Old Moseley Arms: all ale good curry and beer


There are cravings that are sometimes incompatible.

Watching Birmingham City and having a life untouched by disappointment, for instance.
Being a Villa fan and expecting success.
Or going for a good hearty curry and enjoying a good hearty pint of beer, for most curry houses seem to serve only the kind of lagers that taste like something that may flow from a cat’s urethra.
Step forward proudly, then, the Old Moseley Arms, a backstreet boozer in Balsall Heath that’s an award-winning real ale pub and which serves damn fine Indian food and is loved by CAMRA.

The decor

This cramped, awkwardly-shaped place is the antithesis of contemporary cool, with its red patterned carpet, wooden panelling that could do with a lick of varnish and wallpaper that looks like something from a grim 1970s sitcom starring Yootha Joyce.
There’s a juke box, screens showing sport, a pool table and darts.
It’s a proper old fashioned pub – not faux. Just what it is.

The drinks

There are permanent beers including Ansells Mild, Enville, Wye Valley Butty Bach, Wye Valley HPA and that beautiful light bitter, Shropshire Gold.
There are also ciders, lagers and guest ales, plus wines and spirits.

The food

The grills that were served around me – cooked in a tandoori clay oven – looked fantastic and I regretted not ordering one.
But the two sheikh kebabs that I ordered – a snip at £3.75 – were good enough to ease my pain.
Loosely packed, moist lamb was confidently spiced to give just the right hit of heat without overshadowing the natural sweetness of the meat.
Meanwhile, a lamb samosa – which cost all of 95p – was equally well received.
The lamb and chick pea pathia to which I progressed was a homely sort of dish – substantial, packed with flavour and spicy enough to bead my hairless dome with sweat.
The tomato, onion and lentil sauce delivered a pleasing sweet and sour tang.
My wife Lynn’s chicken dhansak – the sauce a combination of lentils and pineapple – disappeared in a remarkably short time.
The two roti with which we mopped up the sauces were interesting things, made, I think, with condensed milk which added a richness and a sweetness that I’m not sure would be to everyone’s taste.

The service

It’s a pub – don’t expect silver service. You order at the bar, the food is brought to your table hot and fresh.
Staff are friendly, informed and chat happily with the many regulars who gather in the bar and smoke room (it’s not smoking now, of course).

Need to know

Expect to pay £12 a head for a starter, main course and drink.
Vegetarian dishes are available.
On-street parking is available outside.

The Old Moseley Arms 
53 Tindal Street, Balsall Heath, Birmingham B12 9QU.
0121 440 1954.