Reviewer's rating ***** Rex M Key enjoys a relaxed evening at a long-established friendly venue with great atmosphere.
Reviewer's rating ***** Restaurants come and go but at Bridgnorth the Eurasia seems to have gone on for . . . well, 35 years actually, writes Rex M Key. And its standards have never wavered.
I first went there in 1975, when it opened, and I was impressed then.
It is still impressive now, and other people agree because it was a recommendation from a reader which prompted my latest visit, on a Thursday evening.
Arriving shortly after the Archers' broadcast, my wife and I found a busy reception area with smart waiters delivering pre-meal drinks and taking orders.
The Eurasia always seems to buzz, the front of house staff never seem lost for something to do, and in the dining area the activity continues with waiting on staff quietly moving back and forth with sizzling platters, or flaming Hostess trolleys, or relaying tables with black tablecloths, and deep red runners and menus and wine lists and . . . well they are never still.
It is however still possible to relax amid this hubbub, but there is a distinct liveliness about the place.
The menu, as in all tandoori restaurants, is exhaustive. Columns and columns of curries with 15 sections, not to mention the chef's recommendations, and the house specialities and the side dishes and sundries.
Then, at the end, are the six English dishes which were, as far as I could see, thankfully ignored by the discerning diners.
Our table was soon ready and the waiter carried our drinks (mine was a Cobra beer) through to the tastefully furnished and decorated restaurant. Stylish, comfortable chairs, modern, abstract prints on the walls, moderated lighting, black table cloths with red table runner and plenty of room between tables created a civilised and convivial atmosphere.
Two popadoms soon appeared with three dishes containing a tomato dip, a selection of diced salad vegetables and a rather memorable lime chutney, very very good but quite sharp. Plus there was a sauce boat with a yogurt mix. These pre-starter tasters were most enjoyable.
There were 18 starters offering the traditional kebabs, as well as fried prawns, and tikka and pakora and too many others to mention. My choice was the lamb tikka (£3.25). It was top quality lamb gently cooked until beautifully tender. That would be enough, but the nice-sized pieces of meat had been marinated in an expertly chosen spicy mixture making the presentation even better. The green salad was crispy fresh.
Meanwhile, Libby was feasting on the vegetable stuffed pepper (£3.75). It came admirably char-grilled and her first mouthful was met with an immediate "wow", then there was what she described as "an explosion of spices". Very enjoyable.
So far, so brilliant. With something like 144 main dishes the options were almost endless. If I thought I would live long enough I would like to set out and try them all; not enough time or enough extra holes in my belt.
So it was down to the chef's recommendations and I picked the chicken al mashiki (£7.95), tender portions cooked in a massala sauce with ground almond and coconut and served with spinach, cashew nuts and raisins. It was an absolute dream, packed with flavours with a succession of delightful sensations on the tongue. A few more cashew nuts and it would be been perfect.
Having questioned the staff about the comparative tongue-burning qualities of the dansak dishes, Libby ordered king prawn dansak (£8.95). Described on the menu as sweet, sour and hot dish cooked with lentils and fresh herbs. Not as contrastingly sweet and sour as she had expected but very tasty and packing a punch.
We shared a garlic fried rice (£2.45) and a mushroom rice (£2.85), along with a garlic nan bread (£2.35). For me it was perfect, for Libby too much to finish off and still feel comfortable.
I didn't need to have a dessert; truth be told I didn't really have room for one, but I had one just the same. Chocolate and ice-cream confections at the Eurasia are irresistible. My chocolate pavlova dessert was a dream, and nothing like any pavlova I've had elsewhere.
The prices at the Eurasia are amazingly modest. Of the scores of main dishes offered most were in the £6.75 to £7.75 range. Even adding a couple of pounds or so for rice and the same for nan, to get an excellent course like these for a tenner is brilliant.
I had a bit more of the wine, a Chateau D'or Grenache Merlot (and took the rest of the bottle home) and we enjoyed coffees with complimentary chocolates.
The Eurasia did everything properly and, in my fairly limited experience of Indian cooking, sets a very high standard.
Eurasia Tandoori Restaurant, 21 West Castle Street, Bridgnorth WV16 4AB
Phone 01746 764895
Mixed kebab (£3.95); mushroom pakora (£2.95)
Chicken or lamb shorisha, hot dish with mustard,cinnamon, lychee and ginger - bhuna style (£7.95); whole king prawns fried with the shell and cooked with butter, onions and spices (£11.95)
A huge selection of delicious desserts
Buzzing but friendly and relaxed
Friendly, attentive yet unobtrusive
The restaurant is wheelchair-friendly