy recliner.
All told, a time-warped 12 notes each. Expected a gurneying Bobby Knutt in short-trousers mithering for his mother. I couldn’t believe it – a band of clamouring bum-pinchers offered a reality check… Made a dash for it – returned Sunday for the pic. Racing Post down my longjohns.
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles