Dinertec @Mother India's Cafe

THE cold was making my engine grumble as loudly as the Buick's on a frosty morning.

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I needed a spicy pick-me-up, and I thought I knew just the joint to put a fire back in my belly. I told the Moll to put on something with a kick, and she sure kept up her end of the bargain.

With Blondie looking a million dollars and me feeling like I could eat a scabby dug, we pointed the old jalopy west and headed for Mother India's Cafe, the little sister of the famous Mother India restaurant.

As we pulled up outside the classy looking joint, the Moll was concerned her freshly straightened barnet would be ruined in the howling wind and rain.

"Put up the umbrella, Tec," she commanded.

One gust from Mother Nature and it was wind one, umbrella nil.

Mother India's Cafe serves Indian food in a traditionally Spanish way.

"Indian tapas," Blondie sighed. "Sounds like another of your hair-brained ideas."

But insisting that she'll try anything once, the Moll admitted she was curious.

Curiosity turned to mild annoyance as we faced a 15-minute wait cramped in a tiny doorway along with three other couples who were waiting for a table.

You might well ask why I didn't book a table to avoid just such an irritation, but the Cafe inexplicably does not accept bookings during the week.

When we were finally seated, it was in a pleasant room with only a small number of tables and full of wonderful smells.

Clearly this was the place to be, for sitting just behind us was none other than the funniest of funny men, Mr Frankie Boyle.

I pretended not to recognise him, although to be fair he appeared to have no idea who I was either. Satisfied my cover was intact, I took a peek at the scran scan while the Moll ordered a glass of white wine and I opted for a pint of India's Kingfisher lager.

"Order a few dishes each, along with sides, and take it from there," our cheerful waiter advised.

I asked for the hottest dish on the menu, and the young man helpfully offered to make it "extra hot" if I would like.

Like it I did, and the chilli garlic chicken delivered on both the taste and heat stakes. Too spicy for the Moll, it hit the spot for me.

The lamb chops also caught my eye and they were, hands down, the best version of this dish I'd ever tasted - and I'm no stranger to a lamb chop.

Succulent and just the right amount of spicy, the chops were magnificent.

My Peshwari nan provided the perfect way to mop up the leftover sauce from the chilli chicken and I polished off the lot with glee.

Despite her earlier misgivings at the idea of Indian tapas - "I'd just prefer a curry, nice and simple" - the Moll had no complaints about her grub either.

The chicken tikka makhni was excellent and the tandoori chicken likewise.

The makhni's creamy sauce was also polished off, the Moll using her plain nan to devour every drop.

The Moll wasn't sure what she would try next, saying the choice left her a little baffled. But she was fit to burst in any case and despite having eyes for a host of other offerings on the menu, I too had had just about enough to eat.

We did share a dessert though - gulab jamin with strawberry ice-cream.

Julab is a syrup-heavy Indian dumpling served hot, and it certainly packs a lot of flavour.

"It sure tastes better than it looks," the Moll said, "but I'll stick to the ice-cream."

That worked for me, as I gladly got to work on the gulab.

My plan to warm up my aging chassis had worked a treat, Mother India's Cafe hitting the spot in just about every department.

And that warm, fuzzy feeling was not interrupted when the pleasantly reasonable bill arrived.

The only area this fantastic little joint loses marks is in its policy of not allowing you to book a table.

If you're going to make people wait, at least give them somewhere more comfortable to do it than a cramped doorway.

That aside, Mother India's Cafe is a hot little number.

Food and drink

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