Cheap isn’t necessarily good.
Cheap can be expensive if the purchase turns out to be unsatisfactory.
But that was far from the case with the £6.75 I spent on a chicken curry at the Punjabi-run Covered Wagon pub in one of Moseley’s less fashionable areas.
At less than seven quid, the desi-style chicken represented incredible value.
The poultry itself was of decent quality – firmly textured, moist and flavoursome.
It came in a tomato and onion sauce that was almost jam-like in its density, its caramelised sweetness a contrast to some fierce chilli heat.
Matchstick-thin strips of fresh ginger added a nice fruity freshness.
This was a dish that must rate amongst Birmingham’s dining bargains.
As did the whole meal, to be honest.
Which, for four people, weighed in at a few pence over £65 for several drinks and an enormous amount of food, most of which we managed to finish.
But let’s not get too carried away.
There’s no finesse about the Indian nosh at the Covered Wagon.
It’s simply hearty stuff cooked with knowledge, skill and care.
Ingredients are good, sauces are distinct and the spicing might lack the deftness of high-end Indian gaffs, but hits the target.
The pub itself, I’d guess, dates from the 1970s and, outside, is bland.
Inside it’s light, spacious and the decor is tasteful and unobtrusive.
It’s one of the new wave of desi pubs – smarter versions of the unassuming places that for many years have been enticing curry-hunters to the inner-city and Black Country.
Staff are friendly. Service is a touch haphazard but efficient. There’s a good buzz about the joint.
Our table almost groaned under the weight of the grub we ordered.
There was a daal that was simply superb – a runny pool of lentils that was buttery, earthy and comforting.
Saag paneer and aloo gobi were both delightful.
Various breads were perfectly good.
The large vegetarian sizzler we ordered would have filled four less ravenous customers by itself.
Let’s have a moan – the onions weren’t burnt enough to give it that sticky, sweet and deeply savoury edge that make sizzling platters such a joy.
But the rest of the components were pleasing – tikka paneer, soya tikka, samosas and a lightly-textured sort of kofta that was fabulous.
Small wonder that on a night when the sun was shining outside, the Covered Wagon was packed.
Need to know
The main menu is Indian, but there’s a lunch menu with English offerings.
It has a kids’ menu.
Vegans and vegetarians are well catered for.
There’s plenty of parking.
The Covered Wagon
298 Yardley Wood Road, Moseley Birmingham B13 9JW.
0121 449 3230.