Address: 24 Brixton Water Ln, Brixton, London SW2 1PE
Cuisine: Punjab & South Indian
Alcohol Policy: BYOB
Summary: One of a few curry houses in and around Brixton. Good for BYOB and space for larger groups. Food ok.
My friends Pete and Claire couldn't make my birthday drinks so joined me for a curry instead - arguably they got the better deal! As we live around Brixton we were in search of a local option after a few drinks beforehand.
Brixton does an excellent goat curry but isn't blessed with a glut of Indian restaurants. We considered craft beers at the Crown & Anchor followed by dinner in Booma over the road but in the end opted for a more traditional curry house option.
After a cheeky craft beer in the excellent bottle shop, Ghost Whale, we bought a bottle of wine and set off down Effra Road to Khan's for a curry. Here's what we thought.
Khans is situated on the crossroads of Brixton Water Lane and the A204 near the North entrance to Brockwell Park and opposite the quirky nightspot Hootenanny's.
From the outside it looks unremarkable while inside its fairly beige...and brown and chocolate and red. Indeed, a positively autumnal palette adorns the walls and poor lighting doesn't help lift the gloomy mood set by the muddy interior design. Some local artwork adds a bit of life but closer inspection reveals subject matters of light and shade that mimic the shadows cast upon diners' tables.
Black and white, Beetlejuice-esque leather chairs add to the confused rainbow of shades, whilst warped floorboards and tired skirting further indicate that Khan's has sadly seen better days. Downstairs provides more seating and a lot more (vivid) colour but, it's hard to over look the aging elsewhere.
With few other curry options nearby it should still be respected, but it's a low score for Venue from us.
Starters & Sides
6 X Poppadoms
We kicked things off with two poppadoms each which came with some of the most generous portions of dip seen by this blog to date. The poppadoms themselves were sizable but probably microwaved.
We skipped starters but had breads and rice with the mains. I think the pilau rice was brown rice which offered something a little different, while the breads were also very good. The peshwari was nice and fresh and fluffy while the paratha was solid and not too greasy.
No real complaints but nothing standout either. 6/10 but maybe additional starters would have proved enough to merit a higher score.
Murgh Handi Laziz
For mains we chose two meat and one veggie dish.
Used to more reduced-down or finely chopped/sliced veg, the vegetable dhansak felt unusually chunky, with a texture more reminiscent of tinned soup than curry. However, its flavour wasn't bad although not quite up to the sweet and sour standard of other local dhansaks or lentil based dishes.
The chicken dish - the murgh handi laziz - was chosen on name alone. Whilst sharing the appearance of something like a butter chicken this coconut dish packed a far from mild punch as green chilis added a nice piquance to proceedings. However, once again it wasn't quite up to scratch and felt reheated.
The lamb was the pick of the dishes with the meat very tender but in general portions were on the smaller side and so it's a steady 6/10 for the curries.
We didn't find out whether one of the three guys running the show was Khan himself, but did find the service very friendly and fast. We were offered a bottle opener for our BYOB wine before we could even think about asking for one. They also let us stay as long as we wished even though they looked to be closing things down at the end of the night.
The menu also has highly recommended dishes signposted with the initials HR which was also a nice touch.
No complaints. 7/10
Khan's is a bring your own restaurant so value is on the cards from the get go. Whilst portions weren't the most generous around, neither were they the most costly (around £8 on average for a main but some of the specials hit the £12 mark). However, taking quality into account what would've been a 7 gets nudged down to a (perhaps harsh) 6/10 for Value.
I had been to Khan's before as part of a large group and we had a rather rowdy, BYOB fuelled night. I think it's still a great option for larger groups, with a large space downstairs. However, it has seen better days.
All in all, you can't help but feel Khan's suffers from its peripheral location has evidently been left behind in Brixton's recent resurgence as a culinary hub.