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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.
 
Spectre scores
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...

 

CURRYBOND #23 Saravanaa Bhavan + Skyfall

The Curry Leg

22 curry restaurants down. You would think we've seen it all. But hot on the heels of our first CURRYBOND buffet comes our first all vegetarian curry place, Saravanaa Bhavan. Somewhat delayed in the CURRYBOND running order after some mild trepidation about an evening without both beer and meat. However, it's time has come, and we've come prepared with our very own CURRYBOND (almost) vegetarian, Di to raise the spirits of the meat loving die hards amongst us.

Saravanaa Bhavan, is nestled nicely among the classics of the CURRYBOND corridor on Tooting High Street. Adorned with a white and red neon sign that certainly draws the eye, as well as an impressive list of other countries you can find similar fare, from USA to UAE, Kuwait to Qatar. Inside, it's fairly standard low key furnishings with bright lights and metal trays overflowing with veggie curry goodness. It's busy when we arrive and busy when we leave maintaining a nice hum of atmosphere throughout.

Venue Score - 7.5/10.

We've got a solid turnout this time with most of the CURRYBOND regulars back on board. The menu is extensive and somewhat overwhelming...The inevitable curry greed kicks in and we proceed to order far too much food starting with some tasty sounding starters, Devilled Potato, Samosa, Chana Batura, Cocktail Idl, Masala Dosa, Paneer 65 and Onion Bhajis.

Everything emerges extremely promptly but nonetheless everything tastes fresh straight out of the kitchen. The Chana Batura is spiced chickpeas accompanied by a mega puri which could have enveloped a small child! The cocktail Idls come first after a recommendation from our waiter and are excellent bite sized crunchy balls with a variety of chutneys to dip along with. My dosa is suitably giant, crispy and filled with tasty veg masala goodness. A lovely start then, for the most part...One of the lessons learnt from the curry journey has been South India is certainly not the home of the onion bhaji...Bhaji Score 2/10.

It's not long before our mains emerge, in fact the prompt delivery starts to cause us some serious table space issues with metal trays quickly stacking up. After some stacking logistics we tuck to the main attractions. Mushroom Rogan Josh, Paneer Jalfrezi, Vegetable Butter Masala, Vegetable Jalfrezi and a full Indian meal presented in a lovely Thali tray with individual pots of intrigue. It is without exception, delicious. South India is clearly veggie Valhalla. The curries are deep, creamy and moorish, the rice is light, fluffy and fragrant and the breads and warm and crisp. My set meal gives me soup, curry, pickles, chutneys, rice, bread and then sweets! Our only regret is finishing most of the starters leaving limited capacity for the main courses.

Food Score - 8.5/10.

With piles of curry trays and an embarrassing amount of leftovers we call for the bill. Without meat or alcohol to jack up the price we get a solid valued bill of £94.60 which comes in at £15.76/CURRYBONDer.

Value Score - 7.7/10.

So, just when you thought you've done it all, Tooting pops up with yet another curry gem. If veggie's your thing, look no further than Saravanaa Bhavan, which makes a late dart for the top of the CURRYBOND leaderboard. If we'd had a few less CURRYBOND carnivores it might have just made it...

Overall - 8.4/10

 

The Bond Leg

To the Bond leg we come. This time, Skyfall. I've decided to keep this particular run down quite brief. I could pretend its a post-modern reaction to the increasingly over-long modern cinema experience typified by the 150+ mins spent watching Daniel Craig's latest offering...in reality it's Monday evening, CURRYBOND 24 is tomorrow, I've written 22 of these things this year and I'm a lazy f****r.

Skyfall I think is set apart from every other Bond in that M, played by The Dench, takes centre stage as people keep trying to blow her up or shoot her in the head! No wonder she went to do that Exotic Marigold thing...Yes, it seems M's past is coming back to bite her, specifically mega-creepy bad guy Silva, played by the all conquering Javier Bardem.

So to summarise.

Bond drives a digger on a train...it's awesome!

Bond dies...again, bummer.

Voldemort turns up.

Bond comes back to life...again.

There's a new Q, and he sucks. He has no gadgets and proceeds to infect the whole MI6 IT system by plugging in a dodgy laptop.

The dastardly plan is then revealed to us which on first viewing you just nod along to as the action is so frickin' exciting but on second viewing you realise the following.

  1. Bad guy Bardem blows up MI6 - because he wants MI6 to move underground He leaves enough breadcrumbs to be caught on purpose, starting with identifiable shrapnel in Bond's shoulder...
  2. He gets caught with his secret evil laptop He hopes stupid Q will plug his secret evil laptop into the MI6 network, which opens his cell...
  3. He escapes and in order to evade his inevitable pursuer, Bond, sets off a bomb which is perfectly timed for a tube train to plummet through a hole in the tunnel so he can continue his escape...
  4. All so he can put on a police costume and walk into a committee room to shoot M in the head?

Jesus! He's either really not had much to do on his abandoned island or this plot just got a bit silly...

Anyway back to it.

Bond and M then head to Bond's modest childhood home on the Scottish Borders...3 bed semi? Not quite...

Time for Home Alone meets Bond...

Clearly decided she's getting too old for this...

Despite the brevity, this is clearly one of the best Bond films, a late contender for the top of the leaderboard with more stunning action, a superb bad guy, interesting if a little far-fetched plot and a genuine booby trap montage...what more could you ask for?

Skyfall scores

Girls n Gadgets - 5.9/10

Cheese - 3.2/10

Action - 9.0/10

Overall - 8.4/10

 

With a delightful veggie feast followed by the re-emergence of the good side of the Craig series, our patience is rewarded with the best CURRYBOND so far with an overall score of 8.3/10.

CURRYBOND will return, for one last time, in Afghan Palace + Spectre.

CURRYBOND #22 Shahana + Quantum of Solace

The Curry Leg

The nights are drawing in. Those pesky Christmas ads are beginning to leak out of the TV, advent calendars with expiry dates before Christmas are on the shelves and CURRYBOND continues. With these glitzy baubles distracting our CURRYBONDers we're somewhat sparse for our 22nd outing of the year.

We make our way to our slightly delayed trip to Shahana, our curry leg venue. It's located in prime position on Tooting High Street and opposite the disappointments of our last mega CURRYBOND.

We're welcomed in and take a seat at a table for four, unfortunately we don't even fill that! On the plus side, we looking forward to being served before bedtime. Our venue rocks the cafeteria style with counter, metal tables and TV's on mute. The tables fill up enough to give a lively atmosphere, not bad for the canteen genre of restaurant.

Venue score - 6/10.

You would think after eating at 21 curry restaurants within 15 minutes walk of each other we're unlikely tofind anything new or surprising. Think again! It's time for a buffet! That's right for just £9.99 you can help yourself to an unlimited curry feast at Shahana. Two of us take up the challenge. Jobbers however is somewhat sceptical, and opts for some of the traditional curry fare still available from the menu.

The buffet offers starters, mains, sides and dessert. Naturally, we take the opportunity to try pretty much everything on offer. There are bhajis, samosas, chicken wings and kebabs along side popadoms and huge vats of chutneys to dish out. Everything is pretty tasty, the kebabs in particular and meaty and nicely spiced. The bhaji's are delicious, still crunchy enough and really moorish. Bhaji score 8/10. The samosas suffer from the typical buffet sog, and lack the fresh crunch you would hope for.

We make our way further down the buffet corridor and load up the mains. The variety is fairly limited with chicken and meat (we assume lamb) Karahis, a couple of Biryanis, Saag Aloo, Lahori Chana and Paya, which is helpfully translated as simply, trotters...we skip over the Paya... Jobbers goes for his ever faithful curry yardstick, Chicken Jalfrezi. The buffet is by-and-large, delicious. The curries are a little greasy but underneath the gee sits curry glee. They're deep in flavour, not too spicy and soaked up well by the variety of biryanis. Jobbers however is not so happy, his Jalfrezi arrives quickly...a bit too Uncle Ben's-microwaved-sauce quickly...It's exceedingly red and exceedingly sweet, not at all resembling the Jalfrezi Jobbers knows and loves. The lesson therefore holds true, if there's a thing a curry restaurant does, get that thing, not the other stuff, the other stuff is other stuff for a reason.

Food score - 6.7/10.

With the aid of limited attendance and a buffet, we wrap the curry leg up by 8pm. The bill comes in at £32.90 which make a pretty bagainous £10.97/CRRYBONDer. I should, add this is another dry venue, lassies and fizzy drinks were the drinks of choice.

Value Score - 7/10.

So an enjoyable, if intimate, curry leg was had by all. Our first CURRYBOND buffet was a success, and if you need a quick curry fix, Shahana is a great budget option.

Overall Score - 6.5/10.

 

The Bond Leg

Unsurprisingly we don't feel the need for an entire cinema so don't call on the Gorringe as our venue and make our way to CURRYBOND HQ to enjoy a whole sofa seat each!

Time for Daniel Craig Bond II, after the exciting reboot we get the difficult second album. Will it be ...Morning Glory or Second Coming, Modern Life is Rubbish or Room on Fire. The signs aren't great, let's begin with the title. Quantum of Solace. A quantum is a minimal amount of something physical. Solace is comfort or consolation in time of great distress. So a minimum amount of comfort...except does Bond want comfort, but why a quantum? Forget it, it's just bullshit. It seems the film makers decided to make the overarching theme of this Bond film, confusion.

So for the purposes of my and your, the reader's, sanity, I'm not going to bother trying to unravel the plot of Suantum of Quolace. It attempts to follow on immediately after the tantalising end of Casino Royale with a breathless car chase ending up with bad guy one being interrogated by M. Before you know it, shit goes wrong, bad guy one escapes and Bond chases bad guy two who ends up dead. Bad guy two is linked to bad guy three that Bond also ends up killing but he's linked to bad, well sort of, woman one...aaaand confusion. Yes I'm lost within the first 30 minutes, I don't know what's going on, who Bond is chasing and why.

But hey, having a confusing plot is practically a Bond staple at this point, one thing you can surely rely on is the action, which was phenomenal in Casino Royale. Unfortunately the editor for Something of Boris decided to take inspiration from those "great" Sean Connery action scenes where the camera cuts between shots twelve time a second! Also, let's combine that with the super trendy shaky cam thing, people love that right? The result is every fight and chase scene becoming practically unwatchable, I've no idea what's going on, I'm confus...you get the picture.

So we've got a shambles of a plot, chaotic action but a good villain can always turn things around... we get Dominic Greene, CEO of a what appears to be Water Aid...He's played by mild mannered Frenchman Mathieu Amalric and conveys about as much threat as an irritable maitre d' in a Parisian brasserie after just being called Garcon.

OK, so bad plot, bad action, bad bad guy, maybe we'll be redeemed by the evil scheme...alas...no. What's the worst thing a guy in charge of a water charity could do? Evaporate the world's oceans with a mega space patio heater? Melt the polar ice caps with a giant space laser? Poison a countries water supply with hallucinogenic toxins? Oh yeah, Batman did that one...no Monsieur villain reduces the amount of drinking water to a town in Bolivia with the demonic use of...dams.

On the plus side we get a quite feisty Bond girl in Camille but offset by the oh so easily seduced Ms Strawberry Fields...I mean if you're going to give her a stupid name at least give it at least one entendre.

We finish things off with a ridiculous sequence in a desert where things are mostly exploding, our minds are not. In fact Lex has been thoroughly unconscious for a good hour. But hold up there's still time for a damp squib ending. The finale ends up in Russia and inconceivably we're back to the Vesper revenge storyline, Bond has tracked down the boyfriend who is up to his old tricks with the Canadian secret service...seriously the Canadians have spys!? Anyway, Bond doesn't kill him which for some reason is meant to symbolise "closure".

All in all we're left pretty flat and thoroughly confused at what we just experienced. The only good thing to come out of this film is Joe Cornish's alternative theme tune. God bless you Adam & Joe,

 

Quantum of Solace (I've written it down) scores:

Girls n Gadgets - 2.8/10

Cheese - 1.3/10

Action - 6.7/10

Overall - 4.7/10.

Fingers crossed the remaining CURRYBONDs can only ascend from the depths of an overall score for Shahana + Quantum of Solace of 5.6/10.

CURRYBOND will return in Saravanaa Bhavan + Skyfall.

CURRYBOND #21 Kabul Darbar + Casino Royale

The Bond Leg

We arrive at another weekend CURRYBOND. Perhaps our last before the conclusion of the odyssey. Like the weekend CURRYBONDs long since past, we begin with the Bond Leg.

The lure of a new Bond and perhaps the joy of watching it before it gets dark led to a serious swell in CURRYBOND numbers. Something I didn’t take into account when choosing my flat, things soon turn into the personification of "how many CURRYBONDers can you fit into a one bedroom flat in London…?" Turns out, at least twelve...uncomfortably.

Clearly Casino Royale has some serious pulling power. Strong enough to lure two CURRBOND newbies all the way from the sunny south west after tales of masala and gadgets wafted their way down the M3. Perhaps it was rumours of a reboot, a much needed deep clean after wading through the grimy waters of the end of the Brosnan era. Enter Daniel Craig, big, beefy, blonde and somewhat beedie eyed, he's come to save the franchise. To spit out those one liners, smack you in the face with your laser watch and chuck you through the window of your invisible car. This is the Bond for the noughties, but he's still JB...no not Jason Bourne...well...you know.

We kick things off in black and white...not a union jack parachute in sight! This is serious. Turns out Bond isn't even a double O agent yet. That's right, proper re-boot. So forget those last 20 films and 2518 minutes of your life you just committed, we're starting over! We get introduced to DC Bond with him smashing a guys face into a bathroom, yep, pretty much the whole bathroom. It's brutal, then he shoots a guy in the face, BOSH! Titles!

The theme is provided by Soundgarden/Audioslave's Chris Cornell in slightly less shouty grunge mode, which is nice enough but it certainly lacks a bit of bombastic Bassey in the theme tune. The background antics isfilled with excellent poker themed fare with swirling clubs, diamonds, guns, girls etc, good stuff.

Our next introduction is to our Bond villain, played by Mads Mikkelsen who seems destined to be cast as a Bond villain. He even comes with a scar across his eye and cries blood! He is amazing, definitely one of the creepiest villains to date. Just to cement his evil status he's a banker. In fact he's busy touring Africa collecting cash from all your favourite warlords. Let's hope he has enough room in his ISA, you don’t want to invest their dosh in something risky...

Cut to Bond, and he's nearby in Madagascar apparently on his first mission chasing down a bomber with fellow agent Carter. Whilst they may have done away with the underwater cars, space lasers and midgets it seems Bond is forever going to be paired with the most incompetent of MI6 agents. Soon enough said bomber is alerted to the "spying" and legs it. Fortunately for us, we then get perhaps the greatest action chase sequence of any Bond film, maybe any film full stop. The running bomber is played by Sebastien Foucan, one of the creators of Parkour or free running. Fortunately his role in Casino Royale isn't delivering a 5 minute monologue, he has to run. Run for what seems like half an hour through endless obstacles. At one point he runs up a girder...a vertical girder! He leaps ridiculous distances around a building site all the while being pegged back by Danny Bond, who often takes the more direct route illustrated when he runs Juggernaut style, straight through a wall! It’s a fantastic sequence which ultimately ends up with Daniel Craigson shooting him in the face...this is getting samey already…

Back to base and M is pissed off...hang on. So we rebooted Bond back to his first mission but M is still Judi Dench...hmmm. Anyway, James Craigid is sent on holiday to the Bahamas, lovely. What better place to show off Dan's giant man boobs aka the hulk in trunks.

Alas, no rest for the wicked, that'sa license to kill not snorkel James. So soon enough he's back on the job playing poker and dropping bodies including the unfortunate hot girl he picked up and "probed" for information.

James ends up in Miami airport tracking down bad guy bomber number 2, fortunately this one isn't a free runner…I mean, never run in an airport, don’t be that guy. He takes the traditional approach and opts for disguise as security guard. Shit gets real when Richard Branson turns up...no wait...that was just weird. Things kick off as bad guy tries to blow up new shiny plane until Bond gets in the way and does the old take-your-tiny-explosive-keyring-and-strap-it-to-your-belt switcheroo, classic. Needless to say, bad guy goes pop, plane explosion averted...mostly, he stillmakes quite a mess.

Turns out this is all bad news for chief villain/banker Le Chiffre who just bet on the airline stocks tanking…

Time to set up our confrontation, "but it's only half way through the film I hear you say?" Ahh I see you’ve never played poker before…

That's right it's time for some poker. Now I like poker, I sometimes play poker, I've even watched poker on TV, but I understand if you've never done any of those things the next 45 minutes might drag a little…

We get set up by M who's sending Bond to play poker with Le Chiffre in Montenegro's Casino Royale. But first he needs some cash. Who holds the purse strings? Her Majesty's Treasury. So obviously Bond emails the appropriate Grade 6 and copies in the relevant DGs...nah, they just send this hot chick with a quirky accent and a dry wit. Yes, our Bond girl works at the treasury, and I can say with some experience, they don’t typically look like Eva Green. Vesper Lynd (I mean it's no Octopussy…) is our Bond girl, and soon enough is flirting away with Danny Bond.

We're then treated to some excellent poker action, a straight here, a full house there, big blind, all in, it's great stuff. Until it's rudely interrupted by some fierce action sequences when our African warlord turns up unhappy about his rate of return and then some bastard gets Bond's Martini order wrong and puts 3 parts gin 2 parts vodka 1 part deadly poison! Thankfully, one of our new CURRYBOND recruits is a practicing surgeon who confirms a self inflicted defibrillation is not a great idea…

Bond gets back in the game after changing his suit for the eighth time and starts pokering his arse off. Soon enough everyone's all in. Biggie Smalls, Rayden from Mortal Kombat, Le Chiffre and James "snake eyes" Bond. Biggie Smalls gets a flush….Rayden, the lightning god, gets a full house...Le Chiffre gets a better full house...But J Bizzle busts out the straight flush! A hand so good you basically wet your pants when you get it and everyone folds immediately as your joyful urine stench fills the air. So Bond wins the cash. Which is great...congrats Jimmy B. But left me thinking if they hadn't so mercilessly condemned Q branch, Desmond Llewellyn could have whipped him up some x-ray specs or some kind of ace fabricating device in no time. This new era seems like much harder work.

Unfortunately we've got through three quarters of the film and Bond hasn’t been captured. Bond get's captured. Along with Treasury employee Vesper...I just hope she included this in her Risk Assessment form or there'll be some serious paperwork when she gets back.

