CURRYBOND #24 Afghan Palace + Spectre
The Curry Leg
It's here. The final CURRYBOND.
We made it...but, there is one final chance for the 24th curry restaurant in Tooting to tantalise our tastebuds and make it's mark on the CURRYBOND leaderboard.
Our final outing takes us to familiar surroundings...whilst this will be 24 different curry restaurants it will be only be 23 different addresses as unfortunately our venue for CURRYBOND #2 Rayyan's didn’t last the year and has risen from the ashes like a curried phoenix as Afghan Palace.
As we arrive we're welcomed by a bold new sign with a nice warming neon glow. Inside it's pretty familiar...same chairs, same tables, same hot pink walls but now with an added lime green feature wall. It's not subtle, but hey, it's a curry place!
Venue Score - 5.9/10
We've got a good turnout of core CURRYBONDers and take our seats on what we come to realise is in fact the exact same table as in CURRYBOND #2! Perfect control conditions for an unbiased comparison. The menus are of the laminated variety and provide a rundown of the Afghan fare of offer. This being our third outing to Afghanistan for dinner, we're pretty familiar with the curry-by-the-kilo. What did jump out however was a rather pricey item, coming in at £160 you can apparently order a Whole Lamb Sajji which must be a serious commitment, one we toyed with but decided an entire lamb divded by 7 CURRYBONDers probably didn’t result in a happy outcome…
As with our other Afghan experiences the menu tends to encourage a collaborative dining experience, so we plump for a sharing platter of grilled things to start which arrived suitably sizzling away. Included on our mound of meats were Chicken Wings, Lamb chops, Chicken Tikka, Sheesh Kebabs on a bed of grilled onions. The results are what you expect from a plate of grilled meats, nicely charred and smokey but they lacked the expected spice kick. The kebab certainly packed more of a punch but the lamb chops were pretty dry. Not a bad start but not blowing anyone away.
We decided to share the mains aswell in which I ordered enough stuff that we recognise as well as some other more interesting sounding dishes that required a quick google to make sure we weren't going too far off-piste. We lined up a good 1/2 kilo of Chicken Karahi, Wreta (turned out be just Lamb Tikka…),Chicken Deghi Boneless (which apparently just means slow cooked, so was essentially a plate of spicy chicken stew) and Dampukht (a hunk of lamb on the bone in a kind of light gravy). To accompany the feast we decided to go rice-less, a bold choice you might think, but we knew something about the naan…
That's right, Uber Naan! Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Tandoor, this beast emerges making full use of the steel naan tree restraining this wild piece of flat bread from enveloping any and all curry that comes its way.
The curry which accompanied Naan-Zilla, was all very tasty. The more conventional rich buttery Chicken Karahi went down well, though there was some grumbling about the meat being left on the bone. The Deghi boneless, was very much like a chicken stew but left on a cold plate dropped in temperature pretty rapidly and was referred to as "can you pass the cold one"...The Dampukht was a very tender hunk of lamb which again was flavourfull but didn’t have much of a curry hit. Perhaps drifting into Afghanistan we should have expected to leave some of the chillis on the way.
Food Score - 6.7/10.
One obvious change to it's previous incarnation is the decision to drop the alcohol, so not even a BYOB is available, which we're getting used to after a run of four dry Curry Legs. We have however become quite the Lassie connoisseurs, this particular example was quite middle of the road, which is a fare reflection of the outing. The bill comes in with a slightly unhelpful itemisation, at £71.50 so a very reasonable £10.21/CURRYBONDer.
Value Score - 8.4/10.
Our final curry therefore is a familiar tale or garish surroundings, good and affordable curry with at least one distinguishing feature…the biggest naan in Tooting!
Overall Score - 6.9/10.
The Bond leg
Spectre. The final instalment of the Bond franchise (so far…). The latest and perhaps last outing of the Danny Craig era?
The much talked about cold open kicks things off in Mexico in the traditional Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City...well not actually, it was invented for the film but in life imitating art was copied this year by the local government to encourage all those Bond tourists. The parade on screen is pretty impressive with Bond sporting a classy white skull mask and escorting some hot biddy around town .
Soon enough things kick off and Bond is off chasing some bad guy through the crowds. We get a very on-trend long single shot scene that follows James around the rooftops. It's no West Wing walk-and-talk but it's impressive none-the-less. James soon finds himself having a punch up in a chopper which proceeds to demonstrate that flying upside down in a helicopter is totally fine...hairy stuff.
