IT has been a while since I have enjoyed a good hand-pull, so last week it was time to put that right.
And while The Fly in the Loaf says it's the best in Liverpool for this, I think The Dispensary's cask ales win every time.
She threw back her head and
cackled, reminding me of why
she and her rubber syphons
bewitch me so and how I adore her
In some situations, I am made to feel different because of my size, but not in the Dispensary.
There are many men of considerable girth in Liverpool and I am happy to count myself among them. One half may be keeping the seats and the tills warm in Piccolino every night. Others, like me, sometimes want nothing more than to stare into a quiet pint of Black Sheep. Woman in tow, optional.
Why? Because I have been hard at it on the rank, and on the bimble. These are credit crunched times, and even though I have been on incapacity benefit for 16 years, a man has got to earn an honest crust. I have therefore been working all the collars God sends, even doing early morning special needs runs for Barry's Taxis.
It paid off, and last week, with a ton of readies in one hand, and my Wobbly Bob in the other, I turned off the engine, and turned on the phone to text this ravishing creature from Litherland. Was she doing anything?
An hour later she was there. She had dropped everything, just as I had hoped she would, and the minute she walked into the bar of the Renshaw Street pub I could feel my loins stir.
Unfortunately, it's been like this ever since Pauline got the sack from the colonic irrigation clinic. Up till then, I had enjoyed a “friends and family” perk - and in my sedentary job, it's not only the cab that frequently hits gridlock.
Time then, for nature to take a tube-clearing turn. The essences of Renshaw Street drifted in, and a hot curry beckoned. "U n I," I told her. She threw back her head and cackled, reminding me of why she and her rubber syphons bewitch me so and how I adore her.
The Stone Roses were playing when we got there. Not the Indian Stone Roses who were on at the Summer Pops last year, but the real ones.
Otherwise, the U n I, which is actually called The Cubical Restaurant, is very traditional Indian. It's called Cubical because the place is one long alley lined with curtained booths and your own set of lights in each one, which you can switch on or off at will. A bit like the Fairway, except that has a heater as well.
It is like they are encouraging you, and Pauline was quick to pull the curtains closed and tuck into the dry and crisp poppadoms and pickles which were fresh and endless (£1.50). That's why I like this place.
You get loads. It's not posh or trendy, but a bogstandard curry house, if you get what I mean. A pint of Kingfisher down her (£4.90) and the queen of the flush was turning bright red and roaring with laughter.
As red, in fact, as the King Prawn Butterfly and Puri (£4.50) which consisted of massive tiger prawns encased in a fritter batter that was so vivid it would put the Kop's colours to shame.
It might put some people off, it might scare them, but not me. Texture wise the batter was excellent. The big, juicy prawns were cooked perfectly and the unleavened puri bread was light, delicious and puffy as a pensioner's ankle. Pauline fared less well with her starter of stuffed mushrooms (£3.75). filled with minced vegetables and spices.
However, I realised a long time ago that, where food is concerned, Pauline, like a lot of you, does not have a clue what she is talking about.
She complained that these mushrooms were lacking in flavour. Unlike the third pint of Kingfisher she was necking. So I had them and thought they were perfectly fine. I was paying, after all.
Onto the mains and lamb sagwalla (£7.95) caught my eye. I had had a disappointing and tough lamb curry a few doors down, the week before, in the Samrat, a place that is normally OK, but this one put all the wrongs to right. Tender as anything in a rich, deeply spicy curry sauce, which I asked them to notch up to madras strength, there was plenty of spinach for the ticker and I had no problem polishing off every bit. Yummy!
Across the table I could not take my eyes off Pauline's two large breasts of chicken. As part of Naz's Special (£9.95) they had been stuffed with lemon, garlic, ginger and fresh coriander. There were also creamy potatoes in a light curry sauce and pillau rice to go with them. It was quite massive.
Pauline was starting to ramble about horoscopes and tarot, so when she went to the toilets, about a mile a way, I am ashamed to say I could not stop myself from devouring the lot.
I mean she'd only have left it. As good an Indian dish as you'll find anywhere, apart from the lacklustre side salad, which I don't suppose anyone seriously thinks about eating anyway, and I surveyed my kingdom of empty plates contentedly.
I had been hoping for a night of gorging and passion and gorging, and as the star of the North End clattered down the corridor and pulled those curtains back, staring at me with a twinkle in her one good eye, I suspected that there would be more than one kind of special needs run in the morning.
Indeed the next afternoon, when Pauline said she was willing to give the thumbs up, I told her there was no longer any need.
ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up their bills - never the restaurant, never a PR company.
The U n I
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it; 6-9 get a DVD; 10-11 if you must; 12-13 if you’re passing; 14-15 worth a trip; 16-18 very good to exceptional; 19-20 As good as it gets.
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