To go along with our new gritty Bond, we get new gritty torture scenes as Le Chiffre practices his very specific version of swingball...with more than one ball...ouch. Mr villain however meets an unusual end, rather than being minced by a giant drill or falling from a satellite dish he's simply shot in the head...by mysterious bad guy number 2, Mr White…disappointing.

Queue passage of time and Bond is still feeling somewhat...delicate. This doesn’t stop him falling for his first Bond girl, Vesper. We get a lovely montage of them cruising around the Med having fun, they turn up in Venice it's all going rosy. So good in fact Bond decides he's going to ditch this spying lark and bum around with the Treasury's finest. One thing however we've learnt from our Bond education, Bond + love = dead people. Yes, it turns out Vesper was conning poor old mega-pecks out of his hard earned poker winnings to buy off some blokes who kidnapped her boyfriend what a bitch! I knew she was far too attractive to work at the Treasury... But maybe she loved James really? It’s a bit hazy, but as per usual Bond's greatest love meets her timely demise in a rather dramatic drowning in a lift sequence under Venice which is all very traumatic and even rivals the only good thing about On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the bit when his wife gets shot in the face…

So all in all this is certainly the best debut Bond film so far, and may even be the best Bond film overall...The plot is great and makes sense with enough interesting ambiguity at the end to leave you wondering. The action is amazing and there is genuine, threat, tension and drama...which is perhaps a little lacking in the majority of the Bond films. The question remains however, without the one-liners, the gadgets, Q, the comedy henchman this may be a great film, but is it a great Bond film?

It seems our CURRYBONDers think so and award Casino Royale with:

Girls n Gadgets - 5.8/10

Cheese - 3.6/10

Action - 9.1/10

Overall - 8.5/10

Meaning Casino Royale takes its place at the top of the leaderboard pipping Roger Moore's somewhat differentapproach in Spy Who Loved Me by 0.1.

 

The Curry Leg

After a pretty thrill packed ride through the first Daniel Craig Bond we're in need of a stiff drink to settle our nerves and steel ourselves for the curry to come. We make the short hop to the Trafalgar Arms for a pitstop and pick up a couple more CURRYBONDers, another debutant who clearly takes the prize for tallest CURRYBONDer and a previous weekend CURRYBONDer back for more Tooting delights.

Although the film was on the long side we had plenty of time left to make the leisurely stroll up Tooting High Street to our curry venue, Kabul Darbar. Located on the corner of Letchworth St, a corner we know very well as three CURRYBONDers began their Tooting experiences buying chicken breasts the size of double D cup implants from the halal butcher that used to inhabit this venue. It then turned into an ill fated Chinese takeaway, the remnants of which can still be spotted on the signage outside until it has recently been established as a new curry restaurant offering as the signage informs us, "Traditional Afghan Cuisine".

We stake our seats at 7pm, table booked, restaurant is fairly quiet but soon starts to fill up. The décor is modern (for a curry place), comfortable and clean. All the signs were positive so far.

We peruse the options available, it certainly seems like authentic Afghan fare on offer which we've come across once before at Namak Mandi. The curries are offered by the kilo in big sharing karahi dishes, and there's no pandering to the curry staples we've come accustomed to. So no Chicken Tikka Masala or Onion Bhaji in sight, the reference is abandoned.

We line up starters of Mantoo, Bandenjan Buranie, and Samosas. We also order our mains at the same time which is now probably around 7.30pm.

The starters arrive in good time and we're generally impressed with the quality. The aubergine was soft and spicy in a sour yoghurt sauce, it also looked impressive, not just dumped on the side of a mountain of shredded iceberg lettuce. The parcels of Mantoo were also delicious smothered in a spiced chickpea sauce and littered with coriander. I heard slightly less enthusiastic murmerings about the samosas but overall a strong start on the starters.

Starters done, it's now about 7.45pm, and now we wait. And wait. At first it's fine, it's CURRYBOND, we've plenty to talk about, like all the curry we've eaten and all the Bond films we've fallen asleep during, but the conversation begins to wane...and people start to look at their watches. We notice tables around us aren't the same people we came in with. Entire tables had been served, eaten their food, paid and left and new people arrived in the time between our starters and mains. It's easily 9pm before the first sign of a main course begin to emerge. It’s a somewhat adhoc smattering of dishes, and then they stop. We’ve received about 7 of 11 main courses. There's obviously some confusion. The staff don’t seem overly bothered and are more on the confused spectrum. It goes on and those people with food eat said food, and to be honest it's all pretty tasty and accompanied by typically giant Afghan naans.

Food Score - 7.2/10.

The quality however doesn’t compensate for the delays and lack of food. It's another good 30-40 minutes before we get all our dishes, including a Sea Bass which appears to have been roasting in the bottom of a tandoor for the entire time…

Needless to say as we get the bill at about 10pm we're not best pleased and with the merest of apologies from the waiting staff and the male waiter keen to blame it on the girl serving us who had apparently been on the job for one day. We're not offered any kind of compensation so I have a frank discussion and explain that we aren't planning to pay for the main courses that turned up two hours late.

Venue Score - 1.1/10.

The bill would have been £165 which is £15/CURRYBONDer, so a middling priced curry place. No alcohol is provided or allowed so bear this in mind.

Value Score - 5.8/10.

We're left with a sour taste,  feeling that this could have a been strong contender with very good food and giant naan but these factors couldn’t counter the poor service.

Alas, Kabul Darbar received an

Overall Score - 3.1/10.

So CURRYBOND #21 sees the highest highs in the Bond leg and the lowest lows for the curry and all in all receives an overall score of 5.8/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Shahana + Quantum of Solace.

CURRYBOND #20 Jaffna House + Die Another Day

The Curry Leg

Twenty curry restaurants in and it's time for a more somber tone. Thanks to those Russian oligarchs, the unstoppable growth in wealth seeping down the Northern line has led to the inevitable gentrification of Tooting. Whilst I welcome the trendy burger joints, the gin bars and the Wandsworth craft beers, there have been casualties. So let's put on our black armbands and take a moment to mourn the loss of the curry places that didn't make it through the CURRYBOND journey.

Cinnamon Garden - originally scheduled for CURRYBOND #19

Onam - our venue for CURRYBOND #9, despite getting a respectable 7.7/10 it clearly came too late and the remains have been re-birthed as a rather nice looking Brazilian Steakhouse...we'll remember your Appam and Stew amongst other Keralan treats. Rest easy in the halls of curry Valhalla.

Not even CURRYBOND can stand in the way of progress

This weeks curry leg sees our intrepid CURRYBONDers back in the heart of the curry corridor, just south of Tooting Broadway at Jaffna House. It's certainly noticeable on the high street with it's vibrant blue and yellow neon sign announcing our latest establishment as Sri Lankan - South Indian Takeaway & Restaurant.

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You would be forgiven for thinking the front of the "restaurant" offers anything except takeaway but you would be wrong. For those in the know, the entrance to the restaurant is in fact around the corner through, for all intents and purposes, a front door to a house...it is in fact a secret door to curry wonderment...well sort of.

Venue Score - 6.0/10.

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The restaurant inside is quite modest. There's a bar at the back and a number of authentic looking adornments to welcome us in. Taking our seats I'm immediately impressed by the branded Jaffna House napkins, a nice touch but perhaps the extent of the attention to detail for the rest of our evening.

Once a solid number CURRYBONDers arrive we get the orders flowing. Up to start are Devilled Chicken, Prawn Poori and Onion Bhajis (there may be other things, but due to the poor quality of both the receipt and my memory, they have been omitted).

There was a clear divide in opinion of the food quality with the CURRYBONDers nearest the bar (I'm sure this had no bearing...) scoring pretty highly, whereas those at the far end of the table much less impressed. Jobbers certainly appreciated his first foray into the world of devilled things and Rimmsy gave the ever-recurring prawn poori a thumbs up. What wasn't up for debate however, was the quality of the bhajis, which came in fat, doughy, stodge patties...poor. Bhaji Score 4/10.

The mains make their appearance soon after and we plump for Butter Chicken, Special Chicken Curry, King Prawn Masala, Chicken Tikka Bhuna, the reference Chicken Tikka Masala and assorted others I still cant make out...

For me, it's one of those bowls-of-brown-stuff experiences. I put my spoon in a good selection of brown looking sauces and the distinction in flavour was minimal. The naan accompaniments were average being overly bready. Again, half the table seemed to enjoy the experience somewhat more so Jaffna House gets a democratic...

Food Score - 6.3/10.

The portions came in relatively shallow dishes, I mean we obviously still didn't finish it all, but still...Cobras and Kingfisher were on offer alongside the full bar of spirits so added to the overall cost. The bill came in (on a slightly less professional receipt than their napkins) at £96.05 that's £13.72/CURRYBONDer, a mid range cost of curry.

Value Score - 7.2/10.

We emerge from the curry dining room into the darkness with Winter coats, it seems we've come full circle as we approach the last four CURRYBONDs, Winter is coming...and sadly this curry leg doesn't provide a light in the darkness.

Overall Score - 6.3/10.

 

The Bond Leg

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Twenty Bond films. A hugely impressive achievement, not least having the same character over five different actors who hasn't aged for 40 years. So, thought the producers, we should celebrate right? Let's put in loads of cool references to past films, let's bring back all those great plot points, remember that one with the Asian bad guy who changes his face and becomes a white guy with ginger hair...no? Oh...bad idea.

Yes, it's Die Another Day, the curtain call of the Brosnan era. I wonder if he'll go out on a high...or is there a reason why this is the last Brosnan film...and it took 4 years before anyone could stomach a new Bond...hmmm.

Things kick off with an arms deal alla Tomorrow Never Dies, not exactly classic, but this Bond generation have short memories. Yes an arms deal in North Korea where we're introduced to the Korean versions of our bad guys...I'll get to that...Things soon go tits up when bad guys realise Bond has been pulling this trick for 20 films and blow up his escape route and take him into Korean custody. Obviously there's a whole load of explosions, hovercrafts and diamond encrusting action beforehand, but in the end Bond gets caught...obviously.

We then get our first ever plot driven intro sequence where nudey ladies are replaced by torture scenes, doesn't quite have the same appeal. Especially when it's backed by possibly the worst Bond theme. Summing up why early 00's pop music should be banished from existence, delivered by Madonna who's just discovered the wonders of auto-tune. Let's hope that's the last we see of her...

Back to our plot and an extra beardy Bond sporting some lovely prison pyjamas is taking a stroll across a rather foggy bridge when he figures out he's being traded for diamond encrusted Korean bad guy, Zao. Bond clearly needs a holiday, and a beard trimmer...so ditches M, by stopping his own heart...that's a new one...and heads to Cuba.

Time for another supercool reference, let's have another hot girl emerge from the ocean while James ogles her. Better make sure she has big jiggly boobs though this time, who's the best female actress to fulfil this challenging role, Ooo clearly Oscar winner Halle Berry!

After bedding said hot girl, obviously, Bond heads to the beauty clinic for terrorists to find, now slightly less Korean more Marvel alien bad guy, Zao, who's busy having his magic mask with extra future lights treatment. Bad guy escapes, hot girl escapes and Bond is left holding his....diamonds...

Back to London for Bond and he's on the trail of chief bad guy Gustav Graves, owner of said diamonds. He picks him up in a fencing club...why not I guess. Ok, looks fine, some nice swordplay, riposte, en guarde etc, who's this fencing teacher? Oh....Really?...I mean, there wasn't anyone else...it's just...you heard the song right?...and that other thing she was in? Swept away? Yes, Madonna's back acting her corset off as the fencing instructor and old flame, (I mean she's female) to Bond.

But wait, that's not the worst thing in this sequence, not by a long shot...enter Gustav Graves, played by Toby Stevens who has the most punchable facial expressions I've ever witnessed on screen. I want to reach into the TV and rip off his ridiculous smirk to reveal the unconscionable plot twist beneath.

So they have a sword fight, it's ludicrous, Rosamund Pike turns up, let's move on.

Time for some gadgets. Bond heads to dis-used tube station Vauxhall Cross to pick up his new wheels, but wait where are they? We've had an underwater car, a flying car and a remote control car. Yes, it's an invisible car, sigh, and sadly, the last we see of the John Cleese Q.

Next locale, Iceland. We get an ice hotel, another appearance from Halle Berry's Jinx and a demonstration of the super weapon. Time for another reference, but to be honest is it an homage to Goldeneye? Moonraker?Diamonds are Forever? Goldfinger? That's right it's another space laser...

Bond's no fool, he's seen this before and thinks hmmm, he's a good fencer but maybe he's not a good guy. A bit of "spying" and look out it's time for a twist. Yes, the rich white man with ginger hair is in fact previous Korean bad guy, Colonol Moon...thanks to magic mask future lights. But that's not everything, it seems M Night Shayamalan casts a long shadow, so what's better than one stupid twist...? Fellow undercover agent, Miranda Frost reveals she loves a bit of Korean bad guy and turns on J Bond and oh god isn't this exciting, no? But it's a twist! Twists = excitement. Stupid.

We then get some pretty good fast car on ice, gadget filled chasing action. Which if you didn't know from the 6 months of trailers, promotions and merchandising were a Jaguar XKR and an Austin Martin Vanquish, on sale now! Things get a bit melty when bad guy turns his space laser on to his ice hotel drowning the increasingly incompetent Jinx, until thank goodness, Bond to the rescue...oh James.

Better get to our denouement, and it's back to North Korea where Korean, remember, bad guy is trying to convince his KOREAN dad that his space laser is the mutts nuts and proceeds to blow up all the land mines in the DMZ. Things come to a head on a big old plane which James and Jinx find themselves on with Gustav, the Korean, bad guy, who has decided to fashion what can only be described as a Robocop inspired exo-suit to better control his space laser...seriously.

It all kick off, Bond fights robo-Gustav whilst Jinx takes on a for some reason, scantily clad Ms Frost. Things don't go well when they fly straight through the space lasers beam, which causes the plane a few problems but it's certainly not full on vaporisation.

After finally getting bored of punching the most punchable face in cinema history Bond puts robo-Korean-Ginge out of his misery by illustrating the opening of a parachute near a jet engine is never a good idea...

Time for an escape, something subtle, something charming? Nah let's drop a helicopter out of a plane and start it in free fall...

Needless to say we end with Bond + Bond girl in a sex shelter, this time a surprisingly understated cottage...

You may have guessed from the above that I don't particularly rate this Bond film. Unfortunately I decided that a dictatorship wasn't appropriate for scoring CURRYBOND, a decision I clearly regret when the scores come in at

Girls n Gadgets - 7.4/10

Cheese - 7.5/10

Action - 6.5/10

Overall - 6.8/10.

One CURRYBONDer scored this film 8/10, I will happily provide his name, number and address if you wish to understand how this came about i.e. blame the scores on Jobbers...

CURRYBOND will return in Shahana + Casino Royale.

CURRYBOND #19 Spice of Raj + The World is not Enough

The Curry Leg

Eighteen CURRYBONDs in and we've been to Tooting Broadway, we've been to Tooting Bec, we've been to Tooting Graveney now we must venture south, further south than we've ever been before. Crossing the railway at the bottom of Tooting High Street, leaving the warmth of Wandsworth and its cheapest-in-the-country council tax housing into the unforgiving borough of Merton, home to Colliers Wood and our next venue, Spice of Raj.

We're greeted with a warm welcome, a cosy atmosphere and tablecloths! It's very much your slightly dated but feels like home type of curry place.

Venue Score - 7.3/10.

The menu is significant, with pretty much every curry house staple on offer, Bhuna, Madras, Dopiaza, Jalfrezi, Phaal. There are also a number of interesting looking specials. We get the popadoms in quick smart and get the always pleasing rotary pots of chutney. With a quorum of CURRYBONDers we get the orders in with Lamb Tikka, Prawn Puuri and thankfully, Onion Bhajis. The Lamb is lovely, well Tikka'ed and tender, unfortunately the same can't be said for the bhajis which come in a little dry. Bhaji score - 4/10.

The mains arrive in good time with a selection of Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi, a special Nawabi Chicken, Chana Masala, Chicken and Vegetable Balti and another reference Chicken Tikka Masala accompanied by garlic naans, egg parotha and a pilau rice. On arrival, things look good. The curry is vibrant and not just a study of brown. The CTM, is a hot pink but on shovelling into the curry cave on my face it was a mild experience, much more akin to a korma. The Chicken Balti was enormous and very tasty. My fellow CURRYBONDers however were less enthusiastic. The Jalfrezi was seeringly spicy with chilli-a-plenty and the special chicken dish got a middling reception.

Food Score - 6.8/10.

The curry remains left on the table are significant, portion size is certainly not a problem. Alcohol was on the menu and so empty Cobra bottles adorn the table top. The bill arrives at £87.70 which is a hefty £21.93/CURRYBONDer, the first time we break the £20 barrier. So not the cheapest of curry houses accounted for in its value score.

Value Score - 5.3/10.

Our adventure out of Tooting to the depths of Merton was therefore pretty successful. A cosy curry house with all the choice you could want from the curry classics, but if you want a bargain, head up the road to Tooting, the true home of curry.

Overall Score - 6.9/10.

 

The Bond Leg

We leave satisfied and make the interesting journey to The Gorringe through the wilds of Colliers Wood and to take our seats for the Bond Leg.

We're thoroughly embedded in the Brosnan era and next up, The World is not Enough. We'll see if it holds our attention to make it through this effort without slipping into the curry coma.

We start with the coldest of cold opens in Bilbao, with bankers...sexy stuff. Fortunately someone gets shot pretty quickly and Bond legs it with a suitcase of cash. Certainly an odd way to introduce us to Bond...Hard cut to MI6 in London and Bond is delivering said cash back to M until lookout, someone put an alca-seltzer in Bond's bourbon and for some reason that means there's a bomb in the building…? Good instincts James, some pesky bad guy just made a serious hole in MI6. After a slightly confusing intro we settle in for a more satisfying chase scene as James jumps in a pretty nippy speed boat and gets after a sniper...who was also there...We get some excellent boat on Thames action and what better place to conclude our chase than a hot air balloon over the Millennium Dome, it is 1999 after all. Henchwoman realises a hot air balloon isn't the best of getaway vehicles when you're trying to get back to Russia and blows herself up leaving Bond to test out the structural integrity of the Dome. Surely he rolled on down to enjoy the Millennium Experience and that weird half man, half woman giant plastic body thing...thank god they turned it into a gig venue!

The credits role and are of a particularly oily nature with our Bond theme provided by those 90s behemoths...Garbage, oh well I heard it's Madonna next, she's good right?

