You never forget your first time. Mine was in May 1991. My debut on the curry scene was at the tender age of 8 in a proper old school, albeit posh at the time, curry house called Passage to India 2. I chose a very exciting dish called Chicken Korma and felt oh so grown up, not envying my contemporaries having to dine on something disgusting called a Happy Meal. The restaurant had booths, colourful rice, crystal glasses and Mum got given a carnation on the way out! Fast forward 22 years and it was time to head back to the place where it all began, Vindaloo Queen's Cavern Club if you will.
The restaurant is now called Millon Tandoori, it still bears a lot of the features of the original Passage to India but sadly, the booths have been stripped of most of their privacy and the carnations have gone. The food and drinks are served on bog standard tableware now but I'll try and not let it detract from the curry too much!
First impressions of Millon? Faded glory. The once posh décor looked a bit like 1990s period features now, but a bit of rough always means plenty of atmosphere for me. I was sad to notice its 2 USPs now absent, the carnation for the lady and the booths, no matter how twee that sounds, they were part of the character for me. I was greeted warmly by the staff, none of the brusqueness that its closest Indian neighbour Sekander's has. Now, I know it's only a minor point, but there was a vase with a dead carnation in on my table. If you're going to push the boat out and have some table décor, then make sure the flowers are full of life and not as limp as a Curry Mile popadom. The lack of effort in putting fresh flowers on your table could cast doubts upon the freshness of your food....
To start, I had popadoms as this time, I was determined to eat dessert. The pops came with 5 dips- the usual 4 plus one that tasted like watery strawberry jam!
No qualms whatsoever with the chutney tray quality, although I wasn't sure what to do with the strawberry jam. Maybe it was a practical joke, a bit like when I was an air hostess and we'd send newbies for a long stand. Who knows.
The main course was Vegetable Madras with the usual accompaniments of pilau and naan. This time, I had a craving for okra so took a side order of bindi bhaji. The curries were generously proportioned, albeit a little greasy. My madras had an excellent selection of fresh veg, including okra, potato, carrot, aubergine and peas. not a tinned or frozen 99p Farmfoods square carrot in sight. The naan was huge, fresh and fluffy. The bindi bhaji was a lovely healthy accompaniment with my curry, the okra just the right consistency and not slimy like in some restaurants. However, had I had known my curry contained okra, I mightn't have bothered and opted for an aloo gobi instead.
After that delicious feast, I simply had to have kulfi. At a bargainous £1.95, I pushed the boat out and had a mango one. Delish.
Millon's may not be the opulent eaterie it was 15 years ago, but at least they have kept their prices affordable and the staff friendly. While it won't win any good curry awards, it won't disappoint either and has something to please everyone. A reliable, good old fashioned curry house which is a breath of fresh air in today's pretentious times.
Plus points- friendly staff and generous portions
Minus points- flat coke and the dead carnation on my table