Canon’s Park

Wednesday June 25 2014


When embarking on a long-term act of lunacy such as this, I feel that it is important to have rules. As this is a review of both the nosh and the tube journey to the nosh, I feel that it is the right thing to get there by tube, even if the journey then becomes rather silly. By Volvo, I could easily have done this week’s   journey from The Gables to the Target Area in around twenty minutes.  Instead, I spent a good forty five on the combined services of the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines, all in the name of journalistic verisimilitude. What a berk.

Canons Park is the last but one stop on the northern end of the Jubilee line. Originally opened in 1932 as part of the then new spur of the Met line running from Wembley Park up to Stanmore, it was also one of the last stations to be designed and built by an in house architect working for the train company, in this case, a splendid chap called Charles Clark. In contrast to the other stations on the spur, which all consist of rather super cosy-looking Arts And Crafts beams, tiles and leaded lights, Canons Park was built as a small but perfectly-formed piece of civic modernism. I reckon Clark was feeling the winds of change blowing through the corridors of power and knew that the boss wanted Art Deco Virtuoso Charles Holden to take the reins, and so CP has the whiff of a good professional man pleading “I can do that too” to try and save his arse. Here it is in 1956-

Old station
And as if proof were needed that everything was better and nicer in The Old Days, here’s a recent shot of it, the beautiful porches replaced with prefabricated concrete slabs, and the magnificent LT roundel on the bridge gone altogether, replaced by a melamine logo on a stick. A bit like replacing the Mona Lisa with a Funny Faces Ice Lolly. And it was probably sold off to pay for another tier of middle management, I’ll be bound-

Mind you, it’s not all bad- On ground level, much of the original wooden panelled booking hall remains.  There are nice proto-art deco skylights still, and some very tasty Arts And Crafts green and brown tilings on the walls of the stairwells. As things will become apparent, one of the facets of our trip to CP was anachronistic juxtaposition of internal fixtures and fittings-just wait until we get inside the curry house-so maybe the whole area sits on the ley line which is responsible for confusion in interior design. Why did Clark choose this site for his modernist self-advert in an otherwise untrammelled empire of traditionalism? Why not the big important terminus up the road in Stanmore? I guess we’ll never know. It was nice to see that the booking hall still boasts a full set of fully serviceable lavs, and in tip-top nick, too. It’s always worth knowing where a chap can nip out and regulate the fluid levels, and so full marks to the stationmaster for keeping the facility on the go. Some googling has revealed that CP is the least used station on the whole Jubilee Line, having a passenger footfall of 1.56 million per annum.  If that was a jazz gig, it would be by far and away the busiest on the planet. I sometimes wonder when statistics like this which reveal what goes on in the Real World, what I’m doing, you know. Here’s a nice shot of the downstairs shortly after completion, in early 1933- the lavs are on the right.

Inside Station
Although for the purposes of the review, I have to keep the focus of the writing on the station in question, a small digression about the journey itself seems appropriate- It was a lovely sunny Wednesday evening in suburbia, and as I was travelling through it for fun and not on my way into London’s Glittering West End, it took on the odd appearance of somewhere new and foreign. Instead of being just the tube journey again, all of a sudden it was Betjeman’s Metroland, where the rural mingles with the domestic. Near Northwick Park, the semis rising out of the hillside were glinting in the sun like bejewelled yachts in verdant harbour of Garden Centre foliage. It was all rather magical. Further Olde Tyme Magic ensued between Wembley Park and Kingsbury.  I noticed that there was a proper old-fashioned whistlestop-although incongruous, I guess it was a harbinger of the anachronistic black hole which lurks in the details of nearby Canons Park.
To get to the Cannons Tandoori, curiously named after large guns, and not the eponymous monks who were granted the area by William the Conqueror, you come out of the station and turn right. There is only one way to do this. There is a small parade of shops there, and standing in the middle of the run is our target. A nice blue and white fascia is decorated with large images of old fashioned cannons, as if to make the point about the monks. I made a mental note that as and when The Curry Underground is syndicated to global TV, the vista from the front of the restaurant must be one of the few which would allow a shot of a train drawing to a halt on the bridge, and with a small degree of panning, a nice shot through the front window to all the goodies within!
For this trip, Callum and I had a couple of Guest Tasters- Her Indoors, and Callum’s sister Lauren. And so it seemed entirely appropriate to form a nice suburban foursome for a Wednesday Night treat. Here are the Ladies nearing the station, travelling as all sophisticates do, by tube.

