A pub with an epic Indian menu? Stick the Test match on the TV and it really is cricket, says Tom.
The Prince of Wales, an unashamedly old-school boozer in the heart of London’s Southall, has little interest in the finer points of interior design. With faded tartan carpet, tattered floral fabrics and a strictly functional bar, it also has four fruit machines of various vintages, and two vast televisions, one tuned to the news, the other, thankfully, to the cricket. An older Trinidadian gentleman provides running commentary on the Headingley Third Test.
It’s already bustling just after 1pm on a dull Monday, a mixture of regular topers leaning on the bar and larger groups too, devouring a hearty lunch. Joyously multicultural, everyone is drinking, and all seem to be on nodding terms. Beer is excellent (Staropramen on tap, and a perfectly poured pint of Guinness), while service, from the sole barman, is charmingly loquacious. It’s the sort of pub where you could happily while away a few hours, and one made better still by the food.
Rather than the usual sandwiches, pies and chips, there’s an epic Indian menu. Mainly food of the Punjab, as you’d expect in Southall, heavy on the grilled meats, but a full list of curry-house classics too. We start with pani puris, those crisp, delicate pastry cups filled with brisk, sharp tamarind water. Excellent, and at £5 for six, serious value. Aloo tikka chat, that street-food classic, is every bit as satisfying: potatoes and shards of poppadom, tumbled with yogurt, chutney, onions and garam masala, all buried under a flurry of crisp sev noodles. At once sweet, rich, savoury and tart, it’s as thrilling as Jonny Bairstow with his mighty bat.
A mixed grill platter, which arrives spitting and sizzling, needs a table to itself, and is bursting with succulence and succour – two lavishly juicy lamb kebabs, lustily spiced, along with neon orange tandoori chicken wings which we gnaw to the bone. Lamb chops are the only letdown – dry, with the consistency of old jockstrap.
Hey ho, as Bairstow tonks his final six, and England cruise to a Test series whitewash, we dip turbo naan (it’s spicy) into tangy lamb vindaloo (old-school curry house to its chilli-powder core), order another couple of pints and settle in for the afternoon. Wimbledon’s just starting, and to leave now would seem plain rude.
About £15 per head. The Prince of Wales, 202 Western Road, Southall; princeofwalessouthall.com