It is likely that you will have eaten in more salubrious places than the Merry Maid, a nondescript pub on the No.50 bus route in Highgate.
The large, white-walled eating area is accessed from the bar through a door saying ‘Toilets’.
The cubicle in the gents has scrawled on it in big green inky letters ‘Closed due to vandals’. A tap on the sink turns loosely in your hand when you try to use it. The hand-drier looks like a robot’s anus.
The dining area itself is a large space, rather like a function room in a neglected community centre. A big screen shows sport. The sound of pool being played echoes from a hidden corner.
And yet… and yet….
The Merry Maid is rightly known for its Indian curries and grills, which are substantial and remarkable value.
The £13 large mixed grill that four of us shared was a sizzling mountain of meat so daunting that some remained uneaten despite our valiant efforts at gluttony.
The mixed salad served with it was rustic and fresh.
Various chunks of chicken and lamb were enthusiastically spiced, moist and had those glorious charred edges that make food from Indian grills so appealing.
We shared four vegetarian dishes with good naan and roti and, again, portions were so generous that much remained unfinished.
Which is no reflection at all on the quality of the bowls of paneer makhani, dal tadka, chana massala and aloo mutter that we ordered – all of them distinct, well-made and confidently spiced.
Service and drinks
This is a backstreet boozer. The beer and wine range isn’t going to thrill beard-stroking connoisseurs of either sex. But it’s fine for washing down hearty hot food.
You order drinks from the bar, food from a hatch. Service is prompt and polite. Plates and cutlery aren’t exactly high-end
Need to know
Expect to pay less than £15 for two courses, bread and a drink.
Beware of over-ordering – the food is filling.
There are plenty of veggie options.
Merry Maid Bar & Grill
263 Moseley Road, Highgate, Birmingham B12 0EA. 0121 440 3043.