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Ron Mackenna: Curry On The Hill, Glasgow

Just at the moment when I quietly mutter about how long the delay has been the pleasant female owner walks over with free poppadoms - and apologises for how long the starters are taking.

I'm so spooked by this timing that for the next couple of moments I eye the walls of our booth for a hidden camera while my family openly laugh at me.

There's then a long debate over whether I should mention in this article that these free poppadoms are not actually that crisp. It's decided that because they're free I shouldn't. So I won't. But I can tell you there's another very long wait until our starters of Jaya's jubilee mixed platter arrive.

By then we've decided there's one thing we like about Curry On The Hill and that's the decor. With its dark veneers, walls built with stacked stones, soothing and changing mood lighting in the booths, and those water-filled and bubbling partition screens, it's stylish and relaxing.

But it's not just the decor we like. It's more the fact that there is so much space between the tables, and even the tables themselves are large enough to leave plenty of space between the diners. How unusual nowadays where the greedier the restaurant the tighter the gaps.

Perhaps it is because only a few weeks ago I was at the atmospheric hell of Cook & Indi's World Buffet with its constant stream of traffic between the uncomfortable tables but this feels like heaven. Surprising, too, because from the outside Curry On The Hill looks a bit of an uninviting mess nestling as it does off the beaten track on a low rise in Thornliebank on the south side of Glasgow. Somehow the stonework that creates a confusing effect outside works well inside.

As for the food? There are certainly some good things about the mixed platter starter. The aubergine and haggis pakora are both crisp and rich, but the chilli chicken is too soggy to take seriously, and the chicken pakora is OK, though it slides as one from its battered shell when bitten.

Unfortunately the chicken chaat and the house special chicken wings are both covered by a gooey, sticky, generic sauce that is pretty bland and causes mayhem with the white linen napkins.

We have time to ponder all this as the main courses are almost as delayed as the starters were. Perhaps they've been caught out by the bank holiday rush today?

Certainly when the owner was chatting earlier she said she had hoped to leave hours earlier to let her babysitter go.

On the bright side, nobody has pestered us for drink top-ups, though for once we wouldn't really mind as the glasses have been empty for ages.

Of course, as soon as we start talking about how chilled it is in here somebody in the kitchen does something with the swing doors and they start to bang like a gunshot as soon as they are closed. You couldn't make it up. And yet, and yet … the chicken achari is fabulously packed with tons of coriander and the flavour of lime pickle ricochets through it in a delightfully tart and savoury way. It's great.

There's something called a Glasgow curry on the menu, which is meant to be a little culinary joke, but if it's a bhoona it's a good one. Not so keen on the chasni that is in a sauce so creamy it looks like custard and so sweet it tastes not far off it.

What with all the delays, and the missing drinks orders, and the banging door - and did I mention they haven't lit any of the table candles? - this would seem like a disaster, but it's not. There's something very pleasant about the atmosphere in here: it's civilised. The food is still flavoursome and satisfying if it isn't exactly cutting edge.

They seem like pleasant people, too, so we won't hold this bank holiday chaos against them too firmly.

Curry On The Hill

3 Bemerysyde Avenue, Glasgow (curryonthehill.co.uk, 0141 649 8080)

Menu

Possibly the safest, dullest Indian restaurant menu in town. No surprises and nothing new, but some people like the old favourites. 3/5

Atmosphere

Very cool and stylish interior, great space at and between the tables. Relaxing if they'd stop that door banging. 4/5

Service

Pleasant when it was there and we got free poppadoms, but problems with the kitchen getting the food out when we were in. 3/5

Price

Two courses pre-theatre cost £9.95. A la carte starters £3-£4. Main course dishes were reasonably priced. 4/5

Food

Had its moments. Lovely chicken achari and not a bad bhoona either. Starters were generally dull and uninspired though. 6/10

TOTAL: 20/30

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