Note: This review is split into two parts. The opinion of curry-lover Swill, and the opinion of curry-liver, Evo.
Situated on Bridge Street, the President Lounge is located in the ideal place for a curry after an evening in Walsall Town Centre. Opposite Master’s Snooker Club, and formerly the home to the Silver Sea Chinese restaurant, the President Lounge now serves up Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. Adopting the tag-line “Exclusive Cuisine,” the restaurant opened in November 2015 and is up against some hot (and spicy) competition with numerous Indian restaurants, including Golden Moments, Shimla Peppers and Cumin, also located within a few minutes walking distance.
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4. President Lounge
Tameway Tower, 48 Bridge Street, Walsall, WS1 1JZ
Phone – 01922 474148
Food Hygiene Rating – Not yet submitted
Date visited : May 29, 2016
Who visited: Swill, Evo
Written by Swill
Visiting on a balmy Sunday evening, having tanked ourselves up first on lager and ale from nearby boozer, The Victoria, the location of the President Lounge immediately scores some bonus points. With a good variety of local pubs in the vicinity, including the middle-class setting of Lyndon House, the ‘working-class’ charms of Flan O Brien’s, and ale-drinker’s paradise, The Black Country Arms, its prime spot in Walsall town centre is ideal.
Soft lighting and a variety of Asian trinkets ensure the restaurant has a fairly romantic ambiance, while the immaculate white-washed walls gives the impression of cleanliness, and contrasts nicely against the oak-coloured tables and jet-black chairs of its seating area. A bit of glitz and glamour is provided courtesy of the small chandeliers that shine down over guests, while a fish tank (with a suitably exotic collection of marine life, and a couple of not-so-exotic goldfish) is something fun to look at when you’re on the way to the loo. Simple yet elegant is probably the best way to sum up the restaurant’s overall style.
There’s a small bar (unlicensed, but you can bring your own booze) and enough seats for around 40 guests in the main area. The tables are spaced out nicely, ensuring you can have an intimate conversation without anyone overhearing. Style points are slightly lost on the toilets where it would have been nice to see some of the artistic flair from the main restaurant spill over (an Asian-themed picture, or a colourful toilet seat like you find in Golden Moments perhaps), but the lavs were absolutely spotless.
Impressed by the décor, cleanliness and the extremely comfortable high-backed chairs, I was slightly miffed at the fact that Radio One was playing in the background rather than traditional Indian music, which always gets me in the mood for a curry. However, the warm welcome, and good company, soon made up for the lack of bouncy bangla or the soothing sounds of a sitar.
Welcomed by a very attentive and friendly waiter, it was mere minutes before a couple of poppadoms were delicately plonked on the table with three bowls – onion salad, mint sauce and a nice hot and spicy red chutney.
Three pots of poppadom condiments
The menu was vast with a variety of very reasonably priced (approx. £5) curry-favorites (Madras, Bhuna, Rogan etc.) and some delicious looking specials, such as Royal Tikka Bhuna (a chicken and lamb tikka combo with king prawn) and Chingri Karahi (Tiger king prawns cooked marinated & slow cooked with capsicum in special herb sauce with fresh green chillies) priced at around the £8-9 mark.
I decided to opt for the £9.95 special, which turned out to be great value, consisting of: poppadoms, a starter, a main meal, a side dish, rice or naan, and either coffee or ice-cream.
The special offer available at the time
What I ordered
1 x Chicken Tikka Starter
1 x Chicken Kahari
1 x Mushroom Fried Rice
1 x Mushroom Bajii
The Chicken Tikka starter was served with four delectably moist chunks of chicken with a moon-shaped piece of cucumber (must have been running low on the phallic-shaped vegetable), a sprinkling of salad and a slice of tomato. It was fairly small, even for starter standards, but I put this down to choosing the ‘special’ cheaper menu. The tikka was mildly-spiced – I usually prefer this particular starter with a bit more kick – but with the accompanying yellow onions, which deliver a more pungent taste than your standard white onions, I thoroughly enjoyed it and wolfed it down before Evo was even halfway through his starter.
Chicken Tikka – with yellow onion surprise
The Chicken Karahi arrived in its standard metal dish with a mushroom fried rice accompaniment, which was lovely and fluffy with a decent amount of sliced mushrooms adding to its flavour. The Karahi Chicken was an average-sized potion with a handful of coriander sprinkled on top. The meat was lovely and tender and had soaked up all the flavours of onion, tomatoes and peppers very nicely. Spicy without being too hot, the Karahi was flavoursome, filling, and largely faultless in terms of taste, though it once again lacked the spicy kick that was missing in the tikka starter which I usually expect from this dish.
