M&M:Munch ‘Five Rivers’ Walsall
M&M:Munch is back with another review and this time it’s Five Rivers’ turn in Walsall. Five Rivers is a prestigious name which has been known among the Asian community for a while as one of the best wedding caterers money can buy; catering for events such as the G8 summit for some of the worlds leaders such as Tony Blair it has built a solid reputation for itself. Now they have turned their hand to a la carte dining at their premises in Walsall which has gone through a stunning renovation. Have a look after the cut what I thought…
High-end Indian dining in Birmingham normally consists of the typical names so I thought why not venture out a bit and with a quick search of Google, I found Five Rivers 20 minutes from Birmingham City Centre. With a quick phone call I found that they offered Halal services upon request and a quick browse of existing internet reviews gave me a sense of anticipation of my experience which I had high hopes for.
The location was pretty easy to find, and parking is available very close. The first thing that strikes you about the place is the decor, simple but extremely effective and done to a very high standard. The exterior has spot lighting and music playing, this is definitely a first! Inside there is appropriate seating while you wait for your table to be ready and drink menus are given. Exposed brick walls and two levels make appropriate use of the limited space available, the space upstairs is definitely the prettier but downstairs was very decent too.
Food: Now to the important bit! First thing I would advise is to reiterate to the waiter that all food prepared for the table should be halal. Popadoms were served first with a selction of sauces. For starters we went for Seekh Kebabs, Lamb Chops and Murgh Malai Tikka. All 3 were served on a bed of mint chutney and fresh crispy salad, which complemented each dish perfectly. They were presented immaculately, the Tikka tasted awesome; chicken breast with cheese melted on top. The Seekh Kebab was also pretty good with a surprise inclusion of some mixed peppers which went down well. The disappointing starter was the Lamb Chops, despite being cooked perfectly there wasn’t much taste to them or as much masala on them as I’d like.
For me personally to properly test a restaurant you have to have a base dish which you judge all against, mine is the Lamb Karahi which I ordered with some naan. Portion size was perfect for 2 people, the dish was cooked really well, right amount of spice and tasted as good as Akbars’ (Manchester) Lamb Karahi, so it is up there with the best. The other main was a Paneer dish which also got a very big thumbs up. The dessert menu is somewhere they can improve on, I just didn’t know what to get and didn’t recognise any favourites, in the end I opted for their take on the cheesecake, which looked stunning but left a bit to be desired for in the taste department. Felt a bit wet for my liking and the crunchy base just wasn’t there.
One of the big surprises on the menu for me was the option for Masala Chai, or Desi Tea to me and you, that I enjoyed once the meal was complete. I loved this addition and urge all Indian restaurants to adopt it on their menus! It was made perfectly and this defintely topped what was a very good food night for me on the whole.
Service: The staff were attentive and always willing to help and answer any questions I had, particularly the Halal one, which they said was in reaction to the demand of halal food. One thing I loved was that the manager seemed very welcoming and went around speaking to diners personally and asking if they were happy, she didn’t come to my table but I could see that there was an emphasis on the overall dining experience. However I would like to see the option of taking leftovers home, I did not understand why this was not possible at Five Rivers.
Atmosphere: The restaurant had a very chilled out relaxing feel but still retained that high end feel, there was music on throughout the evening but was played at a level that didn’t disturb any of the diners. It is an appropriate place for both friends and families, there were not many families there but I could see them fitting in pretty well. The restaurant has been done up to a very high standard and it definitely adds to the overall dining experience.
Price: There is no question that Five Rivers is on the more high end of the market with it being approximately £20-£25 a head, however what it gives in return is a dining experience that is up there with the rest of them and even comes on top in certain areas. Five Rivers for a occasion, definitely!
Verdict: I had big expectations going to Five Rivers and it definitely lived up to them. The atmosphere and service could not be faulted. For a Friday or Saturday night I would advise to book in advance as I imagine they could get quite busy but for a weekday just pop in and they should have a table available. The food was very good, the lamb chops and dessert weren’t bad but did not match up to the level of the other dishes that were on display. The option to take away left over food I would like to see implemented as wasting food is something which should be discouraged as much as possible. The tea however was the added bonus for me which I honestly loved! In all I would give Five Rivers a 8.5/10, an amazing overall dining experience just down the road from Birmingham, definitely worth a trip for something special.