Dinertec @ Usha's, Byres Road

USHA'S, 2 Byres Road, Glasgow, G11 5JY Tel:

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08448849399

IT was hot outside, real hot. So hot the neighbour's ankle biters had hijacked the sprinklers at Tech Towers.

The shrubs were as dry as the Moll's one liners.

"Didn't I tell you to see to the air con," shrieked Toots as she fanned her flushed face with a copy of Good Wife magazine and slid back in her chair.

I had two choices. Take her out for an early evening bite or risk her boiling over in the kitchen later.

I revved up the Buick and we headed to Usha, Glasgow's first dedicated vegetarian Indian restaurant, on Byres Road.

A number of bars and restaurants have opened and closed on the same corner of the Hipster's Paradise in recent years.

Will this one go the distance, I wondered.

I'd heard some good things about the joint, so expectations were high.

For one thing, the menu has been put together with the help of top international chef Sameer Sehgal, who has cooked up veggie feasts for Madonna at London's Dorchester Hotel.

"If it's good enough for Madge, it's good enough for me," snorted Toots as we pulled up outside.

We mosied on down , the table was ready and waiting. The decor modern and relaxed, the staff welcoming.

While the Moll rushed to powder hor glowing nose with her Max Factor creme puff, I took a scan of the scran fest.

As well as the more traditional curries, there are also noodle-based dishes, and the prices are pleasing too, with dishes averaging £4.50.

Small, designed for sharing, but doing battle with the Moll's big choppers is not for the faint hearted.

The paneer pakora had my name written on it: home made Indian cheese infused with tamarind and mint chutney, dipped in the restaurant's own gram flour batter.

A tasty start to proceedings, but the dip was spicier than Blondie's bedside novel. My flaming tonsils would have preferred something cooler.

Toots requests a starter with soya mince, but she threatened to blow a gasket when the waiter told us that all the soya dishes had been taken off the menu.

The chef had discovered the brand they had ordered included egg. They are trying to appeal to vegan diners too, he said.

Toots made a u-turn, pointing at the samosa chaat, which came with chickpeas, salad and yoghurt and taramind sauce. She polished it off in seconds and peace was restored.

After we'd cleared our starter plates, there was a bit of a unwelcome delay, then the waiter asked if we would like some coffee.

The Moll tapped her talons in a threatening drum roll as I explained we were still waiting for our mains.

I'll blame it on teething problems, being the new kid on the block and all, but first impressions count.

For mains, I'd plumped for the roast Indian vegetables curry, while the Moll sized up the aloo palak: spinach and potatoes cooked with a special blend of spices.

My curry was a little shy of variety for me on the veg front and the taste didn't quite excite.

The Moll's dish didn't float her boat either, it was much too heavy on the spinach.

"I'll turn into Popeye," she sqealed and it left her dreaming of a ribeye steak.

We shares Basmati rice and a lacha paratha (Indian flat bread) recommended by the waiter, which was a little bland for a night on the tiles.

With Glasgow already a hotbed of Indian cuisine, offering no shortage of meat-free options, they are going to have to work a little harder to tempt the vegetarians to spurn the tried and tested curry houses in town.

STARTERS:

Paneer pakora £3.75

Samosa chaat £4.

SIDES:

Lacha paratha £2.25

Basmati pilau £1.95

MAINS:

Roast Indian vegetables curry £4.25

Aloo palak £4.50

DRINKS:

Bottle of Chardonnay £15.95

1 Espresso £1.80

2 Liqueurs £3.25

TOTAL: £48.05

Food and drink

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