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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 #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 #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 #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 #4 Mirch Masala + Thunderball

The Curry Leg

As I walked down the corridor of curry that is Tooting High St I see a vision...a Spectre. A vision of a future CURRYBOND. A man in a bow tie, a brutish man with dead eyes, muscles rippling beneath his ivory white, what I can only assume, chefs jacket...He stares through my soul. He knows how much more Bond there is to come until he is called for to sate thebloodthirsty want of the noughties cinema go-er. Until then it seems I'll settle for a raised eyebrow, a cruise in a jet pack and slap on the bum of the nearest blonde...

Once I've shaken off this foretelling of a meat headed chef destined to raise the Bond franchise out of oblivion with the force of his pecks alone, I arrive at our next venue.

Mirch Masala, one of a hand full of curry restaurants that non-Tooting residents aka the curry deprived masses, might have heard of. It's ideally suited half way between Tooting Broadway and Bec slap bang in the middle of Tooting curry Mecca. Adorned with some distinctive red neon signage and only 1/11 letters failing to illuminate, not bad for your average tooting neon display.

I'm duly welcomed by an all new CURRYBONDer not just on time, but slightly early. This is a pleasing trend with all attendees present and correct by 7.15pm, omens were good for a full CURRYBOND before the inevitable descent into the curry coma. This 4th chapter also saw new heights to CURRYBOND attendance, the news is out, word was spreading, and at this rate CURRYBOND will end up investing £2,234.7 into the curry economy of Tooting!

So, the venue. Once inside the missing neon L is perhaps a symptom of a slightly neglected interior...missing light fittings, dodgy looking cabling and "hold it 'till you get home" toilets. Unfortunately none of this escapes the now seasoned CURRYBONDers who give Mirch Masala a venue score of 5.1/10.

But, as we know a curry experience is so much more than decor. After the CURRYBONDers settle in with a variety of beers courtesy of the BYOB policy, the food kicks off with the obligatory popadoms. But there's a problem, no mango chutney! So far unheard of on CURRYBOND, the 'doms come with a mint raita and a chilli sauce, but generally a little disappointing. Jobbers, a keen purveyor of the 'dom, takes this lack of quality as a personal affront and only crunches through one and a half crispy circles.

The bhaji's are up next, and things are looking up. We are presented with two mounds of the crustacean version of the onion bhaji, previously seen in CURRYBOND #2.

The comparison is inevitable, some say better some say worse, overall the conclusion is pretty good, and these bhaji's are rewarded with a 7/10.

Curry time! With the largest CURRYBOND crowd so far the variety we were able to sample was significant. Lamb Tikka Masala, Methi Chicken, Ginger Chicken, Chicken Keema, the obligatory Chicken Tikka Masala and a variety of naan. The menu variety on offer was excellent. Most of the curries come in a Karahi, while these particular metal dishes slightly resemble a dog bowl the contents certainly did not. The food was very good, the reference Chicken Tikka Masala in particular may be the best example so far. Positive murmurings all round, good portions, lovely thick spicy sauces. The chicken did go a little dry and the naans were perhaps on the thick side, but in general a satisfying curry spread. The heat was generally medium/low though the waiter offered to match any requests to beef the heat.

CURRYBONDers give the Mirch a food score of 7.1/10.

The common site of curry remains litter the table, the value assessment therefore is going well, along with the BYOB surely high scores are promised. The bill comes to £68.60 that's an impressive £9.80/CURRYBONDer! The first time we've dipped below £10/person a new benchmark in curry value.

Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND value score of 8.5/10.

So putting aside the venue, which to be honest is not why one comes to Tooting for curry, Mirch Masala scores well on food and value. An excellent bargain curry experience at the centre of Tooting.

Mirch Masala gets a CURRYBOND approved score of 7.1/10.

The Bond leg

With a horde of CURRYBONDers in tow it was back to HQ for a serious test of capacity...alternatives may be necessary.

We're now four Bonds in to the Connery run and I feel like we're old friends. Thunderball also welcomes none other than Welsh crooner Tommy Jones accompanying some writhing watery women in the latest Bond intro. Water, it seems, may feature in this film...

