Our first Desi Pubs and Grill review.
For our first review, we thought it only right that we go to a venue that is synonymous with all Desi pub fans, The Vine in West Bromich.
Situated less than a 1 minute drive from the M5 junction 1, The Vine is very easy to get to, whether in Birmingham or passing via the Motorway.
Situated a 10 minute walk from The Hawthorns, and approx 10 minutes (M5, then M6 junction 9) drive from Walsall FC.
Looks are deceiving, from the outside The Vine, looks nothing more than a front room sized boozer, yet once you walk in, its like Dr Who’s tardis, you enter into a narrow isle, with small rooms either side, this then takes you to the main hub of the bar, walking along this room then leads to a larger dining area, from outside none of this is clearly visible and that is very much a selling point of The Vine, and for those of you who are smokers – the smoking area is dry and close to the building.
A huge amount of draught beers are on sale (The Guinness extra cold is spot on) and the prices are very much in keeping with the West Bromich area, £4.50 most doubles and £3 Carling.
The Vines reputation for food stretches back decades and you will very rarely hear a bad word about it, the standards have been maintained over numerous renovations and this must not have been easy to do.
So first thing (please note I took somebody along who had never been to The Vine, so that they could also add a voice to this review) we order our drinks, staff are polite, we take a menu and sit down in the dining area, this is where the food is prepared.
We choose what we want, BUT, the mixed grill (sizzler) option is not available as it is after 5pm, so this means we must order the things we want on a mixed grill separately, also whilst we look at what to order we become aware, that the mixed grill option not being there also means that the food will not come out as a sizzler as they are separate dishes, this is disappointing and the onions will be sorely missed.
I select a Lamb Curry, my friend chooses Chicken Tikka Masala to go alongside our mixed grill (components ordered separately). My friend then goes to order in the dining area, we are informed that you must order curry dishes from the bar and items from the “Grill” menu at the Grill junction.
He is at the grill area so orders our grill items. He then proceeds to the bar, there is no wait at the bar, so he orders his two curries, pays for them and returns to his seat, you have to ask the question as to why this can not all be done at one central point, a queue at the bar would have meant a wait, to order curry dishes.
To our surprise the curry’s are delivered to the table prior to the items from the grill, we point this out, but are politely informed that, our curries were actually ready, so agree to take them, waiting time which is key when out for a meal is less than 15 minutes, which is excellent.
Lamb Curry – a solid curry, tasty, could have been spicier but overall a solid dish, rather it was piping hot rather than just warm
Chicken Tikka Masala – Again a very solid dish, creamy and plentiful, could do with it piping hot as it was just warm.
More than halfway through our curries we get the nod from the grill that our Grill items are ready, we collect the food, and to our horror they are on a cheap plastic fibre type plate, even the plates you collect to share food on are these tacky plastic fibre plates, using a knife and fork is tricky as you are also trying not to cut through the plate.
Chicken Tikka: Big chunks, not burned and very tasty with the spice being perfect for spice newcomers, could do with more if being honest.
Lamb Shish Kebab: Again very tasty, juicy and great portion size, spice same as the chicken tikka.
Chicken Wings: Very dry compared to the above, yet a lot spicier which is pleasing, very tasty.
We did not finish our items ordered from the grill as we were more than halfway through our curries, and this was kind awkward trying to switch food half way through.
The Vine has a system that works, who are we do bemoan its style of ordering. The added addition of one central point for ordering away from the bar would definitely add to the dining experience, we do not mind our food coming out at the same time, but not the main one before the grill. The waiting time of 15 minutes was perfect as we got settled and hardly noticed how long it had been.
The food at the The Vine is a great starting point for those who wish to explore Desi pubs and what they offer, for those who already have an aligned Desi palate the food is not spicy enough.
The drink selection is good, the food is good, missing a mixed grill (sizzler) is an issue for us, the plates from the grill bring it down a touch, even paper plates are better
Ok, so on the 2nd visit nothing had really changed, the curries are still served before the grilled items, and the curry dishes are still warm and not hot, The Vine is hugely successful and it’s location and reputation still see it getting very busy, but whilst others are lifting their game it’s shame that things are still being ignored, in what is one of the original Desi Pubs. Whilst there for our second visit, the question of a mixed grill was again asked, plates have not changed and the ordering system is still be-musing