With the closing of the Mahal, Cambridge lost its staple swap venue. Here, TCS runs through the contending inheritors for the Mahal’s curry crown.
Curry King/Curry Garden. £12 for food and wine.
These venues offer the classic swap experience: minimal décor, cramped tables and distinctly average curry.
Pros: Conjure up memories of the Mahal for those still mourning its untimely demise.
Cons: While the owners are generally permissive of boisterous behaviour, they draw the line at full-on poppadum fights which some see as the staple of a curry-based swap.
Clowns. £12 for food and wine.
Located near Jesus, Clowns is a good alternative for those who prefer average pasta to average curry.
Pros: With swapping parties tucked away upstairs, the scope for daring challenges and fines is almost limitless. TCS has received reports of full-on nudity, although these are still to be confirmed.
Cons: The creepy pictures of clowns which bedeck the walls. They can be a sobering sight even in the midst of the most debauched swap.
Mai Thai. £20 for food and wine.
Mai Thai often entertains regular customers alongside swapping parties: a bit of extra (Dutch) courage may be needed to undertake challenges in the presence of strangers.
Pros: The high cost is reflected in the superior range and quality of food.
Cons: Mai Thai is a large venue: you’ll need a big group to fill the space. Not one to book if your society is known for being flaky.
Sesame. £10 for food (wine not included); £12 with karaoke. For an unusual addition to the swap experience, Sesame offers karaoke along with its unlimited Chinese food.
Pros: Handily located right next to a Tesco and a wine merchant’s if supplies need to be replenished.
Cons: Sesame is a long way from the centre of town: you’ll need good endurance to make it all the way to Cindies post-swap.
Giraffe. About £17 for food and wine (with student discount).
A more sophisticated alternative to the standard curry house, Giraffe has an upstairs room for swap groups.
Pros: The food here is the best of the lot. If you’re looking for a good meal along with your chat, this is the place to go.
Cons: Noise complaints tend to be more frequent than at other venues – (relatively) good behaviour is required if you want to get your food.