Back at base and its plot time. Pretty simple from M, find the guy who blew a hole in my building! Turns out the top suspect is none other than Britain's favourite Scottish male stripper Robert Carlyle doing an impression of a sort of Russian called Renard, menacing! We've had Goldfinger, Blofeld, Janus, Dr. No, Zorin! I feel the name of our bad guy sums up the overall feeling of this Bond film, flat... It gets better though, because the most interesting thing about our super villain is he's already been shot in the head. Clearly being shot in the head isn't what it used to be and it seems this bullet was able to make an expert landing in his brain making the Ruskyscot immune to pain...aka a superhero!

Bad guy Renard was also responsible for kidnapping Bond girl number one, Elektra, (now that's a Bond name), who is daughter of guy who accidently blew a hole in MI6 and therefore due to inherit his oil fortunes...hmmm I wonder where her motives lie…

Before Bond jets off to his latest exotic location, he needs his gadgets and so we get our scene with Q. Which is a little melancholic as it’s the last outing for the Bond stalwart and only actor to appear in every Bond film so far, Desmond llewelyn who makes his exit before his passing via trap door leaving the gadgetry reigns to R aka John frickin' Cleese!

Our exotic location is a new one Azerbaijan. First up is Baku and Bond is off to keep Elektra company as she investigates a pipeline in the snow. Queue a classic Bond ski chase as Jim and Elektra are chased down by flying skidoo things with guns! It's fun, its Bond on skis, what more do you want? How about an avalanche which Bond promptly escapes from with a self inflating zorb!

We then get a series of scenes that Bond jumps around the outskirts of Russia meeting the rest of the cast. We get our second Scot masquerading as a Russian with the returning Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky.

Bond then turns up at an old nuclear missile silo to greet Bond Girl number 2 Denise Richards as Christmas Jones, that's right first name Christmas...I wonder why that is…

To be honest, the middle third suffers from that all too familiar slacking in pace and interest, I for one start to nod off between scenes of oil pipes, nuclear missiles and the inevitable double crossing Elektra. Things pick up briefly whenever Cracker makes it back on screen but the rest of the supporting cast is pretty bland, I mean where's our henchman!?

The final sequence takes place on a submarine in the Bosphorus dividing Istanbul. Why? Because our dastardly plot is revealed as stealing a nuke so Robert Carlyle can set it off underwater near Istanbul so that oil tankers no longer want to use the channel and therefore all oil has to go through now bad Bond girl Elektra's pipeline. Seriously…

Fortunately Bond is on the case and proceeds to make a big hole in the sub which makes things a little damp inside. Dr. Jones is with him and spends most of the time wearing a wet T-shirt and trying not to drown. In the meantime Bond is having a punch up with Renard in a nuclear reactor...sigh. Bad guy ultimately meets his demise via a nuclear fuel rod through the chest...double sigh.

Danger averted, Brosnan is left to celebrate his latest mediocre Bond film in bed with Dr. Jones and delivers the piece de resistance of cheese, "I was wrong about you…", "How so?", "I thought Christmas only came once a year…" and groan…

One can only conclude that the line came before the character name, which sums up everything you need to know about The World is Not Enough. Badcharacters, bad accents, silly plot but some pretty good Bond action. The World is not Enough scores:

Girls n Gadgets - 7.2/10

Cheese - 7.8/10

Action - 7.4/10

Overall - 7.0/10.

 

So it's safe to safe both the curry and the Bond will nestle nicely in the CURRYBOND mid-table, as Roy Walker so wisely said, it's good, but it's not the one.

CURRYBOND #19 Spice of Raj + The World is not Enough scores 6.9/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Jaffna House + Die Another Day.

CURRYBOND #18 Yhaal House + Tomorrow Never Dies

The Curry Leg

Another Tuesday evening, another CURRYBOND scheduled at one of those venues that you tend to walk past on the high street and not really give much thought. Yhaal House was up for CURRYBOND #18 located close the The Gorringe Park pub on Mitcham Road. Having already scoped out the venue to some degree I make a decision which was inevitable at some point in the CURRYBOND marathon, I invoke the takeaway. With a severely limited CURRYBOND cast list and Yhaal House only really having those metal tables you get at the front of takeaways that are pretty much just full of people in their trackies and slippers waiting to pick up a nice warm brown bag of curry treats, it all makes sense.

Venue Score - 3/10.

The CURRYBONDers gather at CURRYBOND HQ and peruse the menu thanks to zomato.com (the best restaurant app I reckon). The curry fare on offer is Sri Lankan for the most part with a sprinkling of curry staples. Having not embraced the specials on offer at a previous Sri Lankan option (CURRYBOND #6 Apollo Banana Leaf) I make sure we delve in to the local delicacies.

I make a short list of interesting looking starters but things don't go well on the phone...no samosas, no bondas...just give us what you have...we get some veggie roll things. The mains are more straight forward and we line up Chicken Kothu, Seafood Kothu, Chicken Madras, Chicken Tikka Masala, a couple of Parothas and a Pilau Rice. Unfortunately, no bhajis but we've got a CTM to set our curry baseline.

Sadly Yhaal House doesn't deliver, but I jump on my bike and take mp place amongst my fellow hungry takeawayers killing time at our metal tables. I'm pleased to say from phone order to pick up it only took about 40mins with a pretty short wait to pick up my fragrant bag. I pedal against the laws of thermodynamics stealing the warmth away from our dinner, carefully navigating the speed bumps creating a small madras flavoured puddle in my bag, but thankfully the majority of the food makes it to the hungry CURRYBONDERs.

First impressions aren't great...the portions are certainly large but there's an overwhelming brownness to the emerging cartons. But, as we have learnt throughout the CURRYBOND saga, don't judge a book covered in curry sauce by it's curry smeared cover. The Kothus in particular look grim, more shallow fried brain but I'm happy to report it was in fact, delicious! Once your tastebuds take over the decision making from your eyes things rapidly improve. The sauced curries are hot, deeply spiced with succulent chunks of chicken. The Kothus have a slightly squishy texture but are heavily spiced and moorish. The Parothas also make an excellent accompaniment.

Food Score - 7.7/10.

The portions are, frankly, huge. We barely make a dent in the Kothus and only one of the curries makes a full escape from its carton. The price for all this is frankly ridiculous, £24 in total! That's a mere £8/CURRYBONDer. Sure I had to provide the transport, cutlery and wash up after, but still...

Value Score - 8.7/10.

For the first time therefore I get to make the most out of the leftovers, with Curry Leg part 2 and 3 the next day. The reheated version held up for the most part and the after effects were...tolerable.

Overall Score - 7.3/10.

The Bond leg

The demarcation of the curry and Bond legs becomes blurry in CURRYBOND #18. We plonk the table in from of the tele at get stuck into our starters alongside the cold open of the second edition of the pierce Brosnan Bond era, Tomorrow Never Dies. Things kick off well, it's cold, there are Russians around, and a shit tonne of weapons. Bond is stalking around as one of his cooler monikers, White Knight. Back in Blighty he's being ordered around by the cast of As Time Goes By...

Needless to say things kick off when Admiral Lionel fires a cruise missile at Russia until Bond informs them they're about to blow up a bunch of nukes, whoops! We get a nice shot of what must be one of the earliest uses of good CG in a Bond film (Moonraker does not count as good CG) as we follow the cruise missile on its path to destruction. Bond nicks the nukes, attached to a jet and takes off for some excellent dog fighting action which concludes with Bond ejecting an unwanted passenger into another jet...skills.

We get a pretty dull Bond title sequence with an underwhelming song by Cheryl Crow, it was the 90s I guess...

Our next sequence sees a suitably British boat with lots of very British sailors cruising around neutral waters...or are they. Yep turns out our evil super weapon this time is a little red box that tells boats they took the third sea to the left not the second...Meanwhile there's a Die Hard reject bad guy in a stealth boat causing trouble launching a drill torpedo, a drillpedo if you will, to sink said boat and pinch their missiles. But the best bit is, they blame it on the Chinese! But how is anyone going to know about it...?

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That's right it's the evil media mogul super villain film. Elliot Carver played by Jonathon Pryce who's performance certainly wouldn't be describes as subtle...is our villain, intent on starting World War 3 and making his millions by selling newspapers and magazines...it seems his henchman haven't broken the news to him about the Internet...

Back to the plot, and Bond is sent to "infiltrate" Carver's Apple-esque product launch using his "spy skills", you know the ones, "hi, my names James Bond, no not the spy, obviously...". So Bond turns up in Hamburg, the obvious place to launch a worldwide media network, where we meet both our Bond girls. First up is Louis Lane herself, Teri Hatcher who adequately fulfills the role of quickly murdered-after-shagging-James Bond girl. Our second, and longer lasting Bond girl, Wai Lin comes fresh out of Crouching Tiger, Bond is always quick to jump on a bandwagon, and this one is driven by Michelle Yeoh.

After said murder of Louis Lane we get probably the best scene in the film clearly stolen by chief torturer Dr. Kauffman, with my favourite line delivered in a comedy German accent, "I could shoot you from Stuttgart and still make it look like an accident!". Unfortunately the criminally underused Kauffman comes to an early end after some classic Bond gadgetry and it's time for an escape scene.

Bond's latest car, a BMW continuing the German themed sponsorship of this film, is handily equipped with a remote control. Bond goes all Dukes of Hazard and we get an excellent action sequence with Bond driving around a multi-storey car park, sitting in the back seat on his phone...I remember Nokia 8210s in the 90s, that's no joke.

Unfortunately we then get the overly familiar boring middle third of the Bond film. True, there's quite a fun bike/helicopter chase scene but things generally plod along with no real consequence.

We therefore make it to the denouement aboard the stealth boat. Again, there's not a great face-off, particularly when the bad guy is Jonathon Pryce, not the most physically threatening villain so comes to a pretty speedy demise as he's chewed up by the drillpedo. Boat blows up, henchman, blows up, Bond surfaces with Bond girl for a classic snog amidst the wreckage. Bond checklist complete.

So overall the second outing for Pierce Brosnan is perhaps the difficult second album, some classic Bond elements, a good start but a slow decline to a flat ending. Tomorrow Never Dies scores

Girls n Gadgets - 6.3/10

Cheese - 7.3/10

Action 7.7/10

Overall - 7.0/10.

Our first takeaway and combined CURRYBOND experience results in an overall score for CURRYBOND #18 of 7.2/10.

CURRYBOND will return in Cinnamon Garden + The World is not Enough

CURRYBOND #17 Samrat Tandoori + Goldeneye

CURRYBOND #17 Samrat Tandoori + Goldeneye

As we depart the Summer of 2016 and look ahead to dark evenings brown leaves and far too much X-Factor, we also enter the Autumn of the Bond legacy. To make the most of the dwindling bright and warm afternoons we come to another weekend CURRYBOND.

With a host of casual CURRYBONDers and some first timers, including our youngest ever CURRYBONDer accompanied by Mum and Sophie the Giraffe, we kick things off at the Gorringe for a pleasant Saturday afternoon romp with Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean.

The Bond Leg

At last. We come to a Bond film I remember watching when it came out. Goldeneye.

Although I imagine like most men of my age, my memories of Goldeneye don't necessarily derive from the film, but from one of the greatest multi-player console games of all time, Goldeneye on the N64. Now I didn't own an N64, I was still plugging away with my Amiga 500...but playing it consumed 90% of all time with my friends in 1997. Never has sneaking up on a Russian on the bog and shooting his hat off without alerting him felt so fulfilling.

The game was so fantastically reproduced from the film that for the first time you actually felt like you were in an action film. With the same music, the same sound effects, and even Sean Bean rendered in at least 7 polygons added to the realism.

Obviously looking back now it looks like a pile of 90s graphical poo, but at the time it was revolutionary. Sadly, without owning said game, my skills were somewhat limited. Most clearly demonstrated in multi-player as I stumbled around with nought but a Klobb, whilst my rivals stalked me, crawling around as the impossibly tiny Oddjob covering the spawn locations with proximity mines and mowing me down with their RCP90s...good times.

But to the film. After shaking off the somewhat mediocre Dalton era, it's time for a refresh. A lot has changed since our last outing in 1989. The internet arrived, hackers are a thing, everyone has a computer at home, sure it' some of those giant ugly grey boxes, but it feels like the future. We've also had Die Hard, Aliens and Terminator 2. The action film, which Bond pioneered, has finally produced genuinely good films. Now it's time for Bond to follow suit.

We kick things off with a guy, who sort of looks like Bond, chucking himself off a giant freackin' damn! Boosh, welcome to the 90s Bond!

James, begins level 2 - Facility in the previously discussed toilet, clocking a bunch of Russians in the face. It's not long before Sharpe turns up, with a rifle but not his green jacket, posing as 006 to help out, "For England James!". Things take a turn for the worst when someone turns off stealth mode and a whole Russian army turns up headed by excellent bad guy General Ourumov. Before you know it the ever unreliable 006 is on his knees getting a bullet in the head. Well it is Sean Bean, he normally gets wasted in his first few scenes. Time for an escape, and what better way than to dive off a cliff, defy the laws of gravity, catch up with a falling plane, get in and fly off into the title credits. Bah, bum bum bum...enter Tina Turner!

 

Nine years later and time for a car chase, and we're introduced to our henchman/femme fatale Xenia (Jean Gray) Onatopp...Onatopp?....Ona-topp...splendid.

Enter feisty woman number 2, the new M played by the all conquering Dench, who slaps down the "misogynist, dinosaur from the Cold War" before dishing out the Bourbon and sending James off to "observe" Miss Onatopp.

Skip forward a few plot points and Russian bad guys have nicked a fancy helichopper and arrived at Level 5 - Bunker. We're introduced to feisty woman number 3 and our nominated Bond girl, Natalya Seminijkedeova...or something, and chief comedy hacker, Boris.

Before you know it Xenia thunder thighs (I'll get to that) is blowing everyone away, which in one of the more sadistic character traits appears to become very "happy" at the sight of mass murder. Turns out the bunker is the control station for our evil weapon of disaster, the Goldeneye...satellite. Yep, another space based death laser, which this time just sort of turns off all the power and ruins your Casio wristwatch, proper evil. Needless to say, bad guys escape with the keys to the weapon and destroy the evidence, mostly.

After a quick trip to Q branch, Bond is off to chilly St Petersburg where he meets up with Cracker himself, Robbie Coltrane as the fantastically grouchy Valentin Zukovsky.

Cracker gives up the goods and gives Jimmy a line of secretive string puller Janus. Intelligence acquired, Bond heads back to the hotel for dip in the pool and an erotic punch up with Miss Onatopp, who's weapon of choice is her mighty thighs...Bond sticks with the old fashioned gun approach and insists on an intro with Janus.

Level 10 - Statue Park. Look out for those guys with shotguns, they're a bitch.

Emerging from the shadows of the giant looming Soviet leaders appears Janus. OMG! (Spoiler alert) It's Sean Bean back from the dead! One of the few genuinely surprising twists in a Bond film. Inevitably, Bond is captured and to maintain the tradition is tied up ready for his stupidly elaborate murder. This time he's accompanied by Natalya who provides some excellent shouty acting. Inevitably Bond escapes until, hang on...captured again...balls!

Our next major set piece after the 18th escape from Russian jail...they really need to work on those security protocols...is another car chase. But car on car is no fun. Let's go car on tank this time!

That's right it's Level 12 - Streets (a somewhat underplayed title for a level where you drive around in a tank blowing the crap out of Russia), and Bond proceeds to demolish the majority of St. Petersburg on his way to intercepting Ourumov still holding Natalya who escape in the Ringo Starr shaped train...

Bad guys however have seemed to forget James is in a tank until he blows them off the tracks, but crafty Sean Bean still manages to escape in a another chopper! Bond escapes imminent exploding train with use of his crafty laser watch...man that was a bitch to keep steady with a thumbstick...

With Russia done, it's time for our climax location, let's do...Cuba, why not!? We get the oddly fast Bond girl falling in love with James bit, and then it's off to find the evil lair. Level 16 - Control (definitely the hardest one to complete on 00 agent difficulty...) we're in the remaining Goldeneye control centre with Boris, Alec (Sean Bean) and henchman galore. We get another nice confrontation with bad guy until Bond proves the pen is mightier than the sword...hur hur, and blows the whole place up with his trusty pen grenade with a little help from Boris.

Our final confrontation takes place on the antenna array with a good punch up between Pierce and Sean until the inevitable, bad guy hanging off a tall structure, scene. Alec makes one last plea, "For England James?", after planning to wipe out all the financial records in London with his mega-weapon, Bond is clearly looking after his hefty MI6 pension, "No, for me"...bad guy falls to his death. Well you would think, but it seems a 100ft fall onto concrete doesn't quite do the job...fortunately it's not long before the rest of the satellite dish falls on his face, just to make sure.

Everything tied up, Bond escapes on a helicopter (yes, another one!) piloted by a helpful henchman and drops Bond and Natalya off for some jungle fun times.

Right next up Level 19 - Aztec, and Bond is in a temple, and there's this shuttle he has to launch, and then Jaws turns up and....hang on...someone's been extending this screenplay....

So Goldeneye, one of the greatest computer games of the 90s and a pretty good film as well. An excellent first foray into the franchise from Pierce Bond, a splendidly feisty Bond girl in Natalya Sprofndjkfdiova, great bad guy and oodles of action and cheese. Goldeneye scores

Girls n Gadgets - 7.2/10

Cheese - 7.8/10

Action - 8.3/10

Overall - 8.0/10.

With the Bond leg under our belts, and a fair few beers in The Gorringe garden, thoughts drift to the impending walk to our curry venue, Saravanaa Bhavan. After not being able to book a table for our inflated curry leg cast list I make an executive, if controversial decision. I switch the curry leg to the place down the road. So, we jump to Samrat Tandoori!

The Curry Leg

Our venue therefore is a mere 20m down the road from The Gorringe on Mitcham Road. There's bold signage welcoming you in to the cosy restaurant. We pass the interestingly decorated dining booths along one side to a larger area at the back where 11 CURRYBONDers take their seats, eagerly awaiting the feast to come.

Venue Score - 7.3/10.

Everything is beautifully presented and we get the 'doms in quick smart. There are a lovely selection of chutneys and accompaniments to sample, good start.

With Bhaji's on the menu we line up enough for all to sample. They come in the crunchy ball style which tasted good but we're a little dense and clawing in the middle. Not bad but only deserving of a Bhaji score - 7/10.

