It’s been a while since I last enjoyed a curry, and given that while in Manchester I would often enjoy a curry most weeks; ‘Hunters’ in the Northern Quarter, ‘Khan Ba Ba’ or ‘Akbars’ on Liverpool Street, or one of the Nepalese restaurants in Didsbury.
I was therefore delighted when a friend suggested that, as our wives were heading out for a girly night, why not go for a curry?
Normally we would visit the Royal Tiger (our ‘ethnic’ restaurant of choice), but they were holding an ‘X-Factor’ themed girly night of their own, so we passed on that. I had asked the regulars in my local pub and checked the gossip on the local social media page, and ‘The Nawab’ was suggested.
South Woodham Ferrers is ‘blessed’ with a wide variety of ‘ethnic’ restaurants. At the time of writing there’s a Thai ‘eat in’, a Thai take-away, a Chinese ‘eat in’, at least three Chinese take-aways, a couple of kebab/grill take-aways, a chippy and at least three Indian restaurants – down from a maximum of five.
From memory the Nawab is now the longest established Indian restaurant in the town, having sat above the fish and chip shop for over twenty years to my recollection. Of course different management have come and gone over the years but, like Trigger’s Broom, the intrinsic restaurant that is ‘The Nawab’ remains.
That said, it must be at least ten years since I last tried The Nawab, but it was a Friday evening and we just fancied a simple, straight forward ‘ruby’.
The entrance is less than enticing, a doorway in an alleyway, above the aforementioned Fish & Chip ‘restaurant’, opposite another Indian take-away, and just down from a Chinese take-away.
Up the stairs and you’re greeted by a few chairs for people waiting for Nawab take-aways and a bar. Beyond the bar the restaurant seats are set in small back to back booths, but without the booth divider, if you get my drift.
We arrived reasonably early, on a Friday evening and were shown to our ‘booth’, we ordered drinks while we perused the menu, which is basic ‘English’ Indian fare, Dhansak, Korma, Madras, Vindaloo, Biryani. The usual suspects, nothing too adventurous.
My friend ordered a Chicken Chat starter, while I ordered Tandoori Lamb Chops, they arrived promptly (the restaurant was still empty) accompanied by a generous side salad which went a little beyond what you’d normally expect, including olives, cherry tomatoes, and salad dressing. My friend enjoyed his Chicken Chat, while my Lamb Chops were tasty and reasonably well cooked. I would have preferred a bit more cooking to caramelise the tandoori marinade, and that would probably have saved me from the worst attack of tandoori pink fingertips that I’ve suffered for a long time.
Our main courses followed promptly, the service was, for the most part, excellent – the only exception being when I was asked – presumably by the manager – if I wanted mint raita with my Lamb Chops. That never arrived, if you’re not going to listen to the answer, don’t ask the question!
Main courses? We both ordered Biryani, and shared a side order of Mattar Paneer (cheesy peas). The main course portions were fine, and while the side dish appeared a little on the small side, it was enough. I always request my vegetable curry (accompanying the Biryani) to be served Madras heat, and they complied – with a small ‘bird’ chilli sticking out of the sauce, presumably to identify it to the waiter! I think Biryani provides a good guide as to the quality of an Indian restaurant’s food, and both of ours were really enjoyable. Not too dry, with a reasonable meat content.
Drinks-wise as you’d expect there’s a choice of lagers, Kingfisher and Cobra, either of which goes down well with a curry, and a reasonably well stocked bar.
Over all, yes, it’s under new management, but the service was fast and attentive, and yes, the menu is not adventurous, but for a basic curry at a good price (two courses each, with a drink, on a friday eveing for about sixteen quid each), it was a good choice for the evening.