Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Hit the North - Cafe Salma, Glasgow

Location
523 Sauchiehall Street,

Glasgow,

G3 7PQ,
United Kingdom
Tel: 0141 221 7636

Time
Saturday 22nd October 2011 (Evening)
Attendees
Juanita, Ben and John
Watering Hole(s)
A little pub crawl was achieved prior to visiting Café Salma. 
First off we visited Brel on Ashton Lane.  This is Glasgow’s (only?) Belgium themed bar, is located on a super trendy pedestrian only cobbled street that is Ashton Lane, and sells a good selection of Belgium's finest.  This establishment was chosen not only for our love of Belgian Beer but also due to our bicycle team we race for – Team Here Come the Belgians.  The new Duvel Green was splendid – a paler and a lot more refreshing tipple than other Duvel colour’s I’ve had in the past.  This was followed by my favourite - Kwak, which was disappointingly not served in the usual glass, even though it was stood at the back of the bar?  The smell of Moules Mariniere, and frites with mayo wafting through the bar was almost enough for me to loose my curry focus, but I did manage to resist temptation, and concentrate on the matter in hand.
Ben and Juanita enjoy the window seat at Cafe Salma
Next was Oran Moor, at the top Byers Road, followed by the Griffin on Bath Street.  Only Normal Lager and Guinness were consumed at these locations.  However, we were racing the following day, so wanted to try and remain fairly restrained.
Expectations
New BCC T-Shirt
I had become increasingly aware of Café Salma through reading Curry-Heute, and recent consultation with Hector had flagged the café as a defo must do, especially if staying north of the river.  However, concerns had been raised by the Glasgow branch of the Bradford Curry Club that they thought Café Salma was more Moroccan than Indian?  However, Perusal of the website did show both Moroccan and Indian menus.  In addition, the likes of pizza and burgers were also offered, and made us think more ‘fast food takeaway’ rather than ‘curry house’.  However, as seen recently in Bradford, the move towards more varied menus is becoming more popular, and is no more the sole domain of the takeaway.

The Reality
Open kitchen at Cafe Salma
Café Salma is definitely more Curry House, with, I understand, a Moroccan café downstairs, and is smallish and informal.  Like a lot of places I’ve visited in Glasgow, there is an open kitchen to one side.
The restaurant was about half full when we arrived, and with a very friendly welcome, we were sat at a window table.  We were presented with poppadoms and pickles, and water, along with both Indian and Moroccan menus.  Suffice to say this was a curry eating mission, and, alas, the poor old Moroccan menu didn’t really get a look in.  On another night may be?
Sheekh Kebab
Sheekh Kebab was my starter.  Even amongst some interesting sounding pakora options, I couldn't resist the Sheekh Kebab.  I’m glad I did, as it was delicious, and enough of the pickle tray remained to allow dippage.
My main was the recommended Lamb Lahori Karahi, and it was also very very good.  The pale(ish) coloured curry smacked of fresh ingredients, and had a rich, full taste.  I found it also nice and garlicy with large chunks of lamb residing.   Although, to be brutally honest, my first impressions were that perhaps the dish looked a little ‘retro’ - however, there were no qualms once the first mouthful went in.
Nothing to say about the Garlic and Coriander Naan other than you need to go a sample it, end of.  It was simply wonderful.
Drinks Policy and range
No alcohol served and didn’t ask about any BYO policy.  We drank water and soft drinks with our meal, and they seemed perfectly fitting.
Highlights
I enjoyed every aspect of my meal thoroughly, but if I have to choose one thing, I felt the Garlic and Coriander naan sneaked in to the Top Draw honors list.  General ambiance and service were also good.
Garlic and Coriander Naan
Lowlights
Eeerrr??  Nope, there were non to speak of.
The Damage
The bill came to about £17/person.  Without drinks, this is not what I would call cheap, but, considering the quality of the food, and service, it definitely falls into the more important VFM category.
Aftermath
'An Hour in Hell' - Perfect for a Sunday Morning???
We headed home for an early night after the meal.  A bit ‘peeky’ the following morning, but this may have more to do with one or two too many beers and my body entering panic mode as the ‘Hour in Hell’ fast approached!!
Overall
I will definitely revisit this little gem.  Thanks to Hector for the heads up.