With a horde of CURRYBONDers I won't go George R R Martin and spend the next 400 words explaining each course in elaborate detail. Suffice to say we ordered a whole bunch of curries, naans and rice. It all looked delicious with some splendid balti dishes and some excellent sculpted carrot. Overall the flavours were good, it was relatively mild, a little greasy but all pretty tasty. The Chicken Tikka Masala was surprisingly sweet but nice and creamy.

Food Score - 7.9/10.

Cobras were on offer and it's not long before the table is littered with empty vessels suffused with the essence of lager. This certainly adds to the bill which comes in at £196.90 which is £19.69/CURRYBONDer. So on the pricier end of the range, but we certainly don't feel overcharged.

Value Score - 7.2/10

Especially when not only do we get another plate of after 8s but all the female CURRYBONDers are presented with a single red rose, nice touch Samrat!

Overall Score - 7.7/10.

With the curry coma calling, the CURRYBONDers begin to disperse after a thoroughly enjoyable Bank Holiday CURRYBOND.

CURRYBOND #17 Samrat Tandoori + Goldeneye scores 7.8/10.

CURRYBOND will return in Yhaal House + Tomorrow Never Dies.

CURRYBOND #16 Kolam + License to Kill

The Curry Leg

We're past half way but the finish line is at least another two Bond's away...CURRYBOND fatigue was starting to set in with some, not least the mug who thought a bi-weekly blog post about eating a curry and watching a Bond film was a good idea. But with the wheat separated from the chaff, the cream risen to the top and men certainly sorted from the boys we commenced CURRYBOND #16 with those hardened CURRYBONDers.

Our venue is Kolam. One of those that certainly fits into the often-overlooked category on Tooting High street. It's close to Tooting Bec and proudly advertises itself as South Indian. We kick things off relatively promptly and take our seats in a comfortable setting, with cushioned seats and tablecloths! We're also greeted by perhaps the smiliest waiter/Maitre D so far.

Venue Score - 6.2/10.

The starters commence. Finally an onion bhaji on offer and not just that, there are two other bhaji varieties available! We sample an onion and an aubergine as well as a good stack of poppadoms. Unfortunately the variety isn't quite matched by quality as we are presented with two plates of brown mis-shapen discs that most closely resemble those potato smilies Jamie Oliver spent his adult life trying to eradicate.

Bhaji score - 3/10.

The mains on offer have a familiar air with many a South Indian establishment under our belts we're now experienced connoisseurs of the sub-continent. We plump for Goan Chicken, King Prawn Kurma, Lamb Kurma, Chicken Keerai, Chicken Masala, Lamb Bhuna and a Special Masala Dosai. We're excited, hungry and lagered up with bottles of Cobra....we wait...a while. Then finally our mains arrive with Pilau rice and Garlic Naans. The curry is good, pretty tasty but everything is a similar shade of deep red. Over the past 15 curries I have come to realise that if all the curries look alike they probably taste pretty similar, as was the case with Kolam. The naan was also quite disappointing, lacking garlic and too crunchy.

Food score - 6.9/10.

Approaching 9pm I'm not feeling good about the number of CURRYBONDers that will maintain consciousness throughout the Bond leg...We get the bill after a bit of a struggle attracting Mr. Smiley which comes in at £116.55 that's £16.65/CURRYBONDer. Not bad value considering beers were on offer.

Value Score - 6.1/10.

Kolam therefore suffers from a similar plight to many a Tooting curry establishment, it's good but you could walk 5 minutes spend £10 less and probably be happier with your evening.

Overall Score - 6.7/10

 

The Bond Leg

It's late. Possibly the latest start to a Bond leg after a short bus trip to The Gorringe. Two CURRYBONDers didn't even make the journey and there are yawns a plenty. Let's hope Timmy Dalton's second and final effort at the Bond franchise can maintain our attention.

We kick things off at a wedding. Who's wedding? None other than Bond's CIA chum Felix Leiter. You would be forgiven for not recognising him straight away as we are on our seventh different Felix! And (spoiler alert) that's before he turns into a black man...

All is well until Felix decides to do a little DEAing on his special day and hops in a chopper with Bond to apprehend our bad guy, Franz Sanchez best known I think as one of the FBI Johnsons in Die Hard. We're also introduced to Bond girl number 1, Sanchez' girlfriend who's only role seems to be lounging half naked in beds, towels, sheets etc. Chase ensues, bad guy escapes in private jet until look-out! Bond's been on a fishing holiday and wants to try out his latest casting technique with a helicopter!

Bad guy hooked. Bond and Felix parachute back to the church in time for the wedding, skills. And...titles, which is another great 80s Bond theme provided by Gladys Knight.

Back to the action and bad guy Sanchez is on his way to the clink until he bribes anyone in earshot with $2million and before you know it he's being escorted out of his prison car, underwater by divers, to safety. That's one efficient escape plan. He quickly takes his revenge on poor Mr and Mrs Leiter with the aid of chief henchman, a rather lithe and youthful Benecio Del Toro. They kidnap Felix, murder Mrs Felix and start feeding him to sharks! Jesus, this new Bond is brutal! Who needs Daniel mega-pecks, bring back Dalton!

Bond discovers said vengeful acts courtesy of a rather pithy murder note and gets mad. Really mad.

He gets summoned by M after some mild vigilantism and is told to let it go. But Bond is mad! Remember...no dice boss man, Bond quits MI6! License to Kill revoked! Bond legs it after getting shot at by British agents.

To be honest the next roughly hour and a half consists mainly of Bond chasing around Panama after Sanchez and his drug baron antics.

He meets this girl, and...ya know..........

This guy's head explodes.

Q wears a moustache.

This truck drives on its side!

That's pretty much all you need to know. Needless to say bad guy dies, drugs get blown up, Bond bones the girl and numerous CURRYBONDers fall asleep...

The Dalton era therefore goes out with a strong start, some fun action, good Bond girls but a healthy chunk of tedium in the middle. License to Kill scores:

Girls n Gadgets - 7.0/10

Cheese - 3.8/10

Action - 7.4/10

Overall - 7.0/10

CURRYBOND #16 gets a total score of 6.9/10.

CURRYBOND will return in Saravaanah Bhavan + Goldeneye

CURRYBOND #15 Vijaya Krishna + The Living Daylights

The Curry Leg

Fourteen CURRYBONDs in and the strain is beginning to show.

Petty distractions such as holidays, jobs, other friends even other restaurants that don't serve curry!...whilst these glitzy trinkets have tempted some of the weak willed CURRYBONDers those true to the cause plough on....that or we've got nothing better to do on a Tuesday evening...

Our Curry gathering is somewhat more intimate this time therefore. But in CURRYBOND you never know when you might stumble upon the greatest curry Tooting has to offer.

Our venue, which hopes to reach for the heights of the CURRYBOND leaderboard, and topple Dosa N Chutney, is Vijaya Krishna. Chosen in 2015 by former Tooting MP, now Mayor of London and generally top Tooting bloke, Sadiq Khan as best curry in Tooting for the annual Tiffin Cup. So with a top endorsement expectations were high.

Vijaya Krishna is not in the heart of the curry corridor, situated along the Mitcham Road it certainly stands out with a clean, cream exterior and classy signage. It's certainly benefitted from a relatively recent make-over. As we take our seats the overriding impression is this is a proper restaurant. Welcoming staff, cosy interior, other patrons. Good stuff.

Venue score - 9.3/10.

We're back in South India for the curry on offer, but with our limited numbers we choose our dishes carefully. Starters are, the now regular, Prawn Puuri and thank the Lord we can re-open the Bible with a portion of Bhajis. The Puuri is puffy and the Bhajis are crunchy, tasty and hot, rewarded with a Bhaji Score of 9/10.

Next up comes the curry. The selection is good, a nice combination of classic options as well as some previously frequented South Indian specials. The CURRYBONDers plump for Lamb Bhuna, Butter Chicken and after some Masala based confusion Chiken Tikka. We partner up with some parathas and a pilau rice. It is all, frankly, delicious. The Chicken Tikka is charred and has a deep Tikka orange spice which is juicy and tender. The Bhuna is deep and spicy, mild but incredibly moorish and the Butter Chicken is rich and creamy. After close to 100 curry dishes sampled to date, you come to recognise the real curry champions. The difference it seems, to my amateur curry palate, is the depth and the complexity of the spices, without swimming in butter and stinging with salt. It's safe to say Vijaya Krishna hits the mark.

Food Score - 9.0/10.

Perhaps the greatest compliment to the food on offer comes when we achieve the as yet thought unachieveable...we clean our plates!

With bellies comfortably full and a timely finish for the Bond leg our bill comes in at £51.50 minus the tip which was added automatically so an upper end £17.17/CURRYBONDer but with beers included as well as free after eights with the bill! The value was good.

Value Score - 7.7/10.

Classy exterior, welcoming service, blinding Bhaji's delicious curry and Cobras on offer there are zero complaints. Even the toilets get the thumbs up from Rimmsy. Our CURRYBONDers are happy, and duly reward Vijaya Krishna with the highest score to date.

Overall Score - 9.2/10.

Vijaya Krishna therefore sails straight to the top of the leaderboard approaching 2/3 of the way through the CURRYBOND adventure, this could be an unassailable lead. Clearly Sadiq, you have good taste!

As we make our way to the Bond leg we get half way down the road before remembering to document the Curry leg...whoops.

 

The Bond Leg

We're back to The Gorringe and pick up one more CURRYBONDer for the first instalment of the Timothy Dalton era, The Living Daylights.

Things kick off in Gibraltar, and after a full on Doctor Who-esque regeneration from eye brow twerking Englishman to significantly younger, suave Weshman, Dalton Bond needs some training. What better way than some paintball fun on the cliff tops until, hang on, that guy isn't firing pink splodges, he's knocking off so many double O agents they'll soon be digging out the single O's! Bond catches on, chase ensues bish bash bosh, credits.

The excellent 80s era Bond themes continue with a punchy little dittie from Swedish pop Gods A-Ha. The accompanying titles are a little dull...hmm let's hope that's not a recurring theme...

Next up on Bond's to do list is sniper protection duty in Bratislava, some Russian bloke is defecting to the Brits...except he's not really...and there's this sniper trying to kill him...except she's not really, she's his girlfriend...and what he really wants is money from this drug deal in Afganistan, with diamonds, to sell to this American bloke...for weapons...to give to the Russians...confused? Welcome to the plot for The Living Daylights. Safe to say it's close to impossible to figure out what's going on. What we do know is Bond doesn't kill the hot cellist sniper because this is a new, compassionate, charismatic Bond for the 80s, I'm sure he'll be busting out his tie-dye in no time.

Rather than breaking into her hotel room, pouring himself a drink and waiting for our Bond girl to unzip her dress, Tim Bond gets to know her, takes her to the fare, smiles at her! And not in that creepy, notch-on-the-bedpost way...After seven Roger Moore Bond films, this is unsettling. It's not long before he whisks off young Kara to the slopes for some classic Bond ski chasing action. However, we've had skis, snowboards, time for something different, let's try Cello case boarding!

Meanwhile, amidst our selection of bad guys who might not be, including a KGB general who looks suspiciously like an axe wielding dwarf, we have our henchman, Necros. Destined to meet a sticky end at the hands of John McLean, he spends his time in the Bond Universe dressing up like a milkman, playing 80s music on his Walkman and throwing explosive milk bottles!

Soon enough Bond gets captured and shipped off to our exotic locale for the evening Afganistan, before you know we messed it all up and that...turns out it looked pretty nice.

After escaping said capture, Bond meets local Afgan freedom fighter Kamran Shah, who takes pity on poor Timothy and puts him up with his Mujahadeen buddies. Of course this impressive looking good guy can't just be Afgani, so obviously he's been educated at Oxford and quickly shifts to being a proper Bond posho.

We then enter the overly familiar boring, seemingly endless, confrontation of good guys and bad guys in the plains of Afganistan phase. Which begins to look increasingly like The Last Crusade, good job John Rhys Davis isn't here to ride off with the good guy, oh wait...

Fortunately we get a fun action sequence which sees Bond and bad guy clinging on for dear life to a net filled with drug parcels hanging out the back of an airborne freight plane! It's certainly a pretty hairy looking stunt especially when there's a Cellist at the controls!

Inevitably Bond dispatches the henchman, escapes the plummeting plane...in a jeep! Then pops off for a weird epilogue where he takes care of the 8th or 9th villain which feels like the director just forgot to kill him first.

All in all, we're left pretty exhausted, and not in a good way. In a please make it stop already way...Not a killer start to the latest Bond re-boot then.

The Living Daylights scores

Girls n Gadgets - 4.6/10

Cheese - 1.3/10

Action - 5.0/10

Overall - 4.3/10

Therefore, a champion curry and a bog standard Bond...All in all CURRYBOND #15 scores 6.7/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Kolam + License to Kill.

CURRYBOND #14 Dawat + A View to a Kill

The Curry Leg

 It seems CURRYBOND is not immune to the lure of warmer climes, not sitting in a darkened room watching aged knights of the realm and eating things that don’t set your insides aflame...Summer claimed a number of CURRYBONDers. We are therefore slightly depleted from our previous record showing.

Our latest venue for the Curry Leg comes in solid curry territory, half way between Tooting Broadway and Bec. Dawat stands out amongst the Lidls and Aldis of the high street with a bold sign and shiny interior. I arrive on my lonesome, with no CURRYBONDers in sight, just held up on the tube or did they get run-over chasing that pesky Squirtle across the road…My time alone gives me the chance to ponder the menu on offer. Fortunately there is a hard copy as well as the entire selection also presented on a display above a cafeteria style counter which is a hive of activity. The venue therefore is shiny, bold and busy, the toilets however were best avoided so I hear.

 Venue Score - 5.8/10

 Fortunately I'm soon joined by two of the most reliable CURRYBONDers, Rimmsy and Jobbers, back to make up for his first CURRYBOND no-show. On a pleasant Summers day we search around for a refreshing Cobra to quench our curry thirst, but alas, Dawat is yet another completely dry restaurant. As a few more attendees flow in we get our Lassi on and line up the starters.

Again no Bhajis, the bible is missing whole chapters now! We plump for Pakoras, Samosas and Puuris along with a stack of Poppadoms. There's mild concern as we see our starters collected from the mounds kept behind the counter. Our fears, it seems, were justified with all of the deep fried, supposed to be crunchy bits, being soggy, not very hot and generally a bit nasty. Fingers crossed then for the mains...when we're able to order...the service is a little tardy. The restaurant does fill up, but it's not heaving, so excuses were few.

Our curries looked promising, certainly appear more fresh than the first course. I plump for a Degi Methi Gosht which is thick with spinach and spicy gravy and decent hunks of lamb. The Chicken Tikka Masala is good, but after a dozen previous reference curries this certainly doesn’t stand out. Accompaniments were good and the ever bold George's Legacy persuades Rimmsy to partner up on a Chilli Naan which arrives packed with green flecks of vicious scovillebusting surprises...needless to say we ordered more lassis. The verdict therefore is mixed, and reflected in a fairly average

Food Score - 5.8/10.

We are left with the inevitable curry remains and for the first time a curry doggy bag is called for and George's Legacy goes away with a mixed curry package ready for a Curry leg re-run for lunch the next day.

The bill arrives and is somewhat unhelpfully listed with random numbers...seems about right and comes to £86.76 which was £17.35/CURRYBONDer. Considering we were on lassis rather than lagers, it's relatively steep.

Value Score - 4.8/10.

After some disappointing starters, decent curries with a hefty price tag Dawt receives an

 Overall Score - 5.6/10.

Dawat therefore joins it's high street cafeteria neighbour Lahore Karahai at the bottom of the leaderboard.

 

The Bond Leg

So with a smaller cohort of CURRYBONDers and no word from The Gorringe, we go for a retro Bond leg and rock up to casa la Chairman for some furniture rearranging and homemade Martinis.

Our film is A View to a Kill...Now, the Bond franchise is certainly not shy about challenging titles (Quantum of what!?...we'll get to that…) but if you just take a second to think about it you'll soon realise it's a grammatical disaster area. Let’s hope the film is more thought through…

 We kick off with another literal cold open with a ski chase, classic Bond fare.  After some fun times skiing action Bond comes a bit of a cropper and is left on one ski, no probs he picks up a single giant ski and proceeds to invent snow boarding accompanied by a beach boys sound track! After a glide across an icy lake, James dives into an odd looking iceberg which handily doubles as an MI6 funded sex-sub with complimentary blonde bombshell...I'm going to miss the Roger Moore era.

The titles come with another iconic 80s Bond theme provided by Duran Duran, so far so James Bond.

We're back in Blighty with the MI6 big hitters and Q is providing us with his best explanation of the plot to come. Bond came back from his Siberian sex triumph with a microchip...they're all the rage these days...this particular fella was made by Zorin Industries, and if they're like any other xxx Industries from the Bond annals it's a safe bet they're manufacturing bad vibes as well as Mcguffins.

So it's off to visit Mr bad guy, Max Zorin played by genuine actor bloke Christopher Walken. We're treated to the grandest of grand French cribs, Chateau de Chantilly, who's stables are more elaborate than a special episode of Cribs set in Buckingham Palace, hosted by Michael Jackson. A host of horse based action ensues including a whole series of events around doping race horses which subsequently appears to be completely meaningless for the plot other than an incredible microchip which has been developed to dispense drugs to horses...high tech.

We're also introduced to a rare female henchperson, Mayday, played by the ever angular Grace Jones. Who's wardrobe seems to consist of lycra body suits and 50 foot scarves which can only be worn wrapped around every limb. Her first job is to infiltrate the ever popular French butterfly dangling show in the Eiffel Tower and murder some French dude with a sharp butterfly on a fishing rod...innovative. A chase on the tower ensues and Mayday makes her escape by basejumping into gay Paris.

Back to the seamlessly taught plot and it's revealed that Zorin is in the employ of the recurring KGB Kingpin General Gogol. Alas, it seems roided up horses aren't Max's only passion, it appears the dastardly plot is another one for economics fans. Aboard the first of a number of blimps in this film, the plot is revealed to be flooding Silicon Valley by inducing giant earthquakes and thus jacking up the price of his horse spiking microchip business. I guess it has some good geological superweapon elements…

We then enter the slightly boring, incoherent section which is familiar theme in Bond films where stuff happens, there's a chase in a fire engine, Bond hooks up with a really hot Geologist called Sutton...not another one...and arrives at our showdown spot, a mine. Well I guess if you’re not going to put it on top of a mountain you may aswell go underground. Amidst the mining, and the fighting, and the tension Zorin double-crosses poor Mayday and she's left with Jimmy B to go kaboom on a shit tonne of dynamite! As the mine starts to flood our new pals manage to extract the detonator only to be thwarted by a dodgy mine cart! Must be left over from Temple of Doom...the set certainly seems to be. Mayday completes her rapid conversion to good guy by sacrificing herself as the real bad guy escapes...in another blimp.