Bond's first foray, a funeral...not the typical event for some spy on spy action but this is James Bond. It's not long before Bond is smacking a woman in the face...but wait, this time it's not one of those jumped up "women" trying to justify their time outside of a bedroom. It's a transvestite mourner, determined to re-use that black dress at 007's wake! Who needs a Danish Girl when you've got Bond breaking the mould for trans henchman everywhere.

We're then treated to our first iconic Bond moment with a jet pack escape! That's right, Q branch has finally pulled its finger out and given Bond some real toys.

Soon enough we're introduced to our villain, Jimmy eye-patch or some such and his host of henchman, Barry polo-neck and Frank wide-neck...so the bad guys aren't particularly notable. We are however still in Spectre territory, which means some good (spoiler alert) Blofeld action, with cat in hand and minions presenting their achievements. Unfortunately for American minion he chose the electric chair and tonight is fried minion night on the Spectre menu...

The dastardly plot has a bit more threat than previous outings. Now we've got nukes! The classic, "pay us or else" approach seems fine until inflation kind of dulls the threat with a ransom of £100million...

Next up on the unlikely action venue is health spa. There's our hero, minding his own business forcing his way in to the pants of his physio when he's left alone on the spine stretching machine...not sure why these never made it to your local Fitness First. But look out, henchman alert, with Bond literally tied up at his mercy surely bullet in the head? Nah, let's just give him a REALLY long spine and turn this bad boy up to 11!

The Bond girls, it seems always come in threes. In this case they are somewhat interchangeable. Bond obviously has his way with all of them which doesn't help distinguish which ones are trying to help him or kill him...

But the real star of Thunderball is surely the shorts...many many short shorts. They really steal the show from their host, Sir Sean, who is shown fully clothed in approximately 2% of screen time. The reason for this explosion of swimwear is that Thunderball pretty much spends the whole time, in water, next to water or dreaming of being in water. Clearly having spent a fortune on a giant swimming pool the producers were determined to get their monies worth. We've got planes landing in the sea, divers in all shapes and sizes with special diving buggies, shark tanks, SCUBA, snorkels and more harpoons than aCaptain Ahab themed whaling convention.

All this diving action does produce some pretty impressive set pieces with stabby, hapooney underwater fight scenes en mass.

Though this final scene gets pretty indulgent once it ticks past 15 minutes!

Inevitably Bond disposes of the bad guys, gets the bombs back and ends up floating in the CIA provided sex float with Bond girl number 3, but what's that weird plane flying over? Rather than have a relaxing cruise home, Bond plumps for the mid-air-plane-catch-a-wire with girl attached method...smooth.

Overall an enjoyable watery romp. CURRYBONDers score Thunderball.

Girls n gadgets - 7.0/10

Cheese - 5.7/10

Action - 7.2/10

Overall - 6.5/10

Which gives CURRYBOND #4 a score of 6.8/10, our best combined experience so far!

 

CURRYBOND will return in Dosa N Chutney + You Only Live Twice

CURRYBOND #3 Radha Krishna Bhavan + Goldfinger

The Curry Leg

CURRYBOND is clearly hitting its stride. Arriving at the start time, 7pm, to not just one CURRYBONDer but two! Clearly public shaming is the way to go to encourage punctuality. That being said The Banker was still tardy, however only 15 mins late is a minor miracle. So by 7.15pm we had a full complement, including the latest addition to the CURRYBOND family, George's Legacy, our first eponymous CURRYBONDer.

So to our latest curry venue, Radha Krishna Bhavan (RKB). It's an established Tooting classic. One of the many advantages of exploring curry restaurants in Tooting is they have helpfully located themselves in a geographically accurate configuration...sort of. This venue features South Indian cuisine and is located south of Tooting Broadway with many of it's other South Indian compatriots (see future CURRYBONDs Dosa N Chutney and Onam).

