Glowing review of Bristol’s third best restaurant by Mark Taylor on emotional night of Queen’s death

The announcement of The Queen’s death was made just before I walked into The Curry House in Arnos Vale

My first food review for Bristol World won’t win any awards from the Guild of Restaurant Critics because I really can’t remember too much about the meal.

Well, I do recall the important stuff - the food - but the rest of the evening at The Curry House on Bath Road is a bit of a haze to be honest.

And, before you say it, no it wasn’t the wine (a nicely chilled Australian Chardonnay) that caused my selective amnesia - I only had a couple of glasses.

But then a stiff drink was certainly in order because two minutes before I arrived at the restaurant, the news had just broken about the death of the Queen.

As prepared as we thought we would be for it, the announcement was still a hammer blow. The rest of the evening was a blur of emotions and reflection but I still had to get a restaurant review in the bag.

Still, when my grandchildren ask me where I was the night Elizabeth II died, I can tell them I was at The Curry House near Arnos Vale Cemetery.

The stylish new interior of The Curry House on Bath Road

And in some ways, it seems quite appropriate that I was at least eating in a restaurant as long-serving and well-loved as Her Majesty.

The Curry House opened in 1983, meaning it is already preparing for its 40th birthday next year. And if they don’t capitalise on the Ruby Murray/curry angle on their ruby anniversary, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

It also seemed right to be eating the adopted national dish on the day the Queen died. After all, it was an Anglo-Indian curry dish that was invented for her Coronation 70 years ago.

The Curry House was started by Mohammed Mashuk, who opened the doors in 1983, originally as a takeaway which he ran until he passed away in 1999.

Sons Hassan and Rob have continued to run their parents’ business since his death and the restaurant has gone from strength to strength, with sons Abdul and Abul in the kitchen.

Chicken tikka garlic masala with naan bread and rice

A stylish refurbishment during the lockdown has been followed by the acquisition of the next door building and land at the back.

There are now plans to extend sideways and at the back with a new kitchen and cooking school.

On the day I visited, The Curry House was ranked number three (out of 1,163) restaurant in Bristol on TripAdvisor with a rating of 5/5. After 40 years, that’s some achievement.

And it was doing brisk trade on Thursday night, with the back room packed with a large group and the rest of the dining area filling up by 7pm, including many regulars known to the owners on first-name terms.

With its white and grey walls, contemporary furnishings and back-to-back 1970s/80s disco classics in the background, The Curry House is a world away from the flock wallpaper and booth seating Indian restaurants of old.

The menu covers all the old favourites as well as tandoori grill dishes, biryanis and chef specials.

I kicked off with king prawn puri (£7.50) which was as good as any version I’ve had elsewhere in Bristol. The juicy prawn pieces were coated in a lightly spiced sauce tucked inside a lacy, greaseless puri bread.

Saag aloo is one of the popular side dishes at The Curry House

The main courses are all served as complete dishes with naan bread and rice and range in price from £13.50 for vegetable dishes to £17.50 for lamb.

My chicken tikka garlic masala (£17.50) was a deep bowl of tender chicken breast pieces in a thick sauce studded with slices of garlic and onion.

The accompanying triangles of puffy, buttery naan bread and dome of loose-grained pilau rice soaked up the excess sauce.

A side of saag aloo (£4.50) was a generous bowl of curried new potatoes that had retained their bite, mixed with mossy chopped spinach.

On the next table, a man who lives around the corner was tucking into his curry, enjoying a solo meal while his wife was out with friends.

And that’s what The Curry House has become over the past 40 years - a great local restaurant that’s a boon to people living nearby, but also a venue worthy of a longer journey as a dining destination. That well-deserved ruby anniversary weekend can’t come soon enough.

The Curry House, 393 Bath Road, Bristol, BS4 3EU. Tel: 0117 9779090.