Ladies on the train
The Cannons Tandoori is brilliant. As soon as you go in, you get hit by that lovely savoury spicy aroma which immediately gets the juices flowing. It is a magnificent example of a well-run, well-established traditional London curry house. When we pitched up, at 7.45, the place was full of families all noshing away- the maitre’d was attired in full evening dress and his lads were immaculately turned out in smart waistcoats and bow ties. I know I sound like an old fart, but we all know it’s often the case that if the details are sound, then the main thing probably will be too. Everyone in there was quite clearly proud to be a part of it, and as it turned out, there is much to be proud of. Mind you, the Can(n)ons Park ley line was much in evidence- I’d put more than a tentative rupee or two that when this place opened, it would have been in full flock wallpaper grandeur with motorised and illuminated pictures of waterfalls, the Taj Mahal, tigers, Ganesha etc. I’d guess that the seats were from this era, but have since been re-upholstered. Sometime in the 1990s there would seem to have been a makeover, in which the flock and iridescent wall hangings were put in the skip to make way for a pale blue paint effect dapple and minimalist art. From the naughties, we have contemporary light fittings which look like matted string. None of this mattered- it smelled great.
Two very polite lads found us a table, and the ordering began.  Callum and I decided that when we are confronted with a proper English-style curry house, I will stick to old favourites, and he will go for the chef’s specialities, to bring you, the avid reader, the fullest picture possible of the menu. Where there are guests, we can fill in more of the gaps. I had for my starter a portion of Lamb Tikka, which was lovely and savoury- chef really knows his way around the spices. Callum ordered a thing called Chicken Taimoori, pictured below-

Chicken Taimoori
There were rather smashing- a cross between chicken Tikka and chicken Nuggets. Delicate, with a nice mix of the familiar (batter) and the exotic (tikka), these would form an excellent dish should you find yourself there ordering for a curry novice, or worse, a curry phobic. In the background of the photo you can see Lauren’s Chana Chat, which was an excellent example of its species.
Main courses were-

Her Indoors-Meat Thali
Lauren-Lamb Roshuni
Callum-Cannons Special
Me- Chicken Vindaloo
Sides- Peshwari, Keema and Garlic Naans, mushroom rice, Onion Bhajee, Bindi Bhajee, quite a lot of Lager.
By 8.45, the table looked like this-

The Main Course
The Cannons Special was a lovely concoction of chicken tikka and keema mince, my vindaloo was sharp, tangy and hot, the Thali ticked all the boxes and the veg were all great, but the stand out dish was without a doubt the Lamb Roshuni, in the centre front of the picture above. A thick fragrant stew filled to the gunnels with slow cooked lamb and garlic, it is a strong contender for inclusion on The Ultimate Fantasy Curry.

Good traditional service went all the way to the end- we had a kulfi and a mango ice cream for pudding, and upon paying the bill, the maitre’d offered us all a complimentary brandy.  Exactly as it should be.  We were musing on the sad fact that there aren’t any gigs in Canons Park, so it’s highly unusual that a chap would ever call in there on the way to or from a gig. It is more than worth a special trip out there though. I’d also add that it would be a good one for a curry novice to take The Great Plunge.
Cannons Tandoori have a website, with reviews. Some idiots have left negative ones. Ignore those.

Inexplicably, the whole lot, beer and all came in with service at £25 a head. Really good.

Cannons Tandoori Restaurant

7 Station Parade

Tel: 0208 952 2501