The venue itself is probably summed up in one word, "homely", which may come back to bite it when it comes to the food. There's a rather nice exotic palm tree theme to the decor with various authentic looking objet d'art adorning the walls. Some of which Jobbers described as "lovely brass balls"...The restaurant started filling up from 7.30pm which provided a nice hum of atmosphere to go along with the scenery. All of this adds up to a strong start with an average venue score from the CURRYBONDers of 7.8/10.

With our curries ordered we eagerly awaited the next chapter of the Bhaji Bible. The variety on offer looked good with a number of South Indian curries not seen on CURRYBOND as yet. As with many South Indian offerings there's an excellent selection of veggie dishes, most seem to be side dish size, but all seem like good value.

RKB take the ball approach to the bhaji, with 5 balls for one serving, good stuff. In general, bhaji's are tasty and crunchy-ish, overall not bad but not quite reaching the heights from CURRYBOND #1, these little fellas get a 7/10.

Important to note that this is our first CURRYBOND without bringing our trusty supply of Cobra beer. RKB is not BYOB but offers alcohol on the menu, unfortunately the promised Kingfisher is scribbled off but Tikka Gold and the ever faithful Cobra is on offer for £3.95/per 660ml bottle. Pretty good value and predictably the CURRYBONDers rack up the Cobra's in preparation for the curry bananza awaiting them.

The curry arrives, on the menu this evening, old faithfuls chicken jalfrezi and lamb bhuna, some veggie sides beetroot thoran and brinjal, and some newbies including chicken malabar. No naan on offer, so parathas were the bread of choice. Not forgetting the reference...but wait...no chicken tikka masala. Our first compromise to the control experiment, we dropped the tikka and plumped for chicken masala.

Overall there is a definite lack of heat, which I'm sure goes with the South Indian style, so if you're after a mild experience it's a plus, for these CURRYBONDers they like to come away with a slightly fizzing tastebud. The reference dish was frankly a little disappointing, the dominant flavour was tomato with a lack of spicy depth. Unfortunately this is where "homely" comes in again which was the dominant impression of the food, more home cooked than restaurant extravaganza...This all culminates in a food score for RKB of 5.4/10.

The bill comes in at a total of £79.50 that's £15.90/CURRYBONDer, so not cheap. There is however a Tastecard offer of 2-4-1 if you mention when booking on the phone. This took off the bhajis and the chicken masala from the bill which was good news. Overall the value suffers from a lack of a BYOB policy and results in An average value score of 5.6/10.

 

So as the CURRYBONDers line up for the official photo we add up the scores to average out to a CURRYBOND approved rating of 6.3/10.

 

The Bond Leg

Unfortunately we lose our newest CURRYBONDer for the Bond leg, George's legacy has clearly spotted her namesake's award and sticking with an attendance record of half a CURRYBOND.

So Bond #3, Goldfinger, the first of many gold themed Bonds. One can only imagine that after a finger, a gun and an eye, maybe Bond will one day meet his ultimate golden villain with a fully golden anatomy.

First off this Bond outing has a much slicker feel, proper Bond music, girls in golden pants writhing around, rampant misogyny and a dose of mild female abuse. So classic Bond all round.

We're introduced to the villain Goldfinger pretty much straight away and Bond proceeds to follow him around the globe in a masterclass of spying by introducing himself as a spy, getting locked up, escaping then coming back to say "hi remember me" and getting locked up again.

On the plus side he makes up for his spy skills with a host of excellent gadgets mostly in the rather nice Austin Martin which makes it's first outing with 007. Including the very first ejector seat! So gadgets, tick. How about henchman? SWOOSH! That's right, the sound of a steel rimmed bowler hat coming to decapitate you! It's Oddjob! Perhaps the greatest Bond henchman and obviously the best character in N64 Goldeneye multiplayer. He has little to say, but with hat action like that who needs a script. Henchman, tick.

Bond girl? None other than feisty stunt pilot Pussy Galore..."I must be dreaming..." Never before has a film, not found exclusively on restricted websites, used the word pussy with a straight face more times than Goldfinger. Impressive.

The dastardly plot involves gold, unsurprisingly, not stealing it but making it radioactive so the remaining gold in the market rises in value due to a restricted supply....that's right, a dastardly plot mainly appreciated by economists...pretty dull. When do we get a villain with a giant space laser!

