Spicing up tradition at Underwood Lockhouse

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You would expect to find haggis and mince and tatties on the menu at a traditonal Scottish restaurant, not one that has made its name serving fine Indian cuisine.

But Underwood Lockhouse on the banks on the Forth & Clyde Canal didn’t earn its reputation by sticking to the rules.

So haggis features as an ingredient in both pakora and a made-to-order curry, while keema aloo was recommended to us by the manager and is described as mince and tatties cooked in a delicious blend of Indian spices. Very good it was too.

The menu starts off by giving a bit of history behind the building we’re eating in – built as stables and accommodation for the lock-keeper in 1770 – before going on to outline the numerous European favourites on offer.

Tempting as the array of classic dishes, steaks and pizzas were, it was curry we had come for and curry we were going to have.

After a long debate, and almost settling on the chicken chaat and haggis pakora, the waiter suggested we go for the special platter, offering a selection of starters for two people (or three in our case as four-year-old Calum was determined to have his share).

It was a good choice as, although I missed out on a taste of the haggis pakora, the other offerings more than made up for it.

I think you can always judge an Indian restaurant by its pakora – thick and greasy batter, give it a miss; light and crispy, you’re on to a winner – and the Underwood Lockhouse certainly scored in that respect. The vegetable, mushroom and chicken variations were all cooked to perfection.

I’d also highlight the chicken chaat and extra-spicey samosas which were almost worth the price of the dish on their own.

Moving on, my choice of main was partly governed by the pictures Herald photographer Lisa McPhillips had taken earlier on in the day but I’m a big fan of tandoori so the chicken sizzler was right up my street.

And sizzle it certainly did!

You could hear the dish was on it’s way from the other end of restaurant and it prompted many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from Calum as it was place in front of me,

Served on a large board complete with rice, curry sauce, salad and naan bread, it certainly looked the part and it only took one mouthful to confirm the fact.

I’m always wary of undercooking chicken so my homemade dishes tend to end up rather rubbery. Here, however, they got it down to a fine art and the meat was so tasty and finely spiced that the curry sauce, delicious thought it was, was applied sparingly.

The rice was light and fluffy, ditto the naan bread – both a million miles away from the stodgy efforts you sometimes get from takeways.

On the other side of the table, my wife Pauline was full of praise for the chicken chasni, while Calum curry-smeared face was all the evidence you needed that he was enjoying mopping up the remnants of his chicken korma with chunks of my naan.

You don’t really go to Indian restaurants for the sweets but, nevertheless, Pauline enjoyed a very satisfactory orange sorbet while I sampled a very creamy and tasty latte.

All in all, it was a fantastic meal and, with the restaurant offering a free pick-up and drop facility in the local area for groups of two or more, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

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