WE’RE nothing if not ahead of the curve in this restaurant column so fully a week before the historic announcement that Paisley makes the shortlist for 2021 UK City of Culture Sean and I are already here. Eating curry, talking mince, scoping the place out.

Based entirely on the journey round and round the one-way system in search of the Multan Tandoori, Paisley should probably be a candidate for Unesco World Heritage Site too.

Truly spectacular Victorian buildings loom suddenly from side streets, in contrast to the boxy municipal concrete blocks which remind me of Glasgow in the 1970s, and there are pieces of every architectural style from the magnificent to the appalling frozen in aspic.

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Sir Rod Stewart, of course, is apparently never away from the town. Disappointingly they’re not playing Baker Street by the late Gerry Rafferty as we turn our attention in the restaurant towards the starters.

If you were to bring a visitor tonight and flick through the many, many pages of the Multan’s menu you could easily say this is the way we were back in 1988 when it opened. Before poncy restaurant critics like me started moaning about one-pot curries, ghee-laden everything and started demanding light, fancified food served up in those small dishes that are now the curse of every menu in the land.

It would be wrong also to say the plastic-covered menu here is reassuringly sticky, but it is. That the specials section, normally my first port of call, runs to so many pages that I give up and just order randomly, while thinking that if this place was in the States it would probably be a national treasure and folk would be queueing out the door.

We have the mixed platter for two to start anyway, a medley of mixed pakora, chicken chatt, onion bhaji and chicken tandoori wings. This is the food of Scotland games, pints of heavy and post-pub fill-ups and we eat the lot nostalgically. It’s pretty much exactly how I remember it to be too: crispy, crunchy, well cooked and strangely satisfying.

Sean – who lives in Paisley, works for this very newspaper and is the actual person who cuts all the jokes out of this column – recommended the Multan on the grounds that this could easily be the city of culture in a few years. Having recently watched the BBC documentary The Town That Thread Built I had already started thinking about Paisley in an entirely different light.

Anyway, Sean has a lamb rasandar for his main course. This is billed as lamb in a royal massalam sauce with,

ahem, red wine and herbs and ginger. Really? Odd as it sounds the sauce is deep and full of flavour and kinda tastes like a curried beef bourguignon. In a good way.

My point-a-finger-at-the-menu approach has brought up a chicken chutney, which is described as barbecued meat in a Multan chutney sauce. How best to describe it? Kind of sweet and sour flavouring in another sauce that’s so rich and packed with so many flavours it could sink the Bismark and very nearly sinks me as I scrape up the last few remnants and slump momentarily into a coma.

It’s a Monday night in here. There’s one couple in the restaurant, also two guys in one of the booths talking animatedly, and the door swings open regularly as folk come in to pick up takeaways. A single waiter hangs languidly at the counter area waiting for the kitchen to give him the green for go.

This could easily be a scene from 20 years ago and it is mildly surprising to see it being played out at a time when restaurants are constantly changing and modernising – usually with catastrophic results.

The Multan, then. It has a good name in Paisley and it’s easy to see why: big dishes, big flavours, big portions. Reassuringly familiar.

Multan Tandoori

5 George Street, Paisley (paisleymultan.co.uk, 0141 889 4426)

Menu: It’s big, it’s very Scottish-curry house traditional and if you hanker back to the good old days then it won't disappoint. 3/5

Atmosphere: Authentically retro right down to the sticky plastic. One day these places will be the height of fashion. 4/5

Service: Quiet Tuesday night and just one waiter on who was pleasant and efficient. 3/5

Price: Main course curries hover around the tenner, starters can be had from £5. Neither cheap nor expensive. 3/5

Food: Curry house that has been serving since the 1980s and hasn't changed much. Big sauces, big portions, big flavours. 7/10

Total 20/30