During our very first visit to Falkirk, before we decided for sure that we would move here, we visited a tapas restaurant called La Banca. Apart from slightly overly salty squid, the food was pretty good and the restaurant was one I planned to return to. Even so, it hadn’t been very busy and I wasn’t all that shocked when it vanished not long after we moved.
After a while as an empty lot, Bukharah/Bilberry opened. Now, that rang a bell. I seemed to remember having seen something similar somewhere before. Sure enough, there’s a Bukhara/Bilberry in Glasgow. Bukharah being the Indian restaurant side of the business, Bilberry being the cocktail bar side of the business. Yet, somehow, I’d never been?
Doesn’t seem like me? Well, in Glasgow it’s extremely close to Mother India, one of my favourite restaurants of all time, and also extremely close to the Finnieston strip, which is full of great restaurants and cocktail bars. Honestly, I just never made it that far down the list of places to try. Still, I knew that was something I should really correct, and when they opened their Falkirk branch that struck me as a perfect opportunity. It still took me a while to get around to a visit but on a whim last Monday we went.
For Falkirk, on a Monday night, Bukharah actually managed to draw a few groups of people and we were far from the only customers, although there would have been no need for a reservation and, understandably, the cocktail bar area was empty. Not being in a cocktail mood (it does happen!) I ordered a beer and took a look at the menu.
For once, P believed that he was hungry enough to manage a starter and a main by himself (spoiler alert: he wasn’t) which meant that I didn’t feel obliged to share chicken pakora with him. He ordered that, and I went for one of my favourites: mushroom poori. I had a bite of his chicken pakora and it was good but far from the best I’ve had – I think the batter could have been crisper. Meanwhile, my mushroom poori was very satisfying. Soft, slightly flaky pancakes with rich, hearty, well-spiced filling. Honestly, I could have just ordered two of these and skipped the main.
Instead, P chose a Butter Chicken, I opted for a Chicken Handi and we went for our usual one rice, one Peshwari Naan combo to share. Again, P’s Butter Chicken was what I’d call, “ok.” Maybe I’ve been spoiled by trying too many versions of Butter Chicken in too many restaurants and it’s one of those dishes that can be absolutely amazing or just not-quite-a-korma and a bit bland. This was dead between the two – not bad, but nothing special going on either. He seemed to enjoy it enough but I wouldn’t order it.
Meanwhile, I had chosen my Chicken Handi in part because it was served on the bone. I’ve yet to be served a curry that involved meat on the bone and not find that it just really excelled in terms of flavour and tenderness of the meat, although sometimes at the expense of quantity. That’s exactly what I found here. Chicken Handi is a South Asian dish and Handi refers to the kind of dish it’s traditionally cooked in. In terms of flavour, it’s a lot like a Balti, although this one was a fair bit hotter. As I said – amazing flavours, but slightly less actually chicken than P got in his meal, not that I minded, as there was more than plenty.
Throughout our meal, the staff were amazing. Attentive and friendly, cracking jokes and checking up on us. When we admitted defeat a waiter said “take your time, relax, finish your beers. If you still can’t manage another bite when you’ve had a rest I’ll box it all up for you to take home.” Nice guy. As he was boxing it up for us the manager came over for a chat too. I guess it was a quiet night but I also get the impression that this guy wants to get to know his customers, which I thought was a nice touch.
So, although some dishes were better than others, I think we’ll be back. There’s more on the menu that I want to try and I need to visit at the weekend to give those cocktails a go, if nothing else.