When I was a student I lived in Rusholme, in a big drafty flat with luridly coloured mould growing up one wall and a small family of mice living in the kitchen. I also had a profound dislike for curry. I was the one who would shame-facedly order chicken and chips off the English menu, flinching slightly if anyone else's jalfrezi came near me, feeling left out and miserable.
By the time I moved out of Rusholme four years later, I was of course a curry convert, and my obsession is now such that I have to have my fix at least once a week lest withdrawal symptoms begin. I must admit to hardly ever going to Rusholme these days, although if I ever drive along that section of Wilmslow Road I am practically slavering by the time I've driven out again. The main problem with Rusholme, I find, is that I am too stupid to actually remember which curry houses there are the best ones; in other words, I get confused by the array of neon-lit facades and lose the ability to recall which might be my favourite.
Luckily, South Manchester is well served with curry houses. Last night I was out with a friend known both for his fearsome drinking ability and his great love of curry, so walking into Didsbury seemed a sensible option. Despite the cold and the drizzle, Didsbury was busier than I've seen it for a while; we started at The Fletcher Moss, which is always pleasantly buzzy but was particularly cheery last night, full of affable types drinking pints of mild and perusing the books that are always on sale here in aid of Francis House Hospice (honestly, you wouldn't believe the amount of rubbish I've bought here during a night out).
Our next venue, The Dog and Partridge, was less enjoyable: the combination of a sulky barmaid with a large table of braying loudmouths next to us meant the atmosphere was a little less convivial. I do recall having a quite detailed conversation here about my theory of Brian May - that he would have been taken a lot more seriously a whole lot earlier if he'd only cut his hair. Thoughts on this please?
Our final destination was The Third Eye, where they found us a table immediately and plied us with poppadoms in that sneaky way that curry houses have. The food here is excellent, and while it used to be a slightly poor second to the mighty Great Kathmandu in terms of local Nepalese restaurants, it has now not only caught up but apparently overtaken the Kathmandu if recent reviews are to be believed.
I had the Chicken Pakoda Fritters to start but actually ended up eating most of my husband's Paneer Chilli as well, and then the Makhan Fish for main (with the calories of the rich creamy sauce completely atoned for by my selection of fish rather than meat, obviously). The real star of the table, however, was the humble Vegetable Rice - we ordered two portions between the three of us, but the mountain of rice that arrived would easily have fed about six people. As the plate ended up next to me on the table (fools!) I was able to fork out all the highlights - enormous pieces of silky aubergine, cashew nuts, great lumps of cauliflower etc - with relatively little chance of discovery or retribution.
The bill was £55 for the three of us - pretty reasonable for such a repast, and no need for a taxi home. The rate I'm going, I may never end up leaving South Manchester again...I will try to do better, I promise.