17 Dalry Road, Edinburgh
Telephone: 0131-337 5828
Food: Ubiquitous Indian selection, with a better than
average emphasis on fish dishes, such as pungash, and boat,
flown in from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
Wine: Comprehensive range devised by Cockburns of Leith,
including good value French classics such as Crozes Hermitage
of some pedigree.
Ambience: Slightly weary stab at the last days of the
Raj, with languidly swirling ceiling fan, floating candles and
wooden-slatted venetian blinds along one
including wine and coffee
INDIAN restaurants come and go more frequently than the 33 bus.
So it takes a certain determination and staying power to gain a
permanent place in the hearts and minds of Edinburgh
curryholics. The Verandah, opened by Wali Udin in 1981, has
donejustthat. It may still be clinging stoically to the same
wooden venetian blinds, circling ceiling fan, rattan-backed
chairs and the, by now, somewhat jaded photographs of waiters
alongside Clint Eastwood, Jmran Khan and Cliff, but the
standard of food served is enduring. (A further judgment on
that is the fact there was only one table unoccupied.)
We settled down to a Bangladeshi banquet that started with
butterfly king prawns fried in butter and served with spices,
and mach kebab, which is diced haddock cooked with garlic,
ginger and coriander.
Next up, with a bottle of Crozes Hermitage 2000 Domaine de
Champs Morel close at hand, we plumped for mixed tandoori, and
methi gosht, with savoury side
portions of sag aloo,
keema mattar, some rice, a chapati or two and one dessert, the
ubiquitous gulab jamon. The last is home-made cottage cheese
balls deep-fried in syrup and served with cream (if our
dietician is reading this - yes, it is a cholesterol timebomb,
but needs must).
The gorgeouslyfresh mach came in a dark red tempura-style batter
that was feather-light, the fish falling apart on the fork, and the
prawns succulent and huge. Overcooked king prawns can swiftly
become cheugh, but here they were timed to perfection.
There is an expert hand at the tandoor too, with the mixed tandoori
selection holding chicken, lamb tikka kebab, sheek kebab, chicken
tikka and tandoori king prawn, all of it dripping with succulence,
the dark, red torpedo-shaped sheek particularly standing out with
an immense flavour-burst.
The mince lamb mattar dotted with green peas was also a texture
revelation, as was the methi gosht, fall-off-the-bone tender lamb
cooked to a sweetness in that wondrous herb fenugreek.
Endeavour to sample the Verandah nan. The time the tandoor-wallah
gives these unleavened loaves the size of snowshoes is critical and
the smoky, crispy result had.
Starters: Butterly king
prawns, £5.25; mach kebab haddock in batter,
Mains: Mixed tandoori grill, £13.95; methi
gosht lamb with fenugreek, £6.95; side dishes of
sag aloo, £2.95, and keema mattar, £2.95; rice,
Desserts: Gulab jamon, £1.75 Coffee:
Wine: Crozes Hermitage Domaine do Champs Morel,
exceptional flavour. In fact, so
delicious were they, we mentioned it to the manager, one Foysol
Choudhury, who confided through huge grins that one woman
customer makes the pilgrimage to Haymarket every Saturday for a
curry, but she has told them it is their nan she cannot live
The Verandah menu holds all the usual suspects such as pakora,
somosa, lamb pasanda and bhuna, pathia and dhansak. But explore
further and you will discover dishes such as gingery
murgh-e-ada, amer murgh (chicken cooked with mango pulp), kurma
badami made with curd cream, and palok gagor, which is fresh
spinach, carrots and cashew nuts in herbs and spices.
In fact, if you show enthusiasm for the menu, then genial
Choudhury, who works the tables like the consummate pro he is,
shows enthusiasm in return, even going as far as to offer us a
gratis plate of one of the dishes chef Laba makes for the staff
- a tangy, smoky, spicy sardines dish called sadin bhajee, with
a devilish creeping heat that tookthe throat unawares. Spiced
sardines? Believe it.
With more medals and awards to its name than Field Marshal
Gaddafi, the Verandah thrives on consistency on the plate. And
it takes its wine list extremely seriously too.
There is a huge range of liqueurs and spirits arrayed on the
gantry, from mescal
to Royal Mint liqueur, Glayva to Tia Maria and even a bottle of
Campari on an optic, which must say something about the place,
if only to underline its colonial allusions.
Whatever you do, don't mention the Jambos - Choudhury is
Hearts-daft and at the drop of a hat can give regulars a
15-minute dissertation on the subject. Without drawing