Bond however has seen his fair share of escaping villains on a variety of aircraft, the blimp I feel is probably the easiest to catch up to and grab on. Our next sequence sees Zorin try to dislodge his pesky spy hanger-on by flying into the Golden Gate bridge. Bond hops off...I mean it's a blimp...and ties the ship to the landmark. We then get some hand to axe fighting action which sees Bond dumping bad guy off the bridge to consider his blimp based poor life choices as he plummets to his end.

Things are tied up with a very odd robot dog piloted by Q who's only purpose appears to be to spy on Bond and Ms Sutton having some shower fun. Someone really needs to check what goes on in Q branch these days.

So we draw the Roger Moore era to a close with a middling Bond with some nice iconic moments and characters but ultimately felt very long, pretty confusing and ultimately a bit of let down...despite the blimps.

A View to a Kill scores

Girls n Gadgets - 6.1/10

Cheese - 7.3/10

Action - 7.0/10

Overall - 6.7/10

 

Giving us an overall score for CURRYBOND #14 of 6.1/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Vijaya Krishna + The Living Daylights

CURRYBOND #13 Chennai Dosa + Octopussy

It had been an interesting week.

Some bloke from Eton had a row with his other mates from Eton and decided the best way to make amends was to ask the entire country what they thought about Europe...Turns out 52% of them said Fuck it! Why not, sounds like a good idea, lets bugger off, all those other Eton blokes are behind it, plus that nice Russian judo guy and the American Alan Sugar...This made the bloke from Eton sad as his mates kicked him out of his crib! It was pretty nice as well, free car, bodyguards, walking distance to at least three Prets. Meanwhile the rest of the world (i.e. Bankers/gamblers) decided we hadn't had a good self inflicted financial crisis for ages. When all these people voted they didn't realise they were actually signing their beloved Britain to a decade of economic S&M with France repeatedly slapping Britain in the balls with a frozen string of garlic and only that German woman who looks like Anne Widdecombe knows our safe word!

Fortunately CURRYBOND carries on. In fact it flourishes! With our second weekend outing we see the biggest curry leg to date. We welcome as ever, a diverse and inclusive CURRYBOND cadre, highlighting that even though some people clearly want to get back to our real British identity of Normans...no wait they're French...I mean Saxons....hang on weren't they kind of German...fine the Viking guys...nope Swedish...Frickin' Romans then!...Viva L'Italia!

CURRYBOND welcomes friends from all nations.

The Bond Leg

So as we look set to enjoy another Saturday afternoon Bond showing we rock up to The Gorringe eagerly anticipating another entertaining ride through the world of the Roger Moore Bond film.It seems the Roger era has an all or nothing approach with both the highest highs (Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker) and the lowest lows (Live and Let Die, For You Your Eyes Only) in equal measure.

Our cold open kicks things off in Cuba? Spain? Mexico? Anyway somewhere Latinny. Bond is undercover sneaking around with those pesky Russians again until, whoops, caught again. Rog manages to wriggle away thanks to some sexy sidekick and he hops in the latest in miniature getaway vehicles, a mini jet! That actually flies and gets shot at, it's all excellent plane chasing action topped off by Bond landing the mini-jet and pulling up to a petrol station..."fill her up"...and credits.

Title sequence is a little disappointing. The theme "An all Time High" is nice enough but certainly doesn't hold up amongst the best. Next up is our first, but certainly not our last clown based action. Said clown is on the run with our first henchman in hot pursuit. One of twin circus knife throwers who stick our clown on the run before he takes a dive in the river. Krusty somehow manages to make it to his local embassy and drops off a rather nice Faberge egg, our Mcguffin for the next couple of hours.

Bond is soon whisked off on his latest adventure to track down, or switch around, or do something with this fancy egg in India! Finally, CURRYBOND comes home to the sub-continent! Will Bond tuck in to a lovely Tikka Masala? Sadly not, our only reference to spicy nirvana comes when James chucks a wad of cash at his friendly local tuk tuk driver and quips "that should keep him in curry for a few weeks..." Alas it seems any curry reference must be marinated in racism to make it to an 80s bond script.

All this comes amidst an excellent chase through the streets of Delhi with local MI6 recruit and therefore certain to meet a grisly end, Vijay, who loves a spot of tennis. So much so, he seems to use his racket as his primary weapon resulting in a back-and-forth tennis match-esque chase scene. It's no pigeon double take but it comes close.

Bond makes his escape and turns up in Q-branch. Again fully equipped, just it seems, to meet Bond on his mission...someone should really look into streamlining their logistics, did you really need to bring the spikey slamming door with you? Bond gets bored with the tracking device in the egg business and wanders off to play with the latest in boob zooming hardware, which looks suspiciously like an iWatch...what were Apple waiting for for 20 years!

After an intro with our villain Kamal Khan and a roll around with the standard double crossing Bond girl Magda, James is back in sneaky spy mode and needs to infiltrate a floating palace in search of the Octopussy cult. What better way to sneak across a body of water than a submarine masquerading as a crocodile! I just want to know how the hell he gets in and out!

So after a good chunk of the way in we finally meet Octopussy played by the charming Maud Adams, who for a Bond girl, is refreshingly close to Sir Roger's actual age so it doesn't feel like he's trying to absorb her life force when they kiss. Turns out she's not such a bad lass, just a rich girl trying to make her way in the world smuggling jewellery and running circuses, same old, same old.

Bond tracks down her circus and our Mcguffin suddenly takes a Cold War turn and gets substituted for a nuke! And it's in the circus! Think of the mess with all those elephants and clowns...Queue our penultimate action sequence when Bond is racing against time to defuse said nuke, pops into a trailer to really embrace the circus theme and emerges in full clown regalia. But he's a sad clown :( he's got a nuke to defuse don't you know! He finally tracks it down and with 1 second to spare, success! Timed that costume change to perfection, I mean if you'd just left off the red nose or the clown shoes might have been a bit more comfortable...

Our final confrontation comes in a classic hilltop castle lair which Octoussy infiltrates with the crafty use of circus performers, including catapulting with an elephant...so you walked the elephant up the hill...oh never mind...A fun packed fight scene ensues with trapezes, strong women, and any number of circus fight japes, including Q getting in on the action with a hot air balloon attack!

Bad guy escapes in a plane and Bond decides to hang on for dear life. We then get a mid-air fight scene which looks scarily realistic in some shots. See Tom Cruise, Jimmy Bond has been doing this shit for decades!

Inevitably Bond escapes with Octopussy, bad guy crashes into a mountain and Bond celebrates with his lovely on her sex yacht...all is well in the Bond Universe.

Overall the CURRYBONDers are pretty happy with this entry, a lovely visit to India, some excellent gadgetry and more clown/circus based high jinx than you're ever likely to see in a spy thriller. Octopussy scores

Girls n Gadgets - 8.0/10

Cheese - 8.0/10

Action - 7.8/10

Overall - 8.1/10.

 

The Curry Leg

Our committed CURRYBONDers, after a lovely afternoon with Roger Moore, wander up towards Tooting Bec and liaise with the more casual of our cadre at The Wheatsheaf for a cheeky pint before the curry beckons across the road at Chennai Dosa.

Our numbers swell and by the time we take our seats there are a monstrous 14 CURRYBONDers eager for some spicy treats! Our venue is nice enough, comfy seats, light and airy. We get some fellow diners filing in throughout the evening creating a nice atmosphere.

Venue Score - 6.0//10.

The menu on offer looks good, and as the name suggests Dosas are prevalent. You could spend the rest of your days sampling the variety of crispy Indian pancakes on offer and many a CURRYBONDer dive in. With 14 orders flying in around the table I don't have the memory or receipt to help me recall all of our order. Suffice to say we selected a crap load of dosas, curries, pooris, oothappams, parathas and rice. The number of actual curries on offer is fairly limited to a handful of quite similar looking dark brown dishes with either chicken of lamb. The service is a bit sporadic but considering the number of CURRYBONDers we don't hold them to account even when there is widespread order vs curry confusion. The food overall is very tasty, my hot masala dosa in particular was a highlight with delicious chutneys and samba with the dosa coated in a searingly hot chilli paste. Very hot, but very good. The curries are good but not great.

Food Score - 6.8/10.

With curry remains piling high across the table we sit back and survey the damage. Good sized portions certainly and another alcohol free dinner. The bill comes in at £177 which is  £12.64/CURRYBONDer, so good value but not the cheapest we've seen. It's worth pointing out Chennai Dosa is cash only but thankfully they warn you with a helpful sign on the door as you enter.

Value - 7.4/10.

So the consensus seems to be a solid curry venue, probably best suited to a lunchtime dosa rather than a curry feast. Chennai Dosa gets an Overall Score - 6.6/10.

With Germany vs Italy beckoning we make our way to the nearest pub to cheer on our native Romans or was it those charming Saxons...I forget well at least England removed themselves from this confusing heritage nice and early...

CURRYBOND #13 gets an overall score of 7.3/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Dawat + A View to a Kill

CURRYBOND #12 Namak Mandi + For Your Eyes Only

The Curry Leg

We're half way there. We're halfway through the year. So much curry so many Bond films but so much still to come.

Our latest outing is what CURRYBOND is all about. Namak Mandi sits close to Tooting Bec and sandwiched behind a bus stop and between the myriad of pound shops in Tooting for all your plastic mop needs. You would be forgiven for walking past Namak Mandi not realising the potential spicy delights waiting for you inside. But for CURRYBOND all are welcome.

We therefore approach our venue with mild trepidation and cautious optimism in equal measure. From the entrance Namak Mandi certainly looks more takeaway than restaurant, but we pass the chef manning the grill and take our seats in the somewhat dim area towards the back. There is apparently a soft furnished seating area upstairs but not having been to yoga class in a good 12 years my knees decide they need proper chairs. There's not a great deal of "vibe" with a handful of other patrons appearing so overall the venue scores come in a little low.

Venue score - 4.0/10.

Nonetheless, we press on with our ordering and get stuck into the menu on offer. It arrives with a thud, an impressive wooden slate surely concealing a treasure trove of curry delights. The first page, a laminated affair looking like your average takeaway. Next page, hmm nice picture from the orient, then another and another...no more menu then. So just the one page in our wooden compendium and therefore not a great deal of choice on offer. Six grilled dishes, four curries, five veggies dishes and some common sides. As we have seven CURRYBONDers due around the table we say screw it, let's have one of everything!

On order then we have, the mixed grill (Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Lamb Chops, Lamb Kofta), Lamb Karahi, Charsi Chicken Karahi, Chicken Curry, Charsi Chicken Tikka Masala. Unfortunately no bhaji for the latest verse of the bible but we line up a couple of naan and a pilau rice dish which turns out to be huge and hides a secret, succulent joint of lamb beneath!

The mixed grill is ok, a little dry all round. The curry however is very tasty. The Karahi come in proper steel dishes the chicken is served for two and is well spiced with tender pieces. The Tikka Masala is quite sweet, very mild but pretty good. The highlight however comes when the naan arrives. We get two metal stands with giant naan breads hanging offwhich I expected to pipe up ala Mighty Boosh..."not you Naan Bread!". So generally we're pretty happy with our limited curry selection. Namak Mandi gets a

Food Score - 6.7/10.

With just five portions of curry and one giant rice between seven we actually finish the majority of the food on offer! That being said the portions are good. There are also no drink drinks on offer again so our bill comes in at a ridiculously reasonable £58.85 that's just £8.41 per CURRYBONDer!

Value Score - 8.3/10.

So to sum up Namak Mandi, I certainly wouldn't choose it for a date night, but for a hardened curry veteran this is certainly worth a visit. Namak Mandi gets an

Overall Score - 6.6/10.

 

The Bond Leg

After Moonraker's space lasers I feel we reached peak cheese in the franchise. History suggests that we tend to get an adjustment by the Broccolis when Bond stretches the limits of plausibility. These adjustments are perhaps necessary but often implemented with the subtlety of blind man putting up a mirror with a sledgehammer...something's probably going to get broken.

Our first indication that Bond is going back to his more brutally serious roots is with a visit to his dead wife's grave...downer! Fortunately on the helicopter ride on the way back things pick up. Look out it's Blofeld! Haven't seen him for a while, he was always a good baddie...hang on...why is Bond...oh really...down the...ok...

So turns out someone else owned the rights to the Blofeld character so the film makers decide to kill off their most famous villain in the first 5 minutes by not referencing him then dumping him unceremoniously down a chimney...just to make a point. Well I'm glad they included everyone else in the joke.

The titles kick in and we're treated to one of the most underrated theme songs provided by Sheena Easton. In fact it's probably the only thing that stuck in the mind once we left For Your Eyes Only.

Our plot for the evening is a classic Bond trope. There's this thing which is really important, it gets nicked, Bond has to figure out who nicked it, get it back and kill said nicker. Simple. Soon enough bond is joined by a ravishing sidekick, who on this is occasion is less of the "Oh James" type and more like a vengeful Katniss Everdeen. Melina Havelock is on a crossbow killing spree after her parents are strafed down on a rather lovely yacht in the Med before she bumps into Mr. Bond.

With Bond girl in tow, Sir Rog heads to Northern Italy and links up with local Italian agent Luigi, yes that's right. Who points him to our villain for the evening Kristatos, he's a fairly uninspiring presence, particularly as we just killed off the cat stroking King of the bad guys. The potential was clearly there, this is Julian Glover who played bad-Holy Grail-choosing Donavon from Indiana Jones and General Veers, one of the cabal of British bad guys on the Death Star in Empire Strikes Back! These days he cruises the halls of King's Landing as Grand Maester Pycelle and is joined on screen by a rather lithe looking Charles Dance clearly honing his evil Lannister ways. British thesps really do make the best bad guys.

Mr Villain's main aim however seems to be pushing an American ice skating protegee he's "mentoring", already a bit odd, onto Bond. Bibi, portrayed as young-ish, then throws herself on Sir Rog, now well into his 50s and therefore feels even more odd...fortunately Jimmy Bond, for once, rejects the advances and moves on to every other female character in the film.

We're soon treated to some action. A variety of Winter sports chase scenes including skiing, ice hockey and bobsledding on skis and motorbikes! It's a collection of pretty amazing set pieces but all pretty confusing who, what and why it's all happening...

The remainder of the film however is somewhat hazy...after a recent visit to Korea (yes the good one) my body clock was still closer to 5am than the early evening. The less than engaging plot doesn't really help and therefore I subsequently drift in and out of consciousness...

But clearly some exciting music kicks in and I'm back! Bond is wandering down a beach, beauty in hand, not that one...or that one but this one. Until WHAM!! Dune buggy attack! In one of the most brutal stunts we've seen so far said beauty gets run down my Tywin Lannister, damn he's evil!

We scoot forward to our denouement and it's another evil lair on something high. This time we're at a Greek monastery atop a rocky pillar. Right James better bust out that helicopter in a suitcase, or that jet pack or just plain old helichopper...nah Bond fancies some rock climbing. The filmmakers then decide we need to watch the rock climbing...in silence...ooo there's another crampon...then a carabiner...oops he almost fell...and on, and on. Needless to say the curry coma claimed a number of victims.

Soon enough bad guy is dead, the Mcguffin is recovered...then destroyed and Bond is inevitably with his Bond girl on a sex boat when his congratulatory call comes in from MI6, no wait, from the PM. Oh dear...we're treated to a horrendous 5th rate sketch comedy Margaret Thatcher + Dennis speaking to a parrot...those cheesy shackles seem a little harder to shake off than planned.

For Your Eyes Only therefore has few redeeming features, no classic Bond moments, no classic characters just a stonking theme tune. It scores

Girls n Gadgets - 3.9/10

Cheese - 6.1/10

Action - 4.6/10

Overall - 4.6/10

So a middling curry and pretty deep trough in the Bond schedule gives CURRYBOND #12 an total score of 5.6/10.

CURRYBOND will return in Chennai Dosa + Octopussy

CURRYBOND #11 Spice Village + Moonraker

The Curry Leg

It was the end of May, we were in England...it was obviously cold and wet. So even though all CURRYBOND venues should be within walking distance we lined up a couple of cars for our first CURRYBOND convoy! Seeing as our venue for this week is in the upper reaches of Tooting very much in Bec territory, we were happy to avoid the 20 min walk to The Gorringe in British "Summertime".

10 CURRYBONDs down, it finally happened, recognition. Jobbers, first to arrive was warmly greeted by the patrons of Spice Village with a "welcome, we recognised you from the website", and he wasn't even wearing his I Heart CURRYBOND T-shirt! As the CURRYBONDers filter through we take our place on what can only be described as a curry dais, elevated above the curry masses, clearly reserved for the cream of the curry crop. Special treatment? Maybe? Do we care absolutely not!

Spice Village is certainly a high class curry establishment, plush interior, adorned with chandeliers, purple and cream furnishings, glitz and glamour galore. It has a warming feel and fills up throughout the night creating a lively buzz. The service was quite frankly superb. We should perhaps return to the special treatment, another perk of the curry dais appeared to be our very own waiter, literally attending to our every need.

Whilst this is possibly not the case for every patron to Spice Village seven days a week, again we don't care! It was great! All this adds up to our best curry experience so far with three 10s from the CURRYBONDers! Giving Spice Village and impressive Venue score 9.4/10 However, these CURRYBONDers have been around the balti block and aren't swayed by the pretty packaging, it comes down to the curry. We kick off with a round of popadoms which went down a treat followed by a nice selection of starters, Lamb Samosas, Tandoori Chicken Wings, Chatpata, Seekhe Lahore and our Bhaji's for the evening. We're pretty satisfied, good sounds all round, we're even treated to what can only be a Bond inspired concoction of chilled chickpeas in a Martini glass! The bhaji's were good, sizeable rostis with a good crunch and a warming spice. They get a bhaji score of 7/10.

So far so good, great venue, great service and a solid set of starters. But the real test comes when the curry comes to town. On the menu, Murgh Dopiaza, Balti Murgh, Balti Ghosht, Karahi Jheenga, Ghosht Rogan Josh, Murgh Makhnila, Chicken Tikka Masala, Pilau rice, Garlic Naans and the now mandatory Cheese Naan. Things looked good, some nice authentic Karahi dishes, sizzling hot plates and some good looking garnish. We also got a strong recommendation from our hosts to sample the Fish Masala, whilst none of the CURRYBONDers were feeling overly fishy this evening our hosts were so keen to show off this special we were presented with a portion gratis!