Chicken Karahi – rich and flavoursome
The side dish of Mushroom Bhaji wasn’t as impressive. Having not eaten a bhaji before that didn’t come encased in pastry, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was more like a vegetable curry dish. However, the slices of mushroom felt a little slimy, and conjured up the image in my mind of eating chopped up slugs. Having cooked a fair amount of mushrooms in the past, it seemed like they had been boiled, or defrosted, rather than fried. Luckily, the sauce was very flavoursome with its mild chili kick and, despite being a little oily, I soaked it up with the warm, fluffy rice and gobbled it down.
To top off the evening, a generous pot of steaming hot coffee was served. It was proper coffee too. A complimentary chocolate and some wipes to freshen up arrived, though the latter was more like a baby wipe than the steaming hot flannel or moist cloth that I prefer.
Final thoughts – The President’s Lounge review
The service at the President Lounge was exemplary throughout the evening, though considering we were the only people in there I wouldn’t have expected anything less. An attentive waiter and the friendly boss came over a few times during the evening to see if everything was okay, and he even overheard my comments about being freezing at one point, and swiftly headed over to turn the electric fire on next to me, and closed the main doors. The place heated up immediately. That’s great customer service.
Rating in terms of thumb angle and facial expression
The food was largely delicious without being spectacular, only slightly spoilt by an oily side dish with a mushroom texture I didn’t enjoy. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending the President Lounge, which offered good service, an excellent £9.95 special, and ( overall) some tasty Indian cuisine. Unspectacular, yet tasty, the value for money was tremendous.
SWILL’S PROVISIONAL MONOPOLY BOARD RATING – VINE STREET
Written by Evo
Hi all, Evo here. I didn’t go out for curry on this particular evening, Swill announced he wanted one whilst we were out and I certainly didn’t expect to be resurrecting the marvellous Monopoly challenge, so I didn’t make too many notes but here goes.
It’s strange being in an empty Indian restaurant as Swill said. Without the chatter of fellow dinners the backing music of Radio 1 was as audible as surprising. After a couple of dodgy songs though we were treated to some classic Biffy Clyro and then the superb current song from Blossoms so I was relaxed as the speedily delivered poppadoms were demolished.
I’d joined Swill on the six course meal offer but was slightly dismayed that all the side dishes were of vegetarian origin. I was still pondering and watching passers-by (including one chap who wandered up Goodall Street and came back down a minute later looking more relieved), when the waiter came to take the order and I panicked and opted for chicken tikka masala.
The starter was ace. A superb piece of tandoori chicken and yes it took me longer to eat than Swill his, but when you have to strip every morsel of flesh off the leg like a ravenous vulture it does take time. If it was a Crystal Maze challenge yes I’d be locked in every time.
The curry itself was slightly sweeter than I usually like, but it went down well with a great naan and some lush orange juice. Yes, you read right, it is unlicensed and my take is that if you haven’t had enough alcohol in the pub beforehand then you really haven’t tried hard enough.
Due to the sweetness I left some of the sauce but it was only around the same amount that Swill had got all over the pristine white table cloth and then quickly hidden with a napkin.
Then followed an ice cream. I never order ice cream. I don’t like ice cream vans as they make noise and I’m a miserable old sod, but for the final course it was a choice between coffee and said dairy product. I didn’t go for coffee as I can have that at home so vanilla goodness it was. And it went down in about 30 seconds. Ice cream after curry. It’s the future and cleaned my palate ready for the final pint of the night at The Wheatsheaf.
The toilets were spotless which was good as the cleanliness inspection check sheet was dated around the middle of January. The down side was the lone hand-wash had just a small dribble in the bottom. I have five hand-washes in my home bathroom and I get far less visitors than The President Lounge.
So in summing up, I like this place a lot. This was my third visit since it opened and I’ve not been in Nessa’s during this time so my sub-conscience is maybe speaking. The food was great, staff were very friendly – the door was opened for us on the way out and that’s not happened since the days of Planet Spice. It was excellent value too – especially as Swill paid for it as a late birthday present. Torn between where to stick it on the board. Most expensive yellow – Piccadilly or cheapest green Regent Street? Yeah, I’ll go for green at the moment and I hope it stays there for the final board, but we’ll see.
EVO’S PROVISIONAL MONOPOLY BOARD RATING – REGENT STREET
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