Last week I was invited to the launch* of the exciting new A La Carte menu at the Five Rivers Indian Fine Dining restaurant in Walsall. Five Rivers is a lavish, up market Indian restaurant owned by The Five Rivers Group. They have received several awards and accolades including listings in Good Food Guides, British Asian HAFTA Awards 2010, Ethnic Chef of the Year and Hello Curry Winners 2012.
The new A La Carte menu has been expertly created by international award-winning Executive Group Chef, Rashpal Sunner. We were treated to a full tasting menu featuring vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
We started off with some drinks, and I must say the drinks menu was extensive with a wide-ranging selection of wine, champagne, cocktails, and of course non alcoholic drinks including the good old mocktail. As I was driving, I set about trying a few of these and both the Sweet Passion – A concoction of fresh passion fruit, caramel, pineapple topped with a splash of lemonade and Apple Fizz – Freshly squeezed lime juice shaken with apple juice and topped with fizzy lemonade were delicious.
Our first 6 courses were a selection of starters from the menu. These were a Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup, Manchurian,Vermicelli Kofte, Murgh Assiette, Masala Crab Cakes and a Galafi Kebab. The presentation of these tasting portions of starters was flawless, beautiful, precise and full of colour. Our favourites were certainly the Murgh Kebab, a trio of tandoori chicken all with slightly different flavours which were so juicy and tender it made you sigh with satisfaction and the Manchurian which was fresh vegetables bound together and fried served in a tangy sauce with hints of tamarind. That sauce really stood out – if they bottled it, I;d buy it in an instant. The only less favourable point of the starters was that a few of them were very gingery and for me this was a little overpowering, particularly in the soup – it was fine in our little sample portion but I couldn’t have eaten a whole bowl.
A discussion we had during the evening was how to present a curry in an appealing way, essentially its just a lot of veg or meat in a vibrant sauce, but the large, almost banana shaped bowls that the chefs used at Five Rivers were probably as nice as you can get. We had large bowls of Goan Fish Curry, Karahi Ghosht, Chooza Makhani, Tarka Daal and their award-winning Saag Punjabi. A selection of Naan and Roti was in abundance to mop up as well as some cooling raita to sooth the mouths of those who had too much spice! My favourite was by far the chicken dish, the smoky tomatoes in the sauce really shone through and the taste of fenugreek was unusual and put a different twist on a normal makhani. The fish in the Goan curry dish was served as a whole fillet and cooked really well, flaking apart in the sauce as you ate it. I wasn’t as keen on the lamb dish, as the lamb was minced, although the flavours of coriander, garlic and green chillies was great, but others round the table thoroughly enjoyed this also.
Moving on to dessert we were served a trio of Indian desserts, which I wasn’t expecting to like that much. One of the three, a Gulab Jaman, was surprisingly delicious – a fried milk cake ball drowned in honey which was light as air but probably not that good for you! The mini samosa filled with liquid chocolate was not as good as it sounded, and the concept didn’t work for me, others in our party had ones filled with mango or raspberry and these seemed to be met with approval. Vanilla ice-cream in a chocolate cup was decent but nothing spectacular. I never eat dessert when eating out in Indian restaurant but if I see a Gulab Jaman on the menu again, this may just change!!
I’m a huge fan of Indian food and can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed what I tasted at Five Rivers. They are doing some intricate, beautiful food with tremendous flavours and it is definitely somewhere I would head back to again.
Five Rivers À La Carte
Disclosure: We dined as guests of the venue. All opinion expressed are honest and our own. We were not required to write a positive review