14 April 2010

Discoveries In Borough

I love London. I love its bustle, its architecture, its theatres, its museums, its parks and its surprises. And I find that the best way to discover and enjoy these is simply by walking along new streets just because they are new or because a friend drags you there. And this is how I came to be wandering around Borough.

Borough, like a lot of London, lives up to the curate's egg maxim of being good in parts and many after work revellers can be found in the fashionable pubs around Borough Market and along the Thames.

And so it was that I started my exploration at The George with a couple of refreshing pints of their eponymous bitter. The large courtyard area was packed by the dark low-roofed front room (with no bar) was fairly empty so we settled in there to start our inevitable conversation on politics.

The next pub we went to might have been The Blue Eyed Maid. Or it might not. It was that unremarkable in every way. Limited choice of expensive beer too.

Our final port of call prior to food was the Royal Oak in Tabard Street. This has the enviable distinction of being a Harveys pub and the Sussex Bitter did all that you could ask of it. The pub is small, woody and folksy, a welcome far cry from the anonymous warehouses that many pubs have become. We could easily have lingered longer if not for the familiar siren call from the curry house across the street.

Simply Indian is a little gem. It is one of the smallest restaurants that I have ever been too and also one of the most fun.

It's busy but turnover is high so we did have to wait long for a hastily refreshed table and to get stuck in to the papadoms (it was quite late my then!). There were some interesting pickles too and this raised our hopes for the evening.

We shared starters and mains between us and chose a variety of vegetarian dishes that were unknown to us by name but we could guess at the flavours from the helpful list of ingredients. They were all good or better. The textures and flavours were rich and varied with just enough spice to make in interesting. Think of the familiar Indian/English curries, like a madras, where flavours are sacrificed for heat and volume, and this is just the opposite. Delightful.

We had just a naan and a lassi with it (the restaurant is unlicensed) and that helped to protect the flavours and to get the quantities right. The portions were not large but they were comfortably sufficient.

Simply Indian is a little out of the way but it is a way that I shall make the effort to go out of again. And I'll also go to the Royal Oak when I do.

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