Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Props for the chops - New Tayyabs and Lahore - July 2012

  Mention Brick Lane to most Londoners and you'll get a variety of references to grubbily ubiquitous East End hipsters selling secondhand tat, a mention of the various markets and boutiques that dot the area and a bewildering level of advice about the curry houses, dive bars and beigel bakeries that glitter the forcibly pedestrianised length. I, reader, am no different, and certainly more opinionated than most.

There last weekend were the Manchester constabulary, covering no doubt for our boys in blue now seconded to vital duties protecting the brand positioning of Coke, Maccy D's and the rest of them over at the Olympic Park. Watching a couple of them eying up the menu at one of the curry cabins lining the narrow road, I was tempted to guide them due south of Curry Mile, toward two of the better places to eat round there.

Tayyabs is the older, smaller and more feted. In comparison, nearby Lahore Kebab House is a barn of a place. Both have queues, though the two floors mean you'll find it easier to get into Lahore. Like the two teams in Manchester, they've both got their fanatical cheerleaders with a tribal love for one over the other and they're both full of people who have travelled miles to worship. 

Neither take reservations (except for very large groups) and both are BYOB which cuts the not excessive cost still further. Most importantly, neither is somewhere you'd take a vegetarian date for a quiet romantic night. You're coming to here to praise the gods of Pakistani grills and eat expertly cooked meat until you fall into a sweaty masala scented coma.

I used to work with a bloke whose uncle ran one of the busy tourist traps on the main lane. When we went, we were treated like kings by his family and force-fed free curry till we couldn't cope. And despite this, we always went to Tayyabs or Lahore. Not only so he could have a cheeky beer, but because he couldn't tell his folks that they'd been out grilled, and oh how they had.

Both seriously specialise in their soft and savoury meats, served without ceremony, blisteringly hot from the grill. I've never held much truck with the other menu items. If I'm there it's for the lamb chops. Dry rubbed with a garam masala, lemon and chilli blend, thrown through the furnace of the tandoor and on your plate a minute later. 5 chops for £7 or so and the food of kings. It's hard to look sexy as you suck the plump pink flesh from the charred bone but it's an almost erotic dining experience. Soaking up any juice with warm and buttery naan from the same oven, meat eaters will be in heaven.

From remembrance, Tayyabs does better at the other curries on the menu, on a recent visit to Lahore, my lamb pilau was tender but muted and neither have impressed me with their dhal. Expect brusque (at best) service, they've got a lot of people to get through after all, and worth repeating, don't go here with a vegetarian... If I had to choose, condemned to only go to one from here to eternity? I'd probably pick Lahore. The frenetic atmosphere is definitely a part of the experience at Tayyabs, but the chops are usually as good in either, and I can't bear to wait too long for that sweet, sweet spiced meat...

Lahore Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Tayyabs on Urbanspoon

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