So a good Bond experience, plenty of classic moments, the Bond crotch laser scene, "no Mr. Bond I expect you to die!" Which begs the question why he doesn't shoot him in the face...

The CURRYBONDers score Goldfinger

Girls n Gadgets - 6.8/10

Cheese - 6.5/10

Action - 6/10

and gets an overall CURRYBOND rating of 6.5/10

 

So CURRYBOND #3 gets and overall score of 6.4/10

 

CURRYBOND will return in Mirch Masala + Thunderball

CURRYBOND #2 Rayyan's + From Russia with Love

With CURRYBOND #1 a mere lost memory in the ether of time...a.k.a last Tuesday the stage was set for CURRYBOND #2.

A clear illustration of the success of CURRYBOND #1, this instalment saw a 20% increase in the number of CURRYBONDers. Forecasting out to CURRYBOND #24 we surely can expect a veritable hoard of 331 CURRYBONDers invading the streets of Tooting at Christmas, Sadiq, you've been warned! So with our new participant lined up we welcomed the second curry leg.

Curry leg

The venue, Rayyan's, a slight deviation from the curry Mecca of Tooting High St veering East along Mitcham Rd to this relatively recent (2013) addition to the Tooting curry scene. On arrival it's clearly spacious, more than capable of coping with the explosion in CURRYBOND participation. There's a glitter wall, always a plus and would certainly be on the list of requirements for the perfect CURRYBOND venue. Comfy seats, some music, and yes Shethers, they will be marked down for playing at least three Bieber songs in short succession. Overall a decent venue however scores dampened somewhat by the lack of other patrons...

 

Venue score 5/10

The second chapter gives us a chance to evaluate the future pitfalls of CURRYBOND, punctuality. Punctuality is clearly an issue...and with the Chairman spending his week mired in the depths of PRINCE2 this is surely an amber risk with a high likelihood. It's going straight into the CURRYBOND risk register. Having said that, one CURRYBONDer continues to buck the trend of creative time keeping and clocks in bang on time, official beer in hand.

 

The prompt CURRYBONDers get down to some curry action and kick things off with the reference starter, that's right, it's bhaji time! Probably the polar opposite of CURRYBOND #1's bhaji, Rayyan's have appeared to go for the mutated crustacean look to their curry starter staple.

Despite the appearance of the love child of a king crab and a Nik Nak, the flavour is good, texture is crunchy and portion is giant! So another good addition to the bhaji bible. It gets an impressive 8/10.

Now with a full complement of CURRYBONDers, the serious work of the curry can commence. On the menu is Lamb Madras, Chicken Jalfrezi, Chicken Karahi, Chicken Madras a special Afgan Lamb Karahi and of course the reference Chicken Tikka Masala. With a vague attempt to actually finish the meal only two rice were ordered but plenty of naan.

The curries look good, smell good and taste good. The Afgan lamb certainly goes down well with a nice level of background heat. The reference however is advertised with 0/3 chillis on the menu but seems to have been cooked in the same pot where a thousand chillis have been ground into oblivion to impart their spiritual fire to whatever curry comes near...in other words, it was surprisingly hot, but not unpleasantly so. The Madras' also gave a hefty kick. On average Rayyan's is getting a bog roll in the fridge rating of hotness, not quite reaching the blast chiller levels.

The CURRYBONDers score in the 'Good' range with 6s and 7s all round, therefore Rayyan's gets a CURRYBOND food score of 6.6/10.

There's certainly curry left in the pots and even rice in the bowls, so good portions all round and with another BYOB policy signs are good for the value scores. The total bill comes to63 exc. Tip making an average cost of10.50/CURRYBONDer a bargain without doubt. High value scores all round CURRYBOND value score of 8/10.

So with Bond number two beckoning we round off the second curry with a feeling of satisfaction, heavy wallets and well spiced taste buds. Food was good but again left room for improvement and the venue could have done with an injection of fellow curry crusaders, and certainly less Bieber.

