Though the menu is similar, Wall 2 Wall bears almost no resemblance with the traditional style of Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant that’s dominated the region for 40 or 50 years.
There’s no flock wallpaper, no age-old artwork, no need of a new coat of paint. Instead it’s bright and preppy.
There are lights, upside-down umbrellas, and plenty of exposed wood. It looks as though it cost almost nothing to throw together but – and here’s the rub – whichever architect or interior designer took the idea from drawing board to Riverside Walk has done a magnificent job.
For Wall 2 Wall feels funky and a little bit cool. It’s modern and a little exciting, rather than tired and weary.
Marco Pierre White has a tao, which is this: The most important thing in a restaurant is the environment. Eat in a great room and you feel like a million dollars. After that, service is critical. Feel welcomed by your host and you’ll want to return. Finally, the food should be on point.
Imagine that – Marco saying the food is the least important of three ingredients.
But he’s right. At Wall 2 Wall, the food was pretty good – nothing spectacular – the service was hit and miss, but the room itself was magnificent and made us want to return.
The interior design – and the owner, for appointing him or her – deserves a score of ten.
Presentation’s everything and Wall 2 Wall have a bright and breezy website, a cool Insta feed and create a buzz around a site that might otherwise be overlooked. After all, if you gaze through the window, rather than into the dining area, there’s just a clutch of shops and circling seagulls, looking for someone’s chips.
A small stream trickles past too, of course, and when we were there, urban wildlife was at its best as a heron stood waiting, oblivious to the buses and evening workers.
Wall 2 Wall bills itself as an Indian street eatery with a relaxing atmosphere and a selection of authentic, and mouth-watering tapas-style dishes.
There are meat and vegetarian curry bowls, plenty of sides, and a selection of pizzas for those who don’t fancy the spice – which makes a change from the regulation omelette and chips.
The venue offers one of the largest selections of cocktails in Worcestershire, as well as a range of beers and ciders, and the intention is that people enjoy light, casual eating in a relaxed environment. It works.
There was no need for us to book a table – we dropped in midweek, during a quiet time – and as other diners sat in small booths or tables by the window, we browsed the menu.
One waitress was exceptional, a lady who made us feel welcome and had a sparkle in her eye.
The menu was terrific. A selection of tapas featured traditional curry house dishes, from samosa chaat and chicken pakora to onion bhaji and spring rolls.
Yet there were plenty of other, easy-on-the-palette choices, from nachos to chilli, or from fish and chips and Bombay burgers to loaded naans and wraps.
The choice was an enjoyable feature of the evening and it was a welcome opportunity to break out of the usual Indian/Bangladeshi menu.
I started with a plate of salt and pepper squid, which was delightful. Large pieces of tender squid had been coated in a light, golden brown, deliciously crisp batter, then served with cooked peppers, scraps of batter, and shredded spring onions.
It was fabulous, the crunch of the batter being a perfect counterpoint to the tenderness of the squid and sweetness of the tiny dice of cooked peppers. It exceeded expectation and made us feel as though the food might match up to the sparkly, twinkling exterior.
The mains were just as good. My partner had a lamb curry bowl, which featured tender, slow-cooked chunks of savoury lamb alongside shredded onions and a delicate sauce.
The dish was set alight near to the table – theatre, presumably – while a garlic naan provided a good vessel with which to scoop up the pieces. The dishes was thoroughly pleasing.
My butter chicken was equally good, though the rice was a little clumpy and just odd. The chicken had been a little overcooked, unlike the lamb, though the sauce was magnificent; creamy and indulgent, offering great flavour and balance.
On another occasion, we might have stayed for dessert and, unusually, there were selections that felt appetising – rather than the usual plastic penguin ice creams that so many serve.
Our bill was entirely reasonable, the portion sizes were spot on – neither too large nor too small – and we’d enjoyed the experience sufficiently to consider going again.
Service was the one area that might have been better. For all the bonhomie and relaxed charm of one waitress, her colleague was a little too brusque and disengaged to make us feel welcome. Such issues are easily remediated.
And that was our Desi-style dinner.
There’s a restaurant not a million miles away, in Ludlow, that serves Thai food and has a similar approach – with a funky, street-vibey interior and a casual approach to eating. It also brings dining into the modern era, in much the same way that Faheem Badur’s brilliant Indico does, in Birmingham.
Out with the old, in with the new – Wall 2 Wall ticked most of the right boxes for these two, happy diners.