Diva Indian restaurant, Bentley Bridge, Wednesfield
It's a bit more pricey than a Big Mac but you can't drive-thru which is a rarity in Bentley Bridge, writes Amy Burns.
It is – unsurprisingly – an Indian restaurant and it's based on the Bentley Bridge leisure park in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, alongside the Cineworld cinema, a branch of budget fitness chain Pure Gym, a bowling alley and shops such as TK Maxx.
The surprising bit is that Diva is not a chain, doesn't sell fast food or slices of pizza and you can't 'drive-thru' it like most of the other restaurants located on this leisure complex.
So it's a bit more pricey then a Big Mac...
Well, yes. But this is definitely no bad thing. Despite the slightly unusual setting, this is a bona fide restaurant serving top quality meals.
It's not somewhere teenagers congregate when they want to get out of the cold and if you're combining it with a visit to the cinema (like we were) it makes much more sense to see the film first and then relax in the restaurant afterwards rather than trying to force down a vindaloo in record time before spending three hours in a hot room watching the Dark Knight.
Diva has a great reputation locally and is regularly busy on week nights with huge family groups choosing to meet there for meals.
People definitely travel to Bentley Bridge to visit Diva rather than just happen upon it while out shopping or bowling.
So a curry house in the West Midlands that's, erm, original...
Well actually here, it is. Not only is it the only Indian restaurant on the massive complex but it also serves a range of specialist dishes that you don't get in your average Balti house.
These include exotic-sounding dishes such as the Gosht Achari – a spicy lamb dish, the Murgh Hyderabadi – chicken with ginger, garlic and tomato and Kalahandhi Chicken – cooked with fennel seeds, coconut milk, crushed black pepper and green chillies.
There is also an extremely impressive range of curries for vegetarians with a whole section of the menu dedicated to non-meat eaters. This is always the mark of a genuine Indian restaurant as the majority of religions practiced in India dictate that you should be vegetarian.
The main event then, how was it for you?
Delicious thanks. Luckily for me the waiter intervened when I tried to order a King Prawn Alleppey which although described on the menu as a medium dish of "juicy king prawns marinated in light spices with a tangy mango sauce and melon seeds", he said it actually contains a lot of coconut and is about as spicy as a korma.
Grateful to have dodged that spice-free bullet – that would no doubt have also earned me the eternal disrespect of any curry fan reading this – the King Prawn Boatman (£11.95) proved a perfect alternative.
A hot and tangy dish of prawns cooked in a hot sauce of tamarind, whole red chillies, fresh tomatoes and a unique blend of spices, it was incredibly tasty with a more than subtle kick and the sauce was rich yet not overwhelming.
The prawns themselves were lovely and succulent and cooked perfectly. A dish of Desi fish (£8.95) – a traditional Punjabi recipe – was also delicious. The huge chunks of white fish were again the perfect texture and the spices were combined expertly to create a rich, flavoursome sauce. We cleared both plates – sauce and all – with the help of some boiled rice (£1.80) and a plain naan bread (£1.85).
So down to the nitty gritty any gripes?
Unfortunately there was one. Well, two. When we arrived, our waitress took the drinks order and asked us if we would like any poppadoms.
As we'd been to the cinema beforehand (Brave 3D. Quite sweet, bit weird and featuring a lot of bears) it was already getting on for 9pm and we were starving so we ordered two. Sadly, the drinks materialised but the poppadoms never did.
And just when I was about to get impatient, a waiter turned up with our piping hot mains so we decided just to get on with it. That was gripe one.
Gripe two came later when I got the bill – which included said non existent poppadoms. When I pointed this out, they were quick to deduct the £1 for the missing starter. I now feel stupid for quibbling over a quid but it's the principal of the matter – everyone knows you get what you pay for, you don't pay for what you don't get.
Oh dear. Apart from that though, all's well that ends well?
It certainly is. We were really impressed with the meal as a whole and polished off a pint and a half of Cobra beer with it.
The staff were friendly and helpful throughout and by flashing our cinema tickets, we even got 15 per cent off the bill, meaning the total came to less than £27. Next time I think I'll forgo the film and head straight for the curry house.
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