Perfection it seems however is not quite so easy to grasp. Whilst the curry was pretty tasty the general consensus was fine but a little disappointing. A little heavy, a little salty, and not overly distinctive. So falling a little short on the food scores getting a Food score of 6.9/10.

The bill arrives at a fairly lofty120.30 that's17.18/CURRYBONDer and considering Spice Village is another alcohol free establishment this comes in at the top end of curry prices in Tooting. Freebies aside, the portions were good and we certainly left satisfied.

Value score of 6.9/10.

So Spice Village certainly tops the bill if you're looking to impress a curry virgin with the sparkles and soft furnishings but if you're hosting a curry veteran with taste buds scarred from past skirmishes with phaals and vindaloos then they may file the curry fare on offer in the middle of their roller deck.

Spice Village gets and Overall score of 7.9/10.

Overall therefore Spice Village still joins Dosa N Chutney right at the top of the CURRYBOND leaderboard, with a venue score that looks difficult to top.

 

The Bond Leg

It's 1979, just two years after Star Wars hit the screens and changed the face of film themed lunch boxes everywhere. The Bond franchise it seems wasn't immune to the effects, with Moonraker bumping For Your Eyes Only from the running order seemingly because it was somewhat spacey...

We've been riding the Roger roller coaster for a good three films now and it's been fun ride for the most part, occasionally hair raising but always leaving you wanting to get back in the queue. In the pantheon of Bond locations throughout the years it seemed inevitable that we would at some stage end up in the heavens, even if we got a Death Star sized nudge in that direction.

We kick things off therefore in a plane, not quite space, but one step at a time. Bond is causing a ruckus and soon enough he's dumped out the side of his jet...without a parachute, same old, same old. We're treated to one of the best opening sequences so far with essentially a fight scene at terminal velocity with our old friend Jaws! We're also introduced to the overarching tone of the film when Jaws' parachute fails and he proceeds to mitigate his plummeting fate by flapping his arms accompanied by circus music...he then falls onto a circus tent...and survives. That's right we're reaching peak cheese in the Bond legacy.

The plot introduces us to Drax industries who make a living building space shuttles and renting them out to NASA, which sounds ominously familiar to a number of current captains of industry, Bezos, Musk, Branson all with excellent Bond villain credentials! Said space shuttle goes missing and Bond is sent to track down it down. After locating a missing sub last time out Bond's clearly mastering the art of tracking down large forms of transport. He scoots around the globe from California (the home of SpaceX, err I mean Drax industries) to Venice, Rio and the Amazon jungle. As Bond travelogues go it's right up there. He's accompanied by our Bond girl Dr. Holly Goodhead, that's right she has a really good...head probably just because she's really smart in the head. He's also trailed around the world by returning henchman-for-hire Jaws. Who is somewhat less bitey and more comedy sidekick, though still terrifying.

This Bond also sees Q branch deliver. It's a serious gadget fest. We get surreptitious wrist dart guns, gondolas that turn into hovercrafts, poison pens, speedboats with emergency hand-gliders and of course lasers, space lasers! Gadget scores go through the roof.

Fast forward to the final act and Bond finds himself on a space shuttle with the good Dr. Head and it's blast off along with seven other bad guy shuttles packed to the brim with lithemale and female beauties from around the world, because this dastardly plot is about procreation! Sounds fun. Except there's this bit in between when Mr. Villain wipes out all human life from the safety of his space station with his devastating super weapon...orchid juice...Which turns out to be some mega deadly poison that only kills humans.

Bond is inevitably caught pretty soon after he lands and to make his escape and blow up the station he employs the services of the man who's been trying to kill him for a good 400 mins of runtime, Mr bitey, Jaws. One carefully placed word and Jaws turns good guy, now accompanied by his newly found blonde beau with pigtails who is equally mute, but equally charming.

Destruction ensues and Bond is reinforced by the latest addition to the US army space corps equipped with rocket space suits and lasers! A battle in space kicks off, a star war if you will...It doesn't quite have the gloss of the Industrial Light and Magic shaped competition but is still pretty fun.

Bond escapes with the Bond girl and perhaps the most cringeworthy entry to the long list of Bond one-liners delivered by a surprising source, head of Q branch, Desmond Llewelyn. When asked by a typically exasperated M, what is Bond doing in his escape sex pod, "well Sir I think he's attempting re-entry...". I think that sums it up.

With all of the classic Bond hallmarks dialled up to 11 ridiculous gadgets, cheesey one-liners galore, crazy stunts and a fight in space with lasers, the scores can only be good.

Girls n Gadgets - 7.9/10

Cheese - 9.0/10

Action - 8.6/10

Overall - 8.4/10

Placing Moonraker alongside The Spy Who Loved Me at the top of the Bond rankings.

Spice Village + Moonraker gets an overall score of 8.1/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Namak Mandi + For Your Eyes Only.

CURRYBOND #10 Sree Krishna + The Spy Who Loved Me

The Curry Leg

£962, 67 Cobras, 29 Bond girls, 1220 minutes and a flying car later and it's time for CURRYBOND #10.

Our venue for the curry leg of CURRYBOND X is Sree Krishna. Self proclaimed oldest South Indian restaurant in Tooting. Founded in 1973, it's located just across the road from our last outing at the southern most reaches of Tooting High Street, flirting with the boundaries of Wandsworth and handily just around the corner from St George's in case someone orders a particularly ruthless vindaloo.

As we arrive at the scene we're welcomed by a rather forlorn looking Rimmsy who seems to have been ejected by Sree Krishna after I failed to get through to book us a table. Not the best welcome to kick things off...

Fortunately us CURRYBONDers are hardy souls so we make our presence felt and take our place on a rather Arthurian round table. 10 CURRYBONDs in and the wheat is beginning to separate from the chaff with some drop outs and no shows, only those truly committed to the CURRYBOND cause will sip from the holy grail of the Ultimate CURRYBOND Experience come December.

With our knights assembled we take note of our surroundings, which in the grand scheme of our curry odyssey is certainly more Camelot than Croydon...with table cloths, soft furnishings and a rather nice bar.

Venue score 7.2/10

IMG_4715.JPG

Time to peruse the menu and there is certainly a good selection of South Indian specials alongside the core curry staples we know and love. Up first for this curry feast is Poori Masala, Prawn Poori, Cashew Nut Pakoda (aka deep fried nuts) and a couple Onion Bhaji's to enter into the good book of bhaji.

In general it's a good spread, everything tasty, the pooris are certainly fresh. We're treated to another bhaji in the rosti style. It's got a good crunch and nice accompanying raita. Not peak bhaji but pretty good 7/10.

Next up, the main event and we plump for a good mix of specials and classics with Lamb Methi, Chicken Malabar, Prawn Biryani, Goan Fish Curry, King Prawn Chettinadu, Cochin King Prawn Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala. We complement with Chappathi, Parathas and both Pilau and Coconut Rice. Things smell good, they look good, they taste good. That's pretty much all there is though, it's good, not great. So more Stoke than Leicester City, a solid-mid table performer but a place in the Europa League is all this restaurant can hope for.

Food score 7.5/10.

We should however address the service which was friendly enough but pretty slow and took some prompting.  There is a BYOB policy Mon-Thur but apparently if you take advantage of the offer you also have to pay cash...for some reason. This was only revealed at the end of the meal so we had to dig into our wallets to find enough moolah to cover the costs. A heads up at the start would have been nice. It's also just as well it's a BYOB as the bill comes in at £99 that's £16.50/CURRYBONDer. The service charge of 10% was also added on automatically. All this adds up to a disappointing

Value score 4.5/10.

So perhaps more Gawain than Lancelot...Sree Krishna gets an

Overall score 6.7/10.

 

The Bond Leg

We're now comfortably in the Moore era, and I think it's fair to say so far the verdict is one good, one bad...very bad (Baron Samedi aside). So next up, the Spy Who Loved Me, a phrase I fear has been regurgitated on any number of occasions by discarded Bond girls. I guess it's better than that English bloke who slapped me, unzipped my dress and left me with a hangover and a trashed hotel room.

We commence with submarines, and uh oh, they're disappearing, bugger! Soviet ones as well, so we can't even blame the Commies! Bugger! Better get James on the case, what's he up to? Sex in a ski lodge....obviously. He leaves his latest conquest between the sheets and nips out for a quick apres-shag downhill until some disgruntled skiers mistake Bond for the guy who sets the lift pass prices and the shooting begins. We're treated to perhaps the best ski chase so far with some proper pumping Bond action music for once all topped off with Bond skiing off the mountain to reveal his union flag (that's right,  he's not on a boat...) parachute just to confirm his unashamed patriotism. And titles...

Good start! And with a theme tune of "Nobody does it Better" and excellent title sequence full of naked silhouettes twirling around gun barrels and the like things continue in this vain. But, back to the plot and soon enough Bond is off on his travels again. Where haven't we been yet, OOO Egypt, let's do that. So Bond is tracking down some special sub-tracking device and before long he encounters his Soviet counterpart Agent XXX...I'm sure I've seen that on a website somewhere...I mean just something my friend showed me...Whilst the content of those particular films is different, the acting skills of this particular Bond girl are perhaps more suited to the XXX genre. Yes the beautiful Barbara Bach struggles to pull off the threatening KGB agent and instead lands on a stoney faced robotic interpretation.

Things pick up however when resident villain Karl Stromberg sends in his henchman...oh and what a henchman, Jaws! Literally! He has metal teeth and bites a shark to death! Works on so many levels...Richard Kiel has a terrifying unstoppable menace of vampiric Frankenstein's monster. One of the best Bond henchman and surely one of the scariest men ever to wear a duck egg blue suit. An inevitable chase, fight, chase scene ensues around some lovely Egyptian temples culminating in Bond + Bond girl escaping in a van after having the roof ripped off by Jaws!

Let's skip ahead to our next locale Sardina, lovely. Why do they end up in Scotland in Skyfall? It's about time we check out this evenings lair, oh it's a peach. A giant, submersible, alien space ship looking mega dome on legs! 

Masquerading as a research lab...hang on someone tried that before! Bond turns up and obviously bad guy knows exactly who he is and orders his execution, but Bond has just had a delivery. A delivery from Q, in the flesh, it must be good. It's very good. A white Lotus Esprit, but the real magic is revealed once Bond drives straight off the pier. A press of a button and said car turns into a frickin' submarine! Perhaps the most iconic vehicle throughout the Bond series and the only reason why this not-at-all petrol head had a poster of a Lotus Esprit on his bedroom wall when he was 12.

Our next notable event finds our agents aboard a slightly more appropriately sized submarine with their American friends until disaster, eaten by a bigger ship, typical. So basically the You Only Live Twice space shuttle eater but in an ocean. The mariners are taken aboard the sub-munching super tanker and we're nicely set up for agood 'ole mass shootout. Bond promptly escapes, sets free the American chums and gets after the bad guys, again akin to the assault on the space base in You Only Live Twice, with fewer Japanese Scotsman...

The dastardly plot is also revealed by Mr Stromberg and boy is it dastardly. He basically wants to just nuke the world and start up his very own SpongeBob inspired existence underwater...about time we had a proper nut bag! To wrap things up, Bond destroys the subs, shoots bad guy in the face and winds up in an escape pod...in wet clothes...with Anna XXX...and champagne...need I say more.

So we tie things up feeling fully satisfied by our Bond experience. Good bad guy, excellent henchman, excellent lair, logical plot, great action, a submarine car and a pornstar! Ok not really, and to be honest the Bond girl is the only thing holding this Bond film back. CURRYBONDers score

Girls n Gadgets - 6.7/10

Cheese - 8.6/10

Action - 8.6/10

Overall - 8.4/10

So with our highest scoring Bond film to date Sree Kirshna + The Spy Who Loved Me gets and overall score of 7.5/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Spice Village + Moonraker

CURRYBOND #9 Onam + Live and Let Die

This is the redemption CURRYBOND. Both the curry and bond leg have had their chances. Both were victims of the CURRYBOND gods wrath after minor swerves on the course of the CURRYBOND superhighway. But on such an arduous journey through tikkas, bhajis, jet packs, midgets and space lasers we roll with the punches, get back in the saddle and cliche our way back on course.

The Curry Leg

It's back to Kerala for our latest curry leg. Onam, situated at the southern most tip of the curry corridor of Tooting High St, conveniently located around the corner fromCURRYBOND HQ, I have observed this unassuming venue for some time. From the outside it rocks the black and red signage with red and gold curtains, a bold statement, somewhat let down by the biryani lunch special poster in the window. Fortunately inside is a cosy affair resulting in a solid

Venue Score - 7.1/10

As we enter, expecting to take our seats in the often empty at 7pm on a Tuesday restaurant, we are presented with not only one other table of curry patrons but two CURRYBONDers raring to go! Jobbers, clearly humiliated by his late showing in CB#8, and The Banker, who is typically so tardy I assumed he was just turning up for CURRYBOND #8 two weeks late...Kudos to The Banker though, who now moves joint second in the attendance race after a no-show from Shethers.

We're soon joined by a welcome appearance from the Chief Cashier and the ever reliable George's Legacy and Rimmsy. Plenty of CURRYBONDers to get stuck in to some starters, and what starters! CURRYBOND is not specifically tracking starter quality, but if we were, these would go straight to the top of the list. On order were Vegetable Somosas, Poori Chana, Plain Dosa(i), Special Prawn Poori and Ulli Vada (aka onion bhajis). They were all excellent. The bhajis were of the rosti variety accompanied by a lovely raita, crunchy, hot, and moorish. A definite bhaji score of 8/10.

The pooris were puffed up and filled with a delicious prawn curry fare, tasty samosa and a very good dosa, not quite Dosa N Chutney levels but what is...Special mention to the accompanying dips and sauces particularly a heavily minted fella with a kick of chilli which should be mandatory with all deep fried things you put in your mouth.

After feeling pretty good about things we turn back to the menu to sample the serious curry. The options on offer are relatively limited compared to the catalogue of curries often presented to us but we are intrigued by a number of Keralan specials which we decide to dive straight into. Up next came Lamb Rogan, Nadan Kozhi, Nadan Erachi, Nadan Chicken Biryani, Appam and Stew, Chef's Special Aubergine and the closest we could find to the reference a Chicken Madras. We stick with our Keralan decision and go tropical with the sides with garlic and coconut parathas and coconut and pilau rice.

The consensus seems to be ...mmmmm!  That's right who needs a thesaurus when you've got onomatopoeia. BOSH! The curry was excellent, in particular the specials on offer. My Appam and Stew turned out to be this slightly sour, yoghurty, crispy on the outside squidgy in the middle pancake thing shaped like a sombrero, which to be honest I wasn't a huge fan of. It came with a delicious curry "stew" that was sweet, spicy and flavourful. Other curries were more meaty in flavour often with lamb or chicken on the bone. The biryani was giant but equally delicious. Thumbs up all round, resulting in

Food Score - 8.1/10.

There seems to be something about Keralan curries that requires these slightly small colour rimmed bowls. In a previous slightly disappointing venue (see CB#3) this resulted in small portions, fortunately Onam fill these little bowls to the brim with curry so we certainly weren't left hungry! We were back on the Cobra for this outing but no BYOB certainly adds to the bill which came in at £116 equating to £16.57/CURRYBONDer. It is worth pointing out however that there is a 50% off food offer if you have a Tastecard, sadly mine expired last month...We therefore give Onam

Value Score - 7.0/10.

So after many months of dismissing my most local of curry options, Onam has risen from the ashes of obscurity to take its place among the upper end of the Tooting curry elite. Onam gets an

Overall Score - 7.7/10.

 

The Bond Leg

With another daylight finish, we waddle, bellies full, to the Bond Leg HQ, The Gorringe. CURRYBOND makes a sneaky appearance amongst another cinema legacy on show...the force is strong with this one...

We make the most of the cinema snacks on offer, it's posh-corn time! And make our way downstairs and thanks to our hosts new Blu-Ray player all nervousness of another mis-hap is banished, mostly...

The inaugural Roger Moore outing kicks off with a severe absence of the eye-brow waggling master. Instead we're plunged into the world of voodoo!...and Jazz...and murder! We jump around the Caribbean and New Orleans for a variety of jazz infused killings which probably have something to do with the plot, until, titles...

"When you were young and your heart, was an open book..." That's right, possibly the best Bond theme, delivered by Macca and the Mrs, perhaps sets the bar unrealistically high for the rest of the film...We're soon introduced to Sir Rog who sets the tone for his Bond era by lounging half naked after pleasuring an Italian girl, "Oh James!". We're also treated to a tour around Bond's crib. A fascinating insight into secret agent coffee machines which M clearly disapproves of. Espresso Bond!? He must be a half-cap skinny soy vanilla latte man...

Turns out all those murders were secret agents and M is pissed. Bond is sent to find out what happened.

And that, is pretty much the only plot you get for the entire film...

So, where to this time in Bond on tour? Harlem, New Orleans and the Caribbean...obviously! This is the voodoo, Afro, jazz bond! James arrives in New York, and it's probably a good time to address one particular aspect of Live and Let Die, black folk. Now of course Bond films have had black characters in the past, they are typically big fat fisherman who turn out to be some undercover CIA agent who's particularly adept at catching the odd sea bass and transporting James to a secret lair. There hasn't been any overt race issue unless of course you're Asian...but in Live and Let Die almost every other character is black...and they're all bad guys...(except token CIA guy). It seems every black guy in New York not only works for the villain, but also keeps a 2-way radio hidden about their person just in case the most white man in the northern hemisphere turns up. Just when you think he's met a friendly black cabby, he turns on his radio and villainy ensues. One may argue this is a clever fliparoo of the Blaxsploitation films of the 70s (Shaft, Super Fly etc) but to these CURRYBONDers it feels a bit British Empire, a bit off...

On to the typical Bond being stalked around foreign country scenes and we're treated to a wide selection of Bond baddies, they obviously have one thing in common, and it's not hooks for hands...

Soon enough Bond is confronted by Kananga/Mr. Big our villain who is revealed to be BOTH very similar looking men with the aid of a fake face...generally a pretty lack lustre villain, he keeps a pet fortune teller, obvs. That's where Blofeld went wrong, couldn't predict the future! Said fortune teller, tarot card reader, is our Bond girl for the evening, Solitaire (get it...) played by the lovely Jane Seymour. She's very much an "Oh James!" Bond girl, good at looking pretty but not much else. Doesn't take long before Bond decides this beauty needs-a-bedding, and what better way than subterfuge! Hey, beats brute force...

