London Curry House, Alexandria

I’ve had the food from London Curry House on many occasions in a delivery setting, but I’d never been in before, and was a little taken back to see that it’s in the former Food Matters location. It was weird because I’ve had probably twenty different things on their menu, and here I was for the first time, walking into very familiar surroundings (I used to go to Food Matters pretty often).

This is a pretty classy restaurant – not as upscale as Bombay Club, but you definitely feel like you’re in a nice restaurant, with servers in tuxedo shirts, a nice bar, and very attentive service. The little papri chaat crisps they serve as appetizers are a nice way to begin your meal with a Gin and Tonic.

One insider secret about London Curry House is that their best seller is the Butter Chicken ($15), and this is primarily a sauce dish – you only get a few small chunks of chicken; a much better value is the Chicken Tikka ($17) which comes with probably twice the chicken meat, skewered, and baked in the tandoor. The Butter Chicken is fine, but if you’re getting delivery; don’t ever order two of them – get one Butter Chicken, one Chicken Tikka, and literally dump the entire order of Chicken Tikka into your order of Butter Chicken. You’ll have three times the chicken meat, and there’s so much sauce in that one order that you won’t need any more. I got both of these as a delivery order the night before I left to see Matt off at Indiana University, Bloomington, so this was, in essence, the beginning of my trip. In addition, I got the Gobi Paratha ($4) which, along with the Shahi Naan, is my favorite bread here.

The night before I left, I enjoyed my Butter Chicken, and saved my Chicken Tikka and Gobi Paratha to have on the road the next day, figuring it would be much better than roadside fast food (and it was a good call). Whenever I got a little hungry in the car (it’s a 600-mile trip each way), I’d break off a little piece of Paratha, and have a cube of Chicken Tikka.

I went into London Curry House after I returned, so that was a separate thing entirely, and I made it a point to order something different than I’ve had before. They have pints of Port City Wit ($6.00) and Port City IPA ($6.50) on tap, and I got both, and since it was during happy hour, both were $2 off the prices I listed, making them much more palatable.

For dinner, I ordered the Madras Curry with Goat ($17), which is probably a dozen, mostly bone-in pieces of goat meat in a thick, mild, creamy curry sauce – despite the sauce, it’s pretty much imperative to eat the goat with your hands, pinching each piece with your fingers, or a piece of the Shahi Naan ($4) I ordered – their Shahi Naan is stuffed with finely shredded coconut, tiny bits of nuts, and raisins, and is a really nice complement to any of the curry dishes here.

So there are two visits to the very fine, somewhat pricey London Curry House: my usual delivery (which I used because of my trip), and my first-ever visit – since they have a $35 delivery minimum, I use this restaurant sparingly for delivery – my total bill when I visited, with tax, was only $31.90.

This is every bit as good as Curry Mantra 2 was, perhaps even a step up, albeit more of a, well, London-style curry house than their other restaurants. I should re-emphasize that London Curry House is pretty darned expensive for a Virginia Indian restaurant, but they’re not sacrificing quality for price here – this is really good food, and I for one prefer to pay a little more to support their efforts at quality.

I have no idea why London Curry House wasn’t ranked in Italic in the Dining Guide, but it is now. It is easily the best restaurant in its general vicinity.

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