I took the trouble and strife, sometimes referred to in loving terms as the cows and kisses, in my best whistle and flute, for a Ruby Murray. She’d spent ages on her Barnet Fair. I was in a right two and eight and just wanted to get in the jam-jar because I was Hank Marvin.
To be totally accurate, we’d booked a table at the Ruby Murray & Terrace, the British Club of Bahrain’s Indian restaurant, which only opened seven months ago and has built up a glowing reputation amid members and guests.
For the uninitiated who had trouble understanding the opening paragraph, the venue’s name is a clever play on Cockney rhyming slang, the sort of language I grew up with in the East End of London.
Ruby was one of the most loved singers in the British Isles in the 1950s (in 1955 she secured seven Top 10 UK hit singles, including Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye and her popularity led to her name being adopted in Cockney rhyming slang as a rhyme for ‘curry’.
The reference to ‘having a ruby tonight’ appears in the famous BBC TV comedy series Only Fools and Horses. And, amongst the best places in town to enjoy a ruby in Bahrain, (a dish, I hasten to add, that now outsells fish ’n’ chips back home) is situated in Umm Al Hassam.
The Brit Club, which continually lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s top expat clubs, has delivered a delightful dining destination capturing a lot of what makes British-Indian the best cuisine ever invented, apologies to my very good Indian friends on the island but you really don’t know what you’ve been missing!
The ambience is perfect from the moment you step inside, with excellent little enclaves and comfortable bench-like seating that you can slide into, so perfectly British in style and grace with perfect pictures in Asian elephant carved wooden frames highlighting Indian landmarks and the odd, scattered elephant model on display. I mean, who doesn’t love elephants?
The service is five-star, as warm and as welcoming as you’d expect back in Blighty, superbly orchestrated by restaurant manager Sonu Mishra and delivered with impeccable timing by his waiting team.
It looked like Executive Chef Tausif Valli Mohammed Golandaz was up for the challenge of matching the front of house service with a delightful choice of cuisine.
As soon as we sat down a colourful plate of crispy crackers arrived on the table to dip into the bowls of pickles and dips, and our chosen appetisers swiftly followed. We shared an Onion Pakora (must be a posh bhaji), a crispy mixture of seasoned chickpea and flour battered onions served with refreshing mint chutney (BD1.500) and Bharawan Aloo (BD3.200) an absolutely lush mixture of herbs, nuts and spices encased in whole potato skins and baked in a tandoor oven.
This is absolutely stunning and mouth-wateringly wonderful, a treasure unearthed. It’s almost too good to be on the appetiser section and really ought to be highlighted on a special House Favourite of Chef’s Speciality section, I would suggest, next time the exec committee decides to reprint the menu!
Still licking our lips, although there are many other dishes to choose from such as Saag Gosht, a popular lamb and spinach number, or the Balti Dal Makhani, lovely lentils in a pot of perfection, we were here for the Ruby.
There was madras, vindaloo and a fiery phaal to tempt our palates (all curries are served with a choice of steamed or cumin rice / naan bread / chips) or Britain’s Number One Tikka Masala, but it seemed appropriate to go for the aptly-named Ruby Murray House Curry with cuts of chicken breast (BD4.200).
The meat was perfectly cooked and the sauce, a smooth and rich blend of nuts, fresh coconut, onion and cream was perfect for the naan bread to soak up.
Not wanting to cause any Barney Rubble, they do, however, need to work on the Peshwari Naan (this is the point where my great friend, Gopal, gives me grief about it being a dessert because it has sweet coconut inside, which every Brit will testify makes it the ultimate curry companion). It needs to be much thicker to really do the soaking up job properly.
To accompany the curry we went for the Ruby Murray Special Mixed Tandoori (BD6.500) to share, cooked in the club’s traditional charcoal oven to maintain the moisture and softness in meat with that distinctive chargrill smokiness it’s so hard to replicate at home on the BBQ.
This is a treasure trove of taste with chicken, fish and prawn tikka, alongside a Reshmi kebab and lamb chop and it worked wonders with the army and navy left over from the curry!
Although fabulously full, chef insisted we tried a small selection of desserts (back in Blighty the choice is normally frozen ice-cream or frozen ice-cream, so old the ice is frozen over the plastic lid and it’s time to go home before you’re able to open it). Not so, Ruby Murray, where fresh desserts are the order of the day; traditional Indian dumplings Gulab Jaman, smooth and creamy Pistachio Kulfi and Carrot Halwa, sweetened, grated carrots cooked with spices and nuts, a new one on me.
When the weather in Bahrain is behaving the Terrace pulls the crowds with its live cooking station and when it’s hot and humid the restaurant offers a cooling retreat with wonderful warming fare. We’ll be back, alligator. I suggest you have a butcher’s too.
For further details and to book a table, call 17728245 or visit http://britishclubbahrain.com
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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