Bond takes time out of the 007ing and nips into the nearest bespoke tarot card shop and picks up a dastardly sexy deck. He plays his lovers card(s) and the train is firmly on its way through the tunnel...

Some other stuff happens and soon enough Bond is back in the clutches of the bad guy, and it's about time he reveals his dastardly plot and refuses to kill Bond. So, this time the idea is to make a shit load of heroin and give it all away...I mean...it's no space laser...and perhaps reinforces the slightly off feel of all these black people making drugs and corrupting the civilised white folk just for the sake of it! Bond is handed over to henchman number 12 who has seen his fair share of Bond films and knows shooting in the face is just not cricket, eaten by crocodiles is much more appropriate.

The now useless Solitaire, because after one night with Bond he knocks the psychic right out of her, is handed off for sacrifice to King of Voodoo, Baron Samedi! It's not clear who bestowed Mr Samedi with his peerage but he certainly makes the most of it with a splendid top hat. He's also one of the more fun characters to shoot in Goldeneye multi-player...bullets go straight through that hat!

We're about half way through at this stage and it's about time for a car chase, or in this case, boat chase. Unfortunately this turns into the most interminably long and boring chase scene experienced thus far. They even change boats half way through, presumably after running out of fuel! There's also the debut of the ridiculous Sgt Pepper, the less said about him the better.

Following this boating bore-fest there are few CURRYBONDers still conscious. Those that are roused by the final confrontation are at least treated to a surprisingly "explosive" ending...certainly the best thing this bad guy did all film.

I think the overall opinion of Live and Let Die is best summed up by some quotes from the CURRYBOND Comments

"CRAP", "racist, again", "dull", "interminable", "BORING!".

The scores therefore for Live and Let Die are

Girls n Gadgets - 4.1/10

Cheese - 5.0/10

Action - 3.2/10

Overall - 3.8/10

So after a promising start the Bond leg really lets down CURRYBOND #9 which gets and overall score of 5.8/10.

 

CURRYBOND will return in Sree Krishna + The Spy Who Loved Me

 

CURRYBOND #8 Al Mirage + The Man with the Golden Gun

CURRYBOND is going big.
One third of the way through the CURRYBOND journey and we welcome a new host of the Bond leg. The Gorringe Park Pub. One of the best pubs in Tooting located next to Tooting station and about 10 mins walk from Tooting Broadway it's definitely worth the trip with fantastic gastro/pub grub on the menu and a number of local beers on offer, the atmosphere is always cosy and welcoming, but that's not the best part...they have a frickin' cinema downstairs! Every night showing a selection of classic films in the evening and kids classics on weekend afternoons. And now, the host of the CURRYBOND Bond leg! This is certainly a change to the established CURRYBOND agenda, I'm sure the CURRYBOND gods have forgiven us for that mis-hap in CURRYBOND #6…


 The Curry Leg
 
The anticipation of the new and improved Bond leg has clearly inspired the CURRYBONDers, we arrive at the agreed earlier kick off to not one but three CURRYBONDers raring to go! The Spring sunshine might have also had something to do with escaping the office on time! Looks like we're odds on for our first daylight curry finish.
 
Our venue for CURRYBOND #8 Al Mirage. Another excellent location at the heart of Tooting High Street, it also sits next door to the more established Mirch Masala of CURRYBOND #4, we'll see how it fares against it's local rival. The early start time doesn’t seem to favour the rest of the Tooting curry masses with unadulterated access to every table in the restaurant...The venue is split over two levels and we're treated to the most elaborate of vertical ascension options with both a spiral staircase and a lift! Now they just need enough patrons to make use of them…
 
Al Mirage gets a venue score of 4.7/10.


 A third of the way in, it seems we should evaluate the front runners for the most prestigious CURRYBOND award for Best Attendance. With a 100% record of 8 full CURRYBONDs is Jobbers, though hot on his heels comes Shethers at 7.5 CURRYBONDs but is the crown beginning to slip, the official start time comes and goes, it seems TFL has betrayed Jobbers...he makes it before the mains to maintain his 100% record but with imminent trips half way around the world will he hold on?
 
We promptly get ordering, a quick glance a the drinks menu disappoints some CURRYBONDers, no alcohol and no BYOB policy, it's our first "dry" curry, thankfully we'll be in a pub in a couple of hours...So it's mango lassies and soft drinks all round, fortunately the mango lassie is delicious, rich and creamy with plenty of tropical cheer. Next up come the starters, Popadoms (obviously), Samosas, Chicken Spring Rolls, Dahi Bhale and Onion Bhajis. They are pretty much all delicious, the Bhajis are a highlight with another entry in the crustacean style, this example is equally crispy, spicy and importantly freshly cooked.
Certainly a contender for best Bhaji, they get a score of 9/10.

The Dahi Bhale, is a curiosity. Ordered by Gills always keen to try new things her face was one of trepidation when what looks like an ice cream sundae arrives at the table. Fortunately it is a savoury affair, consisting predominantly of yoghurt with a dumplingy thing  with some kind of tamarind sauce. The consensus is interesting, but once is enough.

Jobbers makes his entrance just in time to order the obligatory Chicken Jalfrezi, this was accompanied by Lamb Peshwari Gosht, Lamb Bhuna, Butter Chicken, Tikka Lamb Chops and the standard Chicken Tikka Masala. Sides of pilau rice, garlic naan and our second CURRYBOND cheese naan, which is clearly the highlight for one NE based CURRYBONDer...The mains all look good, sizeable portions, vibrant colours and fragrant aromas. The Peshwari Gosht is spicy and moorish with tender chunks of lamb. The CTM has juicy chicken pieces and is certainly tasty but not the best reference CTM we've had. Overall there are positive murmurings all around the table. The consensus is, delicious, the scores are high.
 
Al Mirage gets a food score of 8.1/10.


 So with Roger Moore calling we ask for the bill which comes in at £78.60 that’s just £9.83/CURRYBONDer breaking the £10 barrier is impressive.

Al Mirage gets a Value score of 8.1/10
 
So with only the venues lack of patrons and a no alcohol policy holding it back Al Mirage is an unexpected contender for best Curry, it's neighbours should take note.
 
Al Mirage gets an Overall score of 7.7/10.


The Bond Leg
 
Eager to embrace our new Bond leg venue we hop it sharpish down Mitcham Road to The Gorringe and we are welcomed by the Screen Listings board confirming Live and Let Die, 9pm. Inside we are welcomed by the Gorringe staff where we line up the pre-Bond drinks, this certainly beats moving the furniture round and Martinis in plastic cups!


We make our way downstairs to our new digs. The cinema room is spacious, cosy and with a perfectly proportioned projection screen. There are actual cinema seats, comfy armchairs and retro furniture. It's perfect, almost too good to be true… Our helpful pub manager Paul loads up the disc...somewhere in the sacred halls of CURRYBOND Valhalla the gods shift uneasily on their Karahi thrones...they don’t like change, we know this...their wrath strikes down the Blu-ray player...Live and Let Die was gone…
 
Fortunately Paul had a plan B and emerged with a copy of The Man with the Golden Gun! Take that CURRYBOND Gods, we just went atheist! So minor trauma averted we'll come back to Roger's debut and get stuck into Men and Golden Guns n that.

So to our first introduction to Roger Moore, the man with the best acting eyebrows in Hollywood. But it's not Sir Rog that kicks things off it's his latest nemesis and our villain for the evening Scaramanga! Possibly the greatest named villain of all time, I just want to say it over and over Scara-manga, amazing. Scaramanga played by none other than the future Saruman, Count Dooku and Dracula, King of the bad guys, Sir Christopher Lee. That's right it's a full on Knight of the Realm face off! 

He's hanging out with his trusty pal, Nick-Nack. Who is...a small person, a dwarf...Bond plumps for midget. The film doesn't shy away from reminding you about Mr. Nack's diminutive stature firmly adopting the comedy midget role which is slightly uncomfortable but alongside the continued violence to women and casual racism it's not alone amongst the classic Bond offences. But hey it's the 70, plus he wears a snazzy waistcoat.

In this new Bond era it seems the screen writers have decided that a Bond film should not only have a plot, but the film will tell you what it is before the last five minutes. So Bond turns up to greet the indefatigably grumpy M for his latest brief. Simple, Scaramanga is a bad guy, he wants to kill Bond, therefore Bond must kill him. Sorted. It also seems like the events of the day have once again bled into the Bond universe. It's 1974, and the people who take oil out of the ground and sell it to people who burn it in their cars decided to stop taking it out the ground. Creating a global financial and energy crisis and the largest expansion of technological research and development outside of a World War...until they turned the oil back on. Oh well I'm sure that problem won't come up again...

Bond's contribution to the oil crisis has seen him tracking down some smart bloke with a super solar gadget that will solve the worlds energy problems...turns out it's just a concentrated solar collector, that whilst pretty efficient if you have a crap load of mirrors lying around in a desert, isn't going to revolutionise the energy industry...even 30 years later. But enough of the day job...

Back to the action, and we've got another trip to the Orient. This resulted in our highest rated Bond so far in You Only Live Twice so good news! We take a tour around Hong Kong, Macau and Bangkok. We meet sumo wrestlers, Thai kick boxers, a vast array of traditional outfits and a charming lady skinny dipping called Chu Mee...of course she is.

Bond decides to bust out his disguise skills and infiltrates the latest mega rich business man's compound masquerading as...Scaramanga! Fortunately no-ones ever seen Mr. Manga before so Bond's disguise consists of a linen suit and one distinguishing feature...a third nipple. Not quite sure what Q branch was experimenting with they came up with prosthetic stick on nipples but hey, seems to work, or does it...

That's right, as usual, Bond is one step behind the bad guys as the real Scaramanga emerges from the shadows revealing his dastardly partnership with rich Asian bloke, Hai Fat. Inevitably Bond is captured and inevitably bad guys decide that rather than shooting him in the head they'll send him off to some Thai spa to be soaped down by lovelies and then participate in the local martial arts knock around. Bond holds his own until the Cobra Kai send out their ringer, Bond legs it and we're set for some boat, car chasing action.

Unfortunately the chasing fun is mildly ruined by an appearance of Sgt Pepper, the recurring southern American hick cop who serves zero purpose other than remind you of the distain the film makers have for a certain type of American, he's just not funny. Fortunately once Bond finds a fast car he spots a suspiciously carefully angled broken bridge...One lift of an eyebrow and its pedal to the metal and full barrel roll across a frickin' river! That's a Bond stunt! 

However, we're not done. Just as Bond catches up with the bad guys they disappear into a shed, seems like a legit hiding place until, WTF. He's got a car plane! That's right, it seems Bad Guy Inc. is a step ahead of Q branch too as Scaramanga takes to the skies in the least aerodynamic flying machine since that paper aeroplane you tried to make out of crape paper in primary school.

Bond tracks down Scaramanga to a beautiful island in the South China Sea (probably) and it's confrontation time. But these are two knights of the realm, their not just going to have brawl on a beach, this calls for pistols at dawn! Bond seems well up for this ludicrously polite shootout, but Scaramanga does one and escapes to his fun house with Nick Nack behind the controls. A circus spooky house creepathon ensues  and ends up in a rather disappointing dénouement of Bond fooling the master assassin by standing really still and shooting him in the head...told you that was the way to go.

We were also updated on the plot, remember that? Turns out said magic solar power is also really good for making lasers! That's more like it...Unfortunately Bond is accompanied by his Bond girl MI6 sidekick Goodnight. Who has so far, smuggled away the magic solar machine then got into the boot of the bad guy's car who subsequently flew away with it, and her to his lair...good one. Well Goodnight, played by the lovely Britt Ekland is now wandering around in the mandatory skimpy bikini and attempts to help Bond retrieve the magic solar box until, uh oh, watch where you put your bum love...turns on the dastardly device and explosions, shouting, disaster everywhere...if only she wasn't one of those stupid women types...

Fortunately there's a man around, and he knows what to do. Queue escape on the bad guy's, what can only be described as, pirate ship for the obligatory last fight vs midget henchman followed by sex with co-worker.

So overall, this is a pretty fun Bond film. Great bad guy, even better bad guy name! Great action scenes with one amazing stunt, amusing if slightly offensive henchman, a tonne of one-liners and a plot you can follow. Thumbs up from the CURRYBONDers who score The Man with the Golden Gun:
Girls n Gadgets - 6.4/10
Cheese - 8.4/10
Action - 7.3/10
Overall - 7.6/10

Al Mirage + The Man with the Golden Gun gets an impressive 7.7/10, taking the lead in the overall CURRYBOND stakes.

CURRYBOND will return in the accursed Onam + Live and Let Die 

CURRYBOND #7 Lahore Karahi + Diamonds are Forever

The Curry Leg

After the trauma of CURRYBOND #6 things were back to normal. Evening curry on a school night at one of the more iconic Tooting curry venues followed by a much more classic Bond, with the return of Sir Sean of Connery. Welcome back you Scottish, bum-slapping, judo chopping, hat-throwing secret weapon of Her Majesty's Secret Service. 

IMG_4423.JPG

Lahore Karahi was our venue. Another tooting curry staple, taking pride of place on Tooting high Street with its large white and blue sign announcing its presence to the wandering curry masses. This is also CURRYBOND's first visit to the canteen style curry house common to Tooting, offering the casual curry diner a walk-in takeaway option from its buffet style on offer. CURRYBOND however takes the opportunity to soak in the ambience at Lahore and take our seats in the plentiful seating available over two floors.
The restaurant was busy on arrival and continued to fill up to capacity on the ground floor at least. Certainly popular with the locals, was it reflected in the quality of the food or was the giant sign money well spent...?
Overall the cafeteria style combined with the buzzing but echoey ambience sees Lahore Karahi rewarded with a
Venue score of 5.0/10.


The CURRYBONDers are largely prompt, with a full complement seated within 30 minutes. We are welcomed by a friendly face and a bit of a do-it-yourself service with a stack of plates and cutlery provided and after a few requests some glasses for our BYO Cobras. After spending a week across the pond with our American friends our bellies were certainly now used to hefty portions, we might stand a chance at finishing a meal! We get straight into some starters following a descent round of popadoms, on the menu were samosas, seekh kebab, pakora and a couple of portions of the obligatory onion bhaji. They arrived promptly and looked good, crunchy pakora, tasty samosa but what's this? Who ordered the Thai fish cakes? No, this is our latest entry to the bhaji bible, an unusual style with a burger shaped slightly flabby orange fella presented to us it tastes nice but certainly won't trouble the upper echelons of bhaji brilliance, 5/10.

So after a good start, our mains ordered, the CURRYBONDers have a good catch up, the conversation is lively, more patrons file in, the conversation continues, other curry comes out to other people, the conversation wanes, we start to look around, check our watches, 45 minutes and no masala in sight. Disappointing. With a Bond leg still to come this could have serious repercussions. After a polite question of "where's our curry?" A few minutes later it emerges. So after quite a wait, on the menu is ginger chicken, chicken bhuna, chicken jalfrezi, bhuna gosht, chicken Karahi, chilli prawns and of course chicken tikka masala (CTM). The immediate reaction is, all quite brown...subtlety different shades, but mostly just brown...This consistently dour palette is echoed in the flavours with many of the curries tasting quite similar. Many of the chicken dishes also just have chicken + sauce, no veggies, not even a sprinkling of coriander. Having said that most dishes are still flavoursome, the naan is good though just a little too crunchy and the pilau rice is of the neon flecked variety. Overall the food is fine, but not special. The CURRYBONDers give a
Food score of 6.0/10.

So with the evening running away with us we quickly call for the bill and with a BYOB policy, no corkage on our plentiful Cobras the total comes in at £104.75 that's £13.09/CURRYBONDer. Not bad but not the cheapest on offer, Lahore Karahi gets a
Value score of 6.3/10.
The consensus therefore for this famous Tooting curry palace is, "a shrug". So perhaps Lahore has become somewhat complacent with it's signage attracting the locals like curry moths to a rather mediocre flame. Lahore Karahi gets an
Overall score of 5.5/10.


The Bond Leg


After a hurried shuffle back to CURRYBOND HQ we cram in and settle down for Diamonds are Forever and we're immediately welcomed by a lovely bit of Bassey. After the slightly odd use of We Have all the Time in the World in OHMSS this Bond theme really hits the spot. We also welcome Sir Sean and it really feels like we're back in classic Bond territory.
We kick things off with a montage, interesting choice...Bond is out and about quizzing people about Blofeld, including a bikini clad beach go-our who he whips off her bikini top and proceeds to strangle this poor girl with it...ah Sean we missed your lady strangling charm. Soon enough he finds Blo-Blo in his latest lair, I wonder which estate agents specialise in lair rentals...probably Foxtons...After a bit of fight action he wraps up the Blo-fish on a trolley and dumps him in the handily provided boiling mud. Done. Nemesis dead. Probably...


Right what's next in the MI6 inbox? Diamonds, sounds fun. Someone's nicking them from a hugely wealthy diamond corporation...sounds like a job for the government's best spy...
We're also introduced to our henchman for the evening. So far in our Bond journey the only notable entry for the best henchman award has been Oddjob. Enter Mr Kidd and Mr Wint. Probably the best thing about this film, they come accompanied by seriously creepy plinky plonky music, they stalk around murdering everyone who comes into contact with the diamonds, why? It's never really clear, but they seem to enjoy themselves. Oh, and they're gay. Which is revealed in a rather touching sequence after killing a dentist with a scorpion down his back they wander off into the desert hand in hand.

Back to the plot, and Bond is on the hunt for the diamonds, under cover as a diamond smuggler he makes his way to Amsterdam to meet the perpetually scantily clad Jill St. John as Tiffany Case...because she was born in a Tiffany's...case...or something. After some classic Sean seduction Bond's in a lift, a form of transport which features heavily in this Bond film. He proceeds to have a rather good ruck with the guy he's impersonating leaving him decidedly dead at the bottom of the stairs. It seems the director has finally decided to just film the action rather than cut away every three seconds or just speed it up for added confusion.

There's some more diamond chasing then we're in Vegas! A nicely glitzy locale for a Bond film. Though it seems Vegas in 1971 still had someway to go with most of these early scenes resembling a barren Moon-scape rather than a Mecca of bright lights and debauchery. Speaking of Moon-scapes...I duck out to make a mid-film cuppa for the CURRYBONDers who are visibly flagging. When I return laughter fills the room as I'm treated to Bond escaping from some Vegas lab in a Moon buggy! It bounces around the landscape with arms flopping around...I fear the seed of Moonraker had been sown.


