One of the spots I stay at in London is The Buxton. Great little spot, less than £200 a night, good bar, roof terrace, nice rooms with breakfast thrown in. It’s in Whitechapel, on Brick Lane in all but name, close enough for the bagels, with a brisk walk either way for Tayer or Satans Whiskers followed by a cab back from either Tayer or Satans Whiskers.

There is a Punjabi restaurant around the corner. You know its name; it’s called Tayyabs. They opened in the seventies. Famous people go there. Regular folk go there. Birmingham bloggers who sit between those categories now go there. We spoke about going loads, always missing the likes of Idris Elba, Pedro Pascal or some rapper by choosing elsewhere. It’s a cult. That cult should stop reading here.

We turn up – with prior warning – half an hour early, leaving two courses later a full three minutes after we were due to eat. Sauces are on the table waiting for you, sat in huge pots with skins formed on the surface, and then, as you sit, the poppadoms arrive immediately as another member of the team lobs a bottle opener from across the room. Menus are dashed with the nonchalance of someone tossing coins at a busker, with staff reappearing seconds later to take your order. Ninety-seconds pass before the first arrives, quickly followed by breads and rice for the mains. A second starter appears, wielded to the plate it’s still cooking on. We eat the first, a good paneer tikka in a faintly meaty marinade. The mains arrive, presumably to allow the sheekh starter to still cook. They are mostly dismal. A chicken tikka that’s not tikka, sat in a puddle of oil and onion slush. The spice is crude and not cooked out. The slightly stale naan rehydrates in the grease. I push the chicken to one side. The sheekh is just about ready to eat. It’s okay.

Slightly better is the dhaal with baby aubergines so full of seeds I expect they arrived in the kitchen when the restaurant opened in 1972 (Sophie’s comment, not mine. She should really write a food blog if only to add some glam to the present horror show). She eats most of it whilst the bill is dropped on the table. £40, or £1.21 a minute. As we leave we pass two suited blokes arriving with three bottles of wine. I can’t help but admire the ambition given we managed one bottle of cider between the two. The rest of the booze can wait for the hotel, along with the toilet breaks and any form of digestion.


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