Quirky, friendly and, most importantly, plenty of very nice grub – certainly one to visit once the restrictions are lifted.
Four Ways Bar & Grill is another of these places that are popping up all over the Black Country – a traditional pub that has started selling really nice Indian food.
It’s almost like being able to bring in your own takeaway while enjoying a beer with friends and family, only you’re getting restaurant-quality food at the same time.
My wife, Kelly, and I decided to pop along during early autumn, when we were celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary.
As it was a Monday night, and it was when the lockdown rules were a lot more relaxed, we were looking for somewhere that was family-friendly.
We’d driven past Four Ways, in Portway Hill, Rowley Regis, numerous times but never popped in, but as we were both off work we decided to give it a whirl.
If anyone is querying why the place is quirky, just pop your head into the beer garden – once allowed. There is a brilliant play area right in the middle, but around the outside and even on the roof are huge, life-like statues of everything from the Incredible Hulk and Chewbacca, to Jurassic Park-style dinosaurs.
We’d never seen anything like it before but they really added to the feel of the place, which had a great atmosphere from the moment we arrived.
There was even a huge plasma screen outside, which was showing the football – I honestly had no idea that would be the case . . . sorry, Kelly.
Drinks are ordered and served from the bar – or at least they were before the latest round of restrictions were introduced – and food separately from a little hut.
The menu is simple but perfect if you fancy a curry and drink on an evening. As we hadn’t been before, we had no idea how big the portions would be, particularly the starters. To say we ordered too much would be quite an understatement. Put it this way, I was still eating the leftovers two days later as the staff had been good enough to bag up what we had left to take home.
And the reason I was still eating it a few days later was because it was such nice food.
We began as any Indian meal should begin – poppadoms with a selection of dips, sauces and a little salad. There is no better way to start a meal.
Then it was time to look at the starters, which included the likes of Mongolian chicken – tender strips of chicken tossed with herbs, homemade onion bhajis served with house salad and chutney, and chilli paneer which was cottage cheese served with or without batter, cooked to Fourways’ own secret recipe and finished with fresh chilli, garlic and ginger.
However, I had my heart set on a tandoori, and rather than have it as a main we shared a Four Ways mix grill, which was a freshly-cooked selection of chicken tikka, hariyali tikka, lamb kebab and tikka on the bone. While we were still finishing off our poppadoms the starter arrived – and it’s fair to say our eyes popped out of our heads.
There was a lot of meat, and we’d only chosen the small version, but we weren’t complaining. After all, we were out for a celebration, but more importantly it was delicious.
It was a lovely mix of meats. The majority of it was chicken breast, which was still succulent but also had that beautifully, slightly-charred coating.
The chicken on the bone was a lovely contrast, as were the lamb kebabs and hariyali tikkas, which again were both packed with loads of flavour.
If you fancy popping into a pub once we’re all allowed to play again, and just fancy sharing a tasty meat feast with friends while enjoying a beer and watching some football, you really can’t go wrong. At the same time, however, it was also a great accompaniment for the rest of meal.
Had we eaten all the meat between us, along with the poppadoms and dips, that probably would’ve been enough but this was our first visit so the mains had already been ordered. And they were even better than the starters.
It was all categorised into easy to understand sections – chicken, lamb, fish, etc, and it also had a ‘healthy options’ section. On the menu was butter chicken, chicken Karahi – cubes of chicken cooked in an authentic karahi masala sauce – and the Special Four Ways Chicken Curry, which was simmered in thyme with a celery-based sauce, finished with a touch of white wine. That sounded great.
The fish and prawn section also stood out, with a prawn and saag puree cooked together and finished with a homemade gravy, and a Goan fish curry, cooked in coconut milk and an onion-based sauce, all flavoured with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
Another lovely looking meal was the goat curry, which was cooked on the bone. Customers could also choose their own level of spice, which is always handy.
However, I personally think the best curries are lamb dishes – and it was a toss-up between the Lamb Punjabi, served medium to hot, or the Lamb Lal Jal, which was tender pieces of lamb cooked in a naga chilli-based sauce.
In the end I opted for the latter and it was a good choice. We also ordered a pilau rice and garlic-chilli naan to share.
The meat in the lal jal – a dish I’d never heard of before – was really tender and, if you like a curry with a bit of kick, it was the perfect spice. But the showstopper was the sauce. I won’t even pretend to know what went in it but it was thick, flavoursome and full of wonderful flavours. It took a real effort to stop eating it but after the poppadoms and starters there was a lot of food, so I asked to take it back home, to enjoy again the next day – and the day after that.
The ‘healthy options’ section also had plenty of variety and looked ideal for anyone who may be feeling slightly calorie conscious.
Salmon tikka was sat alongside some very interestingly sounding dishes, such as a Bhindi Do Pyaza, which was okra cooked in a homemade sauce, and a dal makhni, black lentil cooked overnight on a slow fire, mixed with authentic spices.
Kelly loves her fish, so she went for the Four Ways Special Grilled Salmon. The fish was marinated in a special recipe and served with roast baby potatoes, chips or sweet potato fries, all topped with lemon-butter curry sauce.
The salmon was to die for. Cooked tenderly, it had a crispy bottom and plenty of lovely, subtle flavours.
She also went for the sweet potato fries, which did not come served as expected. They were more like a salad potato in size. Lightly battered, they were deliciously savoury and sweet.
Our daughter Annabelle also loves a curry and luckily for her one of the options was a chicken curry, which came served with a choice of rice or naan, as well as a drink.
She was the only one who managed to eat all hers, so it’s safe to say she enjoyed it. Not spicy but with plenty of creamy flavour. Unfortunately, they had sold out of chocolate brownies – which was maybe for best – so she settled for an Oreo ice cream.
Happy as anything, she carried on playing into the evening, making friends along the way while we finished off our drinks, before it was time to go home.We had such a good time we’ll be returning with our friends and their daughter, as soon as we can – and we’d recommend it to others too.