There's some more confusing diamond chasing, including a car chase where Bond seems to circle the same Golden Nugget casino eight times when at last, confrontation with the villain. Who is it? BLOFE...Hang on a minute, I killed him in the first scene, hot mud and that. No No, it seems B-Flo has invested in the latest in plastic surgery/ split screen technology and there are two Bloeys! Shit! What to do, OOO kick the cat, cat jumps to Blobey number 1 and BANG! Bond shoots him in the face! Why didn't you do that last time with Telly Savalas, might have still had a wife...Uh oh, he's got a feline plastic surgeon too! Another cat...and inevitably Bond shot the wrong Blowter.

So obviously Bond is captured, obviously Bond escapes, set up another confrontation when we finally figure out what the diamonds are for. Giant Space Laser! At last! A proper Bond dastardly scheme. What the diamonds actually do is unclear...it seems to me a mirror might do the job...anyway B-Lo proceeds to use said space laser to vaporise various nuclear weapons, controlled with the cunning use of a cassette tape...well it is the 70s.

We move to the final confrontation on an oil rig, why not, and there's some excellent mind numbingly stupid Bond girl action from Ms Case including firing a machine gun and bouncing off the oil rig from the recoil. B to the Lo-Feld try's to escape in a little submarine thing until Bond grabs him on the crane and smashes him into a building. Blofe dead, again, probably...


Bond retreats to celebrate on a cruise ship back to Blighty until, creepy plinky plonky music, it's those pesky henchman and they've got room service. One last fight scene then, including burning one of them alive! And Bond is done, world saved, Henchman torched, Bond girl bedded. A good way for Sir Sean to exit the franchise, for good this time.
The CURRYBONDers scored Diamonds are Forever
Girls n Gadgets 4.9/10
Cheese - 5.9/10
Action - 5.1/10
Overall - 5.6/10

This gives a total score for CURRYBOND #7 of 5.5/10
CURRYBOND will return in Al Mirage + Live and Let Die

CURRYBOND #6 Apollo Banana Leaf + On Her Majesty's Secret Service

It had been going so smoothly. Curry after curry, bond after bond. The bump in the road was, I suppose, inevitable. It started slowly, a creeping malevolence driving a wedge through the heart of the CURRYBOND ground rules. The first compromise, a weekend CURRYBOND. Good in principal, no rush after work, available for otherwise unattainable participants, why not? The second compromise, on a non-CURRYBOND night out the requests begin. Why don't we move the timings around? Why don't we start with the film? What difference does it make? After a number of unofficial beers at a trendy city eatery, my soft heart gave in. It was done. For the first, but possibly not the last CURRYBOND #6 became BONDCURRY. (You can see why I dismissed this poor excuse for a name).

The CURRYBOND gods of Tikka and Masala, possibly even the almighty Broccoli were angered...I called the next venue, Onam. A Keralan themed curry house in South Tooting. No answer. I pass the restaurant out and about in Toots. The shutters are down. I ring the next day. No answer. The gods had sent their message... They had struck down Onam with the fury of 10,000 phaals and with the vitriol of all the vindaloos in SW17! CURRYBOND had been punished.

So I rang somewhere else and we went there instead...thanks Apollo Banana Leaf!

So in this CURRYBOND now recalled at 38,000 feet half way between Iceland and the Big Apple up is down and therefore we begin with...

The Bond Leg

We continue our theme of the bizarre on this CURRYBOND when without warning (if you know nothing about Bond) the hunky Scottish girl-slapping stalwart Sir Sean of Connery has gone! To be replaced by an, in my opinion, equally hunky, love mole aside, Aussie Bond, George Lazenby. Here to press his one and only stamp on the Bond franchise in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

George kicks things off with a pretty incoherent fight scene on a beach. Determined to save Diana Rigg from her early evening swim. It seems the action direction has decided to ignore the flaws of previous bonds by tripling the number of cuts to create some of the most confusing fight scenes to grace the punchy, throwy, choppy oeuvre of the bond fight scene. To top this all off, George Bond turns to the camera and quips "this wouldn't have happened to the other guy!" Fourth walls smashed all over your face! That's right! We've got a new Bond and we don't care about continuity, pacing, or coherent cinematography! Stick that in your Goldfinger and smoke it!

On to the next overarching theme of this Bond film, and for this we need some context. It's been a couple of years since our space volcano fun of You Only Live Twice, it's 1969 and in the wider world we've had Sgt Pepper, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and generally a lot of creative people really happy to have discovered some new creative "tools", really HAPPY! It seems like the film makers for OHMSS are no different. So our new direction for Bond seems to include tripping our heads off and accepting that an evil lair on the top of a mountain masquerading as a allergy treatment research lab for playboy bunnies is acceptable...

I skip straight to such location because the first 45 minutes nothing happens. Apart from Bond picking up a new Mrs from a mob boss in exchange for 20 grand. That's not Bond paying for the girl she comes free and he gets paid 20 grand! This guy is good.

Bond's in the lair, and who should greet him? His old mate Blofeld. Remember him? Bond's been dancing around with the super villain for a few films now, time for catch up chat with old Blooey. Bond sits down for a drink, but he's undercover, Blofeld doesn't have a clue who he is. In disguise you ask? Nah, just dressed up like Sherlock Holmes and put on a whiney posh English accent...super villain fooled. Who now looks suspiciously like Telly Savalas...

But back to Bonding. George Bond is surrounded by a veritable smorgasbord of girls hanging on his every one word with anecdotes about British heraldry who could blame them for getting misty down below...Sure enough the first to buckle is a curly haired beauty (not Joanna Lumley who's lounging in the corner presumably dreaming about the Northern Lights...) but a lass from Morecombe Bay with a pesky chicken allergy which she's come to get cured at an isolated, alpine, rotating research lab surrounded by armed guards...see previous remarks on LSD.

Obviously Bond bags this beauty amongst a selection of the rest of the harem. Didn't he just marry Diana Rigg...? I guess some things never change. He's treated to some trippy light shows and the dastardly plot is revealed to be making all the worlds flora and fauna infertile by infecting them with a virus distributed by his hypnotised playboy bunnies...probably some magic mushrooms in there as well...

But to some action, at last! We're treated to a rather nice ski chase of which the highlight must surely be the poor henchman who clearly never made it past his third ski school lesson, dives head first into a snow machine where henchman really aren't supposed to go. The result surely inspired a certain scene from Fargo, snow has never been more crimson.

After a few more action set pieces after the Mrs turns up involving stock car racing and a final confrontation with Blooey on a bobsled (feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's...a much better film). As is his want, Bond leaves BloBlo hanging on a tree branch, won't bother killing him then...hang on what was the whole purpose of this mission to begin with? That probably won't come back to bite him...

World saved and surely Bond has radioed MI6 to air drop his sex raft. No, a new Bond, let's try something different. Remember that wife he just found, BAM! Karma Police drive-by that's what you get when you leave your arch nemesis to wander back to the ski lodge, have a goulash and plot his immediate revenge. Your wife just got shot in the head! On the plus side this does give us 2 minutes of genuinely poignant acting from George Bond with some tear jerking dialogue...clearly the writers just made it through rehab.

The karma laced sad ending aside, the general feeling is a pretty weird Bond, good girls, zero gadgets, limited confusing action but plenty of cheese littered throughout. The CURRYBONDers score On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Girls n Gadgets - 5.1/10

Cheese - 7.1/10

Action - 3.4/10

Overall - 5.0/10

 

The Curry Leg

After our early Sunday afternoon Bond we've got some time to kill, so with eight CURRYBONDers in tow we dip into a nearby recently refurbished drinking hole, The Trafalgar Arms. After a few un-official but rather tasty local beers we pick up an extra couple of rather reluctant CURRYBONDers. Unwilling to experience the wonders of George Bond we welcome them into the fold for the curry leg, as CURRYBOND is a liberal church they are more than welcome for just half a CURRYBOND.

Fortunately the official CURRYBOND start time remains and as we pass the accursed Onam we arrive at our premature visit to Apollo Banana Leaf, a Sri Lankan restaurant in the lower reaches of Tooting, a few minutes south of Tooting Broadway. It's a double fronted wonder but for some reason the owners have adopted the one side open one side shuttered look.

With our biggest ever curry leg we take our seats, unfortunately on the shuttered side. The decor is bright and colourful, with a number of landscapes possibly Sri Lankan but the provenance of the mirrors is obvious, IKEA, that's right those thin wobbly ones. The overall ambience is good, not fancy restaurant good, but good for CURRYBOND. Apollo Banana Leaf gets a

Venue score of 5.6/10

The menu looks good, a nice mix of interesting looking Sri Lankan dishes and the more conventional curry house fare. We dive into the starters and with ten CURRYBONDers we get a good look at this variety with dosas, puris, and of course our sixth entry to the Bhaji Bible. This particular bhaji is another onion behemoth. A Frankenstein of both the ball and crustacean style culminating into a giant spikey onion ball. The result is good, tasty bhaji with a nice crunch. They get a bhaji score of 7/10.

Next stage, bring on the curry. No surprise, there's a lot. On the menu for CURRYBOND six, Chicken Biryani, Saag Chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken 65, Chicken Jalfrezi, Chicken Tikka Masala plus a whole load of other things I can no longer remember or read from the somewhat scribbly receipt. The reference CTM is nice, thick, creamy with good hunks of deep red chicken tikka. First impressions were good. I look at my Chicken 65, also large chunks of deep read chicken, this time rather dry but nicely spiced. I ask around my fellow CURRYBONDers. The Banker, who may have ordered a Jalfrezi in every curry establishment so far looks a bit concerned at his rather milky dish with red clumps sticking out. This one is not so good...

To sum up the currys on offer, mixed. It seems some of the more conventional curry dishes aren't really the forte of this establishment and perhaps the CURRYBONDers should have been more adventurous and branched out into the interesting looking Sri Lankan attractions on offer. Not a total disappointment but not a contender in the food stakes unfortunately. The CURRYBONDers award Apollo Banana Leaf with a

Food score of 6.5/10.

With fat bellies and one too many empty Cobra bottles left on the table we call for the bill. Benefitting from the another BYOB policy the total comes to £131.15 that's a solid £13.15/CURRYBONDer. A solid effort in the value stakes to bring the scores around achieving a

Value score of - 7.3/10.

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We end CURRYBOND #6 with the official photo and tot up the overall scores. The CURRYBONDers give Apollo Banana Leaf an

Overall score of 6.5/10.

 

So after a shaky start, an acid laden Bond debut, and upside down running order, CURRYBOND #6 gets an overall score of 5.7/10.

The lowest score so far...the CURRYBOND gods have spoken.

CURRYBOND will return in Lahore Karahi + Diamonds are Forever

CURRYBOND #5 Dosa N Chutney + You Only Live Twice

Curry Leg

CURRYBOND #5 and we're 20% of the way through this journey, a big enough sample size to check out some serious CURRYBOND stats courtesy of CURRYBOND Analytics. First up attendance, and now the words out, this chapter sees a new record in attendance. But let's take a more in depth look at the trends.  It's clear, CURRYBOND is growing exponentially. We welcome two CURRYBOND virgins to the fold, both arriving early, clearly eager to please the CURRYBOND gods of Tikka and Masala to bless this CURRYBOND experience...perhaps their prayers were answered.

Our latest venue is Dosa N Chutney. Expectations were high. Many a tasty curry has been had at this establishment over my tenure in Tooting. Ideally located just across the road from Tooting Broadway it's a popular establishment, demonstrated by a number of fellow patrons on this chilly Tuesday evening.

The venue itself isn't the largest. But it does an impressive job deceiving you otherwise with it's mirrored walls effectively giving the illusion of an infinite curry palace. The rest of the decor is relatively basic but the lively hum from the other restaurant go-ers gives a pleasant atmosphere. Certainly could do better but the CURRYBONDers decide on a descent venue score of 6.6/10.

As we take our seats we line up the Cobra's, unfortunately no BYOB at Dosa N Chutney but the Cobra pint glasses make a nice change to the rows of bottles. Popadoms are ordered, and Jobbers, now chief popadom assessor duly approved even suggesting these were the best 'doms yet. However, as a South Indian curry house, mango chutney was not provided but rather some nicely spicy chutney alternatives.

As the name suggests, this place does dosas. Not just any dosas, these beasts are giant crispy Indian pancakes with a myriad of fillings, toppings and all served with chutneys, samba and daal. The CURRYBONDers make the most of what's on offer with a host of dosas to start, Mysore Masala Dosa, Masala Dosa and Mutton Masala Dosa. They are delicious.

 

Unfortunately our efforts to fairly assess each and every curry restaurant with reference dishes of Onion Bhaji and Chicken Tikka Masala meets its first issue...no bhajis.  We plump for the closest substitute, onion pakoras. Whilst being crunchy and well spiced they do have a bit of the "just left on the side" feel to them. Resulting in a "bhaji" score of 4/10.

Dosas down, bring on the curry. Which in this menu is called gravy. The menu itself has an excellent variety, in particular, like its other South Indian counterparts, an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes. With so many CURRYBONDers this was a superb opportunity to sample this selection. The curry spread was, Aloo Gobi Masala, Hyderabad Bhuna Ghost, Chettinadu Chicken and Lamb, Mixed Kothu and thankfully Chicken Tikka Masala.

The curry...is....fantastic! Each curry has a depth of spice that smacks your tastebuds in the face then slowly caresses them as the flavour develops. The CTM is rich, creamy and moorish, my veggie Aloo Gobi is fragrant and warming, the Chettinadu is a thinner sauce but fiery and meaty with hunky lamb on the bone and the Kothu looks terrifying, like the scrapings of an omelette gone wrong. However, it has a common characteristic with all of its curry buddies, it's delicious!

The level of heat is variable but this is curry for grown ups. The heat isn't overwhelming, it's necessary. The accompaniments are good but don't necessarily meet the heights of the curry. Overall this is the best curry of CURRYBOND to date, it is duly rewarded with a food score of 8.5/10.

The CURRYBONDers slump back in their seats to survey the remains of the curry conquest before them, the portions were good the leftovers are inevitable the bill comes to  £133.90 that's  £16.74/CURRYBONDer. This all adds up to a value score of 7.4/10.

With this many CURRYBONDers the inevitable latecomers make their appearance once the beads of sweat are already trickling and belts have been loosened. So we have our first CURRYBOND takeaway, a trend that will surely pick up once we arrive at some of the smaller venues.

So with the scores in, smiles on faces, we take the official CURRYBOND photo and tot up the scores. Dosa N Chutney gets

An approved CURRYBOND rating of 7.9/10.

A new benchmark on the CURRYBOND roller coaster beating it's nearest rival, Masaledar by a full point! This one may be hard to beat. Certainly an early front runner for best curry in Tooting.

So with one curry in a bag and seven curries in bellies, we waddle to CURRYBOND HQ for the Bond leg. Can You Only Live Twice meet the high standards of its Curry counterpart to achieve the ultimate CURRYBOND experience?

 

Bond Leg

As we approach HQ, I'm nervous, a horde of CURRYBONDers make their way into a small Tooting flat, CURRYBOND sardines were not on the menu. But with some CURRYBOND feng shui we pack everyone in.

Next order of business, the Martinis. Seven more on order which takes our CURRYBOND total to 1.5 litres of Martini drunk so far. Combine this with 22 litres of Cobra, CURRYBONDers have consumed to date 1.58 litres of pure alcohol, which contains enough energy to power a lightbulb for 134 days, non-stop...statistics courtesy of CURRYBOND Analytics.

Drinks in hands, lights dimmed, Bah bah Bahhh! Bond is go.

Two minutes in and Bond is dead...again. Wait, what's this film called?

After four Bond films, these CURRYBONDers have seen this all before. So as Bond descends to his watery grave...I guess he's now in the Navy? It's no surprise to see divers making their way to the ocean floor...10 metres down. After investing that much in a giant swimming pool in Thunderball some kind of underwater action is expected. As Bond makes his way in to the afterlife it looks suspiciously like the most English submarine ever conceived.

In the meantime we're treated to our first exploration into the heavens with some excellent space action. Not just floaty astronauts but a super, space ship munching rocket! But who's doing the munching? Surely those pesky Soviets, Bond is on the case...so obviously he heads to Japan.

That's right, this is the Japanese Bond. Bond touches down in Tokyo, which is interesting to see just how sparse it looks in 1967. Bond heads to the Ryogoku Kokugikan to take in some sumo. As a sumo aficionado I can confirm the tachi-ai is legit, and this particular rikishi performs a faultless uwatenage overarm throw. Surely on the fast track to Yokozuna!

The tour of Japanese culture is therefore pretty enjoyable, and soon enough we're heading to ninja school! Ninja stars, Kendo, Karate, and everything in-between. As we know Bond is not unfamiliar with a judo throw to immobilise a henchman or two.

But back to the plot, Bond needs to survey an island to find where this space munching rocket is coming from, surely he can spot a space launchpad. So he takes to the air, after the jet pack in Thunderball Q Branch decides to raise its game. A handful of suitcases unfurl in an Ikea inspired flat-pack montage provide a microlight! Which looks exceedingly light. Bond takes off and while I nipped out to make the tea, I assume he had some excellent aerial duels with henchman on wings.

Bond's been hanging around in Japan for a while, and clearly his 1st in oriental languages isn't helping him blend in with the locals. So he turns to inspiration from The Vapors. A bit of hair dye, beefed up eyebrows and a winning fringe, bish bash bosh, Bond-san!

With a newly Jappaned up Bond. He goes to infiltrate the first great Bond lair, secret volcano space launchpad base! Who's in charge? Ernst Stavro Blofeld. You know this bits good when you recognise most of it from Austin Powers. With his new scantily clad Japanese wife in tow Bond and his trusty ninja friends make their assault. It's pretty exciting. Kung fu, explosions, abseiling, ninja stars, machine guns. Everything you need for an action packed Bond denouement. And of course Bloey escapes with his cat.

So inevitably the lair blows up, world war three is averted and Bond is left floating in the sea with a Bond girl in his government funded sex raft. All is well in the Bond universe.

Overall a fun packed trip to the orient with classic villain, entertaining action and some mildly offensive Japanese stereotypes. You Only Live Twice scores

Girls n Gadgets - 7.3/10

Cheese - 7.2/10

Action - 7.3/10

Overall - 7.3/10

So the Bond leg holds up its end of the bargain to give the best CURRYBOND experience to date!

CURRYBOND #5 scores 7.6/10

 

CURRYBOND will return in Onam + On Her Majesty's Secret Service