Ryan’s is a relatively new Indian restaurant which was opened over the road from Pizza Express in the indie-killing concentration of chain eateries around the Cineworld cinema in Loughborough. The main draw for me was that this place does 50% off with a Gourmet card every day of the week as long as you book in advance.
Ryan’s is named after the owner’s son. I assume this was the little fat kid sat at one of the tables at the back of the restaurant near us, playing games and talking this mates on iPad. The owner seems to operate in a state of almost nervous exhaustion with beads of sweat on his brow and a constant worry that things aren’t right with the food. His perceptions seem so far from reality that I find him rather amusing to watch – he’s like the opposite of Basil Fawlty.
We arrived loaded from Revs next door, having enjoyed bubble gum cocktails, an ‘old school’ six shot vodka stick and Amstel all discounted via my Rev’s card. It was our second visit. The first time we came, we found the service very good and the meals a little too loaded with ghee which while tasty at the time gave us tummy rumbles later on.
The interior is nice and modern with slowly changing mood lighting. I counted around fifty seats although it would be a tight squeeze around some of the tables if all the seats were occupied. The clientele seemed more elderly than a lot of restaurants I have been to recently; I’m not sure why this was the case. The music was a mixed serving of contemporary Indian music. We ordered a couple of pints of Cobra and were soon asked for our food order.
Ryan’s is the only place in Loughborough that I can think of where they ask how hot you want the curry to be. Its a tricky question because in my experience even standard dishes such as madras or naga vary greatly in hotness from chef to chef. So when it came to ordering I asked to have if my tandoori special mixed handi as it came. Siggy ordered a chicken mjeda described by the waiter as cheesy and described by me as misspelt, because I could’ve sworn it was majedar. We also ordered a couple of poppadoms and an onion bhaji which came with dips as usual.
What looked like tamarind was more like runny tomato chutney with a consistency of gravy. The onion was finely sliced and sweet. The mango chutney smooth rather than full of lumps of mango and the yoghurt was spicy. The onion bhaji (of which there were two on my plate) was buttery and crunchy around the edges, but not particularly spicy or oniony.
We didn’t wait long for the mains. Siggy’s mjeda was like a cheesy passanda with an overbearing coconut flavour. It was totally inoffensive with nicely cooked chicken but not something I would ever order.
As it turns out a handi at Ryan’s is jalfrezi hot. Again the chicken was nice and tender, and the lamb, while not melt in the mouth, was not too tough. There was a nice little chilli afterburn of heat and a good ratio of meat versus veg versus sauce. The heat was almost but not quite making my nose run by the end of the meal. The vegetables in the sauce were chopped smaller than other places do them – so there were no big chunks of onion or peppers pretending to be meat.
Although I might be confusing the last meal we had a Ryan’s with the one we had at Akash in Blackburn, I’m fairly sure I didn’t get kebab in the mixed khorai I had. This time, in the handi, I did. As they say one kebab in the handi is worth two in the bush. The kebab was crumbly and deeply flavoured with cumin. Or maybe the khorai had been missing a king prawn and again this time there was no prawn. That’s okay I guess – some people with seafood allergies wouldn’t want their ‘mixed’ dish tainted by a prawn. The rice was fluffy long grain basmati and the chilli and cheese nan that Siggy mostly ate was pretty standard.
We then had the usual problem with getting someone’s attention so we could pay the bill. Sure we were given the desserts menu once the plates were cleared but then we were pretty much left to our own devices. Punky the penguin and Vacky the cow were on the usual menu of frozen desserts that every Indian from Lands End to John o’ Groats seems to have. There was nothing made in-house for dessert. Gulab jammum is almost unheard of in Loughborough beyond the buffet places. I popped to the toilets – nice, modern and clean all tiled with square toilets, and an efficient hand dryer. Like a lot of places in Greece, there were two cubicles and a shared sink.
In the end I went up and asked for the bill which got the owner all stressy again in his attempts to give maximum service. If you do go note that the card machine doesn’t prompt you to add a tip so ask for the tip to be added on before they key the amount in (if you haven’t got the cash).