Rayyan's gets a CURRYBOND approved rating of 6.6/10

 

The Bond leg

So with our extra CURRYBONDer this was an early test for the capacity of CURRYBOND HQ. So far no complaints, though if this growth in participation increases a new venue for the Bond leg may be necessary...

As we settle down for Sir Sean's second outing the signs are good. Classic Bond intro, classic Bond music which seems to have been the only music written for the film and used for everything from car chases to wandering around a hotel room unscrewing light bulbs...Before we know it Bond is wandering around a rather nice maze until Bam! Razor wire and James is dead. Right, film over CURRYBOND cancelled...no wait. It's one of those pesky Russian's who's nicked a rubber face making kit from Mission Impossible 2! So all is good, it's just Bond's latest Lungren-esque adversary getting in some choking practice for the annual CCCP choke off.

Back to Blighty where spies spend THEIR time throwing their hats on hat stands! Bond is soon off on his latest adventure to Istanbul, something to do with a hot Russian girl and code breaking...the important thing is he gets to pose with said sexy Russian on windswept shots of the Blue Mosque from the Bosphorus, lovely!

He meets up with local Turkish voyeur Kerim Bey who has decided that spying in Istanbul should have a certain maritime flavour and installed a periscope beneath the Russian embassy, that's right, mirror, pipe, spying.

After some excellent Bond girl seduction, in this case coming home to your hotel and finding a naked Russian in your bed, damn he's good, there's some explosions, some shooting, a gypsy carnival and he's on a train. He's got his girl, he's got his special case with the special thing he was meant to pick up, all is good...not sure why he doesn't fly home...but hey, who doesn't like a good train ride from Istanbul to London! Until Russian Dolph Lundgren turns up and he's brought his chokey wire! But first, dinner with Bond, obviously! What's the point in just killing him!

So they sit down to dinner, fish on the menu...wine Mr Lundgren? "I'll have a glass of red" ...Shit! He missed the sommelier week at Russian henchman school! That combined with one of the worst English accents this side of Dick Van Dyke, Bond's on to him! Couple of punch ups later and he's away, done deal.

But there's still one more iconic Bond moment to fit in when that short strangely Russian sounding hotel maid suddenly turns evil! That's right it's Rosa Klebb and she's got spikey shoes!

So down to the scores. Overall a much more satisfying Bond experience than Dr.No, the story bobbed along nicely with spots of action and a liberal spreading of Bond girls. We even get our first introduction to Q branch who provides a briefcase with gold sovereigns hidden inside, one can only assume to prepare James for his upcoming Captain Pugwash cross-over film.

The CURRYBONDers score From Russia with Love Girls n Gadgets - 7.2/10 Cheese - 5.8/10 Action - 5.2/10 Overall - 6.6/10 Giving CURRYBOND #2 and overall score of 6.6/10


CURRYBOND will return in Radha Krishna Bhavan + Goldfinger

CURRYBOND #1 Masaledar + Dr. No


The CURRY leg It was time. CURRYBOND was go! Five brave CURRYBONDers arrived at the first curry restaurant on this spicy odyssey, Masaledar. Perched nicely between Tooting Bec and Broadway it has been a long time favourite of these particular CURRYBONDers.
Jobbers, first to arrive. He’s clearly got his eyes on the Sean Connery award for best CURRYBOND attendance. Turnout is good, with The Banker third to arrive and only 15 mins late, we’ll keep an eye on that throughout CURRYBOND.

 


So to the venue, it’s glitzy sparkle fits in perfectly with the CURRYBOND aesthetic, comfy leather chairs, warm lighting and limited fluorescents will surely see Masaledar fire high on the venue score. Bathrooms are clean, adequately stocked with squeezy soap and received a thumbs up from Shethers, chief CURRYBOND bathroom reviewer. The gents hand drier however resembled an old man slowly exhaling his last breath on your hands. After collating the CURRYBONDers scores Masaledar gets a 8.1/10 for venue, the phaal is strong with this one…


Service was prompt, friendly and without incident.


