Having read Jay Rayner's review of Hot Stuff in the Observer a few weeks ago I seized the first opportunity that presented itself and dragged a whole bunch of friends down to deepest darkest Vauxhal for what turned out to be the best curry I've ever had.
A very diverse group of us are going skiing next week so it seemed like a good idea to have a pre skiing get together so we all make friends and get excited about zooming around on some snow. We tried to keep the 1850 and 1650 chat to a minumum given that South Lamberth isn't exactly Fulham. Thank God!
On my way through Vauxhall to Hot Stuff I came across some really cool street art dangling from the top of a bridge. Really cool and a bit surreal.
The advanced party met at a very straightforward pub called the Gladstone which I was hoping was going to be situated opposite the Disraeli or the Queen Vic. No such luck. It was in fact directly opposite an enormous Sainsbury. Cowie had a lot of trouble finding us and landed up being picked up by a cabby from the Battersea Dog Home and delivered for free because he was fearful for her safety. Pearls and a trouser suit tend to stand out in the wasteland of Vauxhal.
We sloped off down the cul de sac to Hot Stuff for our 9pm reservation and fuelled up on beer and wine from the off licence next door. The restaurant is tiny. It probably seats about 25 people at a squeeze. The walls are covered in murals and a range of reviews that veer from the brilliant to the dazzling. This place has a long history of cooking great curry.
Our waiter was hillarious and very helpful. He gave us all menus and then said that he'd prefer it if we didn't order from them. In fact he asked for them back and asked if we were happy for him to just serve us the food that his kitchen thought would suit us best! Who were we to argue!
A couple of metres of naan bread appeared which he balanaced very cleverly on top of our beer bottles. It was scorching hot and incredibly good. But not as brilliant as the starters that then appeared. Spicy paneer and chilli chicken were both delicious. As was the bowlful of enormous prawns. By this point we were already feeling quite full.
After a few minutes of banter from our waiter and a few trips to the very dodgy loo our main courses arrived relentlessly. A collection of dishes that I can't even begin to describe or remember. The only one that I can clearly recall was a corriander lamb curry which I think may have been a dopiazza. It was gorgeous. And has since become my curry of choice. So long Rogan Josh. It's been fun. But a tastier number has outdone you!
There was no fish on the menu. You have to visit them after Wednesday in the week for that treat. I simply can't wait to go back and give it another go. It's a brilliant find in a place that you'd never go. I've raved about it to everyone I've seen in the last week. It's the kind of place that I'd like to lift up and plonk down on the end of Chivalry Road and then not tell anyone about!
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: