We completed our tour of the disused Aldwych/Strand Underground Station at around 21:40 and had only eaten snacks from the Executive Lounge at the Hilton London Metropole beforehand. So we were looking for a late dinner and a good old-fashioned Indian curry was the choice. Londoners call this ‘going for a Ruby’ as that is cockney rhyming slang after the Irish singer Ruby Murray – Curry.

I hadn’t done any research and was hoping to just happen upon somewhere that looked okay. But I soon realised that the trendy nature of the area meant that although there were plenty of exotic restaurants, there weren’t many traditional Indian Restaurants. I searched on Google and The Punjab was the nearest to our location.

We arrived and they found us a table in what was a busy restaurant. It was exactly what we were looking for; tables too close together, waiters rushing around with dishes, mixture of couples and lads on a night out.

From the posters on the wall and some history in the menu, we discovered that The Punjab is the oldest North Indian restaurant in the UK – opened 1946. I wonder how Indian food was received back then?

We had papadums, dips and large bottles of Cobra beer. Our main course choices (this is what the menu said):

  • 31. ACHARRI MURGHA Punjabi speciality £9.65
    Our famous Punjabi pickle-style chicken, tangy and medium spiced, has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime!
  • 34. CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA (N) £9.55
    No standard recipe exists for this classic dish, however our 1973 formula continues to withstand the test of time, Chicken Tikka served in tandoori masala & tomato based sauce

I asked the waiter if he recommended No. 31 and he repeated the line from the menu “has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime!”.

The dishes arrived. The food was good – but just classic Ruby, not really a once in a lifetime experience. But that wasn’t what we were looking for. Another two large Cobra beers and the bill was £58. Pretty good value for that location.

Open Monday to Saturday noon to 11.30pm
Sunday noon to 10.30pm

80 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9PA

Reservations: +44 (0)20 7836 9787