The reference starter was available and duly ordered. 6 onion bhaji balls arrived accompanied by a rather nice spicy dipping sauce. Bhaji’s were very tasty, nicely crunchy without being burned and had a texture as Gills put it “quite falafelly”. Overall a strong start to the bhaji bonanza awaiting us, straight in with a 9/10 for bhajis.


But, to the curry. A good selection from the menu, which was relatively limited for a curry place, 8-10 main dishes per meat/veg on offer. Up first in CURRYBOND #1 Chicken Korma, Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi, Saag Murgh, Methi Gosht, Lamb Masaledar and of course the CURRYBOND reference curry, Chicken Tikka Masala. The curry looked good. Generous portions, notable by how much was left over (though January diets from some of the CURRYBONDers might not have helped). Quality was high across the board, the Methi Gosht was a notable high as was the Tikka Masala. The eponymous Lamb Masaledar however got a damp reception with Jobbers preferring the Tikka Masala. Naans were good, anti-vampiric levels of garlic, not too bready and big. A contender for the Naan with the Golden Gun Award. So overall, the food is very good, but the CURRYBONDers had the feeling we weren’t quite hitting the ceiling of curry Valhalla. So awarded the Food 7.2/10.

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The final category for the curry leg of CURRYBOND, value. Straight off the bat Masaledar hits it off with a BYOB policy, which we took advantage of. A £1/person “corckage” is added to the bill though judging by the bottles of official Cobra beer on our table a “bottle capage” would have been more appropriate. The total bill £88.20 exc.tip, that’s £17.64/CURRYBONDer. Relatively high considering the BYOB, as a result Masaledar gets a score of 6.3/10 for value.


So to sum up Venue - 8.1 Food - 7.2 Value - 6.3 However, the CURRYBOND experience is so much more than specific categories, so for each locale an overall score is presented, and for Masaledar it get’s a


CURRYBOND approved rating of 7.2/10.


The BOND leg After having way too much curry fun the CURRYBONDers had to get a shifty on back to CURRYBOND HQ if the feat of a curry and a Bond film in one evening on a school night was possible. On the way an early contender for the Christmas Jones award for worst CURRYBOND moment slapped me in the face when one CURRYBONDer (you know who you are) suggested “this whole CURRYBOND thing is fun, maybe some weeks we could go somewhere else instead of curry…”. That’s one strike.


We settled down to our first instalment of the James Bond boxset. Martinis were poured, lights were dimmed, Bond was go!


…1 hour in….


Not much has happened…he got a new gun, went to Jamaica, read some geological reports (that’s a plus), played Baccarat (now we understand the rules, probably the most boring card game ever created). One of the CURRYBONDers was drifting in to the inevitable curry coma. But wait, Bond’s on an island, and wait there’s a dragon!


…Oh…it’s just a car with a lighter and a can of lynx…


Oh well, here comes Ursula Andress! Who perks things up a bit with her shells and knife action. Then ¾ of the way through, Dr. No. The least Chinese Chinese villain ever to hit mainstream cinema. But wait, he’s got special metal hands and an aquarium with a wonky window. It was all going fairly tamely until the dénouement.
Bond has found himself in the latest in radioactive protection fashion straight off the KKK designs rejection list, and he has infiltrated the rather sparsely populated lair of Dr. No who is intent on firing a missile at someone…


“Chang why are you standing there!” Isn’t is obvious Dr. No, he’s turning up the danger on your nuclear reactor, whilst not laughing at the inflated henchman going about his business! That’s top quality secret agenting! This was too much for some CURRYBONDers who broke down in hysterics. An early contender for the Oddjob’s Hat award for best CURRYBOND moment.
So overall a pretty slow start to the Bond experience but with some excellent costume based lair comedy towards the end. CURRYBONDers were asked to rate Dr. No on three categories and the scores were:

Gadgets n Girls - 4.6 (good classic Bond girl moment but zero gadgets)

Cheesiness - 5.8

Action - 5.3

Overall - 5.6

Therefore the total score for CURRYBOND #1 is 6.4/10


A good start to CURRYBOND but I feel there is more to come.


CURRYBOND will return in Rayyans + From Russia with Love