Throughout life I've so far mostly ignored the many well intentioned warnings about peaking too early; hence why I was always a sprinter not a cross-country-er (that, and a complete lack of endurance and stamina). But I do fear that giving my best joke up to the title of this post can mean only an anticlimax. The one secret weapon I do have, however, is Grandad. And like babies and fluffy kittens, everyone loves old people; unless they are ahead of you, in the queue at the supermarket, on your lunch break....
At the ripe old age of 88 Grandad shows little signs of losing his sense of humour and spirit of adventure, meaning he was the ideal person to accompany us to North Harrow's Mr Chilly for a Saturday night curry. Possibly a little too enthusiastic as he and the Ewing ploughed their way through the plate of poppadoms like hungry locusts as I was distracted with ordering the food and snapping a few (pretty bad) pics on my phone.
Sadly he didn't make any inroads on my drink which was advertised as 'Fresh Passion' but didn't float my boat, having the strange sweet and salty flavour that reminded me of the electrolyte drinks you get given when ill (or, more likely, hungover).
Dishes feature fairly typical Pakistani fare - grilled lamb chops, kebabs and 'turbo' wings to start with grilled paneer, pakoras and mogo chips for the veggies, followed by the familiar role call of breads, rice and curries, although ingredients such methi (fenugreek leaves), burjee (scrambled eggs), haleem (wheat, meat and lentil stew), and paya (braised feet) give things a both a more homely and more exotic twist compared the Bombay Palace identikits found on most high streets.
We shared a selection of mains including a beautifully tender and fragrant spring lamb spiked with fresh ginger, a decent bhindi bhaji (fast becoming my favourite vegetable side dish) and a, slightly dry, jeera chicken with huge amonts of smoky roasted cumin seeds. Vegetable biryani appeared in what looked like a glass butter dish, but was no worse for that while garlic naans, like the spicy poppadoms, seemed to be very popular across the table, although the crusts I managed to snaffle were very good.
Standout was probably the prawn karahi, which featured a subtle onion and tomato based sauce with a decent lick of coriander and garlic in the background that came studded with about a dozen impossibly large and sweet crustaceans.
There's a definite utilitarian vibe about the place; sauces - one white and one red - come in squeezy bottles, the plates look like something from you Nan's wedding service and the decor is fairly sparse (one of the few pictures actually fell off the wall while we were there), but it has an endearing charm and friendly staff who all dutifully laughed at Grandad's jokes. The food was freshly prepared and with enough distinctive spicing to make each dish stand out; and at £10 a head for a huge amount of food (including a couple of the most expensive dishes on the menu) the bill was pleasingly small.
Of course, despite my not being very good at building to a climax, there always has to be a little anticipation and this time I really have saved the best until last. My two favourites, and that elusive garlic naan.