Majjo's of London
Ever since I learned of the existence of Majjo's Foods, the wonderful family-run restaurant of delicious home-cooked Indian cuisine, I've wanted to introduce it to my friend who works around the corner from its central London branch.
It's taken me one year to find the opportunity to do so. Heaven knows how many times I've told my friend about it.
We left his office on High Holborn and crossed the road to the northern end of Drury Lane. Almost as soon as we entered the corner restaurant, the owner Mariam nd her brother looked up with jubilant surprise.
"Anne!" they simultaneously cried. "What are you doing here? It's been ages."
"Indeed it has! I didn't want to tell you I was coming in case I couldn't make it ---- like the last time. But I've been wanting to come back so many times! So I decided to surprise you today."
My friend was overwhelmed by the obvious familiarity I exhibited. It's not usual that you go into a restaurant and know the proprietors so well. After we sat down, we noticed that the owner seemed to know everyone who visited. There was a feeling of home, that warm sensation of familiarity and comfort I rarely experience in restaurants in central London or indeed anywhere else.
"Today we have fish curry. You will like it," said the man behind the counter. I've met him before but his name eluded me.
I took my friend to the counter and told him to look there rather than at the menu on the wall. We both chose fish curry and a variety of vegetables to go along with it. Then we sat down, he to sip his iced salty lassi and I, my hot masala tea.
When Mariam first served the food in her home, I was impressed by the freshness and her sense of pride in describing how each dish was cooked. Here was a young lady who left her banking career to run the family business, a restaurant started by her mother twenty years ago. Now her sister-in-law runs "Treasure Seeker" downstairs, a heavenly find of exotic handmade accessories and handpicked gifts from around the world.
One day family-run restaurants will be a rarity as property rentals become only affordable by big chain restaurants. I hope not. The owner's personality and vision are woven into the fabric of the business. There is tender loving care in the treatment of their guests. She greets them warmly and never forgets to ask for feedback.
"How was it?" she asked.
"Absolutely delicious," I said.
"I will definitely come back soon," said my friend as he left.
Somehow knowing the owners and knowing how they cooked the food made all the difference in the world. It's like eating gourmet food in the comfort of home. No wonder they are so busy at lunch time!
14 August 2004 Saturday
Majjo's Foods Covent Garden