Back in Blighty and our new M is firmly ensconced in his new guise as the constant gardening Lord of Darkness Ralph Nathaniel Twistelton-Wykeham-Fiennes...yes that's his actual name. I love to see good 'ole working class lad done good...
Needless to say he's not best pleased with Bond blowing up half of Mexico and inventing a whole parade just to help his cover story. Bond is grounded, Bond promptly leaves to go do his own thing, same old...Fortunately we get a cameo of The Dench from beyond the grave who sets up Bond for his mission with a pre-recorded tape...if it was that important I feel she maybe should have told him before one day getting shot by Javier Bardem. Oh Bond also meets mega slimey Civil Servant "C" short for...Civil Servant presumably...who wants to start a super spying network of data and drones and cyber things and all that stupid modern crap that you cant shoot in the face or slap on the bum. Bond isn't impressed, and clearly makes a mental note to drop him off something high first chance he gets.
We then get the second outing of Q_v3 from the oh so young and foppish Ben Whishaw who actually has some gadgets on offer this time. There's a watch which does something and a car, a genuine Bond car. Austin Martin DB10 ooo nice! But it's not for James...who makes a mental note to steal the car first chance he gets…
Bond jets off on his secret mission and after a very brief seduction of Monica Belucci ends up at a Spectre AGM. Oh look there's Christophe Waltz doing his Christophe Waltz thing this is all quite intriguing. Our henchman makes a suitably violent entrance by squeezing a man's eyes into his head, ouch. Though one shouldn’t be fooled by the burly character masquerading as an actor, like The Rock before him, it seems Batista, king of the Batista Bomb, left his spandex at home this time.
As I was saying things are all quite exciting, the "mysterious" bad guy turns things upside down once he reveals Bond to his other delegates and we get an excellent chase sequence through the streets of Rome.
Things then take a bit of a turn for the boring. Turns out Christophe Waltz is Franz Oberhauser who was apparently Bond's childhood buddy after his parents adopted little James when his parents died...ok. The hour or so sees Bond in full on Quincy mode running around finding clues, picking up a fairly non-descript Bond girl and agreeing to "look after" her for her dying Dad, Mr. White. Sticking with the tradition of many an average Bond film the middle third is pretty soporific and memories of dozing off in the cinema come flooding back...when I wake up.
Skip forward to our finale then and Bond, with Bond Girl in tow, wander in to our villains lair, excellent spy skills as always.
Bond is promptly captured and trapped to a chair with a very spikey needle very close to his face…Christophe proceeds to reveal he's changed his name to….Ernst Stavro Savalis...I mean Blofeld. O M G! Yes shock horror, the film called Spectre has Blofeld back as the bad guy. Bond does his Bond thing and escapes simultaneously blowing up the lair with his good old buddy BloBlo inside...I hope he's ok…
Bond returns home and is quickly captured again...I mean seriously James, just check over your shoulder once or twice. Fortunately he's got Voldemort with him this time and Expeliarmus! They're free. James tracks down Blofeld in the still blown up MI6, Lambeth Council need to get their finger out. Turns out Ernie Blofeld didn’t quite make it out of the giant explosion unscathed, now sporting the characteristic Blofeld scar down his face.
In Batman-esque fashion Bond now has to track down his damsel in distress who is tied to a bomb. No probs for Jimmy who grabs the girl and dives for freedom from the exploding building. Time for one last hurrah, Bond shoots down a helicopter with a pistol...Blofeld survives (he is good at surviving explosions!), and is promptly apprehended by the old Bill, job done. All of which takes place about 50m from my office so spotting the front door in the chase scene maintains my interest to get me though the somewhat formulaic denouement.
All in all then, Spectre feels like a 4th Bond film in a run. Things are starting to get a bit stale, it doesn’t quite have the same cutting edge as the beginning and it doesn’t seem sure whether to tread back into the girls, gadgets and eye brow raising or stick with the smashing people heads through concrete, Bond style. There are still some high points but overall we're left underwhelmed.
Girls n Gadgets - 6.4/10
Cheese - 2.7/10
Action - 7.9/10
Overall - 7.9/10
CURRYBOND will return in...oh no...wait...it won't!
...or will it...