It’s damn near impossible to make it to the end of Bethnal Green Road without stopping for a snack. Even the fried chicken shops sell curries and shish kebabs, and the smell is so delicious I usually succumb just before Brick Lane. Having said that, I am yet to try Gourmet San, the Szechuan restaurant that turned down an Observer review saying, ‘No thanks. We don’t need any extra custom. Almost all our clientele are Chinese, and they don’t read the Observer.’ Here’s the review anyway….. it’s definitely high on my to-eat list, although the stuff they ordered – pigs’ trotters, sliced beef tongue and tripe – sounded slightly intimidating to my tame Western palate.
So this time I almost made it to Brick Lane before being halted in my tracks by a five-quid thali deal at Maida (also reviewed by the Observer). The service was friendly – they brought me tap water without being asked, and the food was good for a quick lunch – two small silver pots of vegetarian curry, some yogurt, dhal, pita, rice and chutney. Apparently it’s got lamb chops to rival Tayyabs, but we’ve been hearing this for a while now, haven’t we?
Anyway, what really intrigued me was the view from my table, of four windows hung with greying lace curtains, a few red-geraniums on the ledge and no view of what or who was within. It didn’t look abandoned, but it did look strangely out of time, and I’m still wondering about it.