Eat - Mrs Majhu's
An innovative new Indian diner joins ‘restaurant row’ in Glasgow’s West End
Byres Road, the undoubted focal point of Glasgow’s West End, is a celebrated street for dining out. With the venerable No Sixteen near its base and the long-popular Café Antipasti nearer the top of the street, there is strength and diversity. It is bolstered by foodie shops, such as Heart Buchanan and Kember & Jones, and cafés as different as modern Tinderbox or the old-school University.
But success is not guaranteed. Just ask the people who ran Naked Soup, Leonardo’s & Co or Beetlenut. Indeed, the recently opened Mrs Majhu’s is in a tiny split level site that is slightly infamous for its variety of occupants; in the course of a half dozen years it has been Fusion, Dining Room and Monster Mash - although they all presumably had different reasons (not necessarily associated to the premises) for closing.
Mrs Majhu’s is the type of place that people talk about. It’s had the kind of word of mouth publicity that draws punters to its door. Cynics might remark that after Italian, however, Indian food is the other style of cuisine that the city already has a surfeit of.
But Mrs Majhu’s is arguably as notable for what it doesn’t do as what it does. Specifically, don’t come here expecting to see kormas, dopiazas, a dozen different pakora and bhajis or chicken tikka masala. Instead, the menu is highlighted by dishes such as green chilli and lime king prawn (with homemade pickle) or aloo gobi and asparagus. Not every dish is this different from the Glasgow-Indian norm. There’s an onion bhaji starter but it is ‘minted’; a vegetable pakora is paired with a cauliflower version; a main course of chicken lentils and spinach presumably will satisfy anyone looking for a type of dhal chicken saag.
Evening meals start with novelty: complementary wee puff balls that diners are meant to crack open and stuff with a mixture of chickpeas and a yoghurt dressing. From the à la carte starters (£3.85-£4.75), a chunk of salmon is slowly baked with a crust of coconut and parsley. One might wonder if coriander wouldn’t give it a bit more kick. Several main courses (£7.20-£12.95) don’t wallow in any gloopy, day-glo sauces. Gingered chicken karahi is relatively dry, with tangy ginger and diced bits of breast meat, which could itself arguably be moister. Crispy lamb (with delicate ladyfingers) runs the risk of a jerky consistency, although the dish is quite unlike what you’ll find in any other curry house. Sweet potatoes and aubergines is a more successful invention: tender young aubergines contrast nicely with the starchy yams.
In time, execution might always match innovation, which along with friendly staff, is Mrs Majhu’s trump card. Betting folk would wager that this operation could become a Byres Road landmark rather than a passing fancy.
41 Byres Road, Glasgow, 0141 339 1339
Proprietor Karen Majhu once worked in the Ashoka chain
and her chef was trained by Mother India’s Monir Mohammad.
Set-price lunch of two tapas, basmati rice, roti and
raita for £7.95 available Monday-Friday, noon-4pm