Street food has been a popular part of the Birmingham food scene for a while now, with Digbeth Diner leading this love of all that is stripped back, fuss-less and bloody tasty. More recently, however, we’ve seen off-the-street-street-food become more of a thing, with at least three Indian street food restaurants opening in the city in the last few months. One of these restaurants is Indico in Shirley, just outside of Solihull (is it Birmingham, is it not? We’ll never know). I have to be honest, when I was invited there to try the new eatery, my main concern was whether it would be worth the trek, perhaps meaning there was more pressure for it to impress. I’m pleased to say that the journey certainly was worth it, and I would definitely make it again!
The first thing that strikes you upon entering is the decor. The theme is bright, fresh, and full of life, with multi coloured umbrellas hanging from the ceilings and murals covering the walls. There is a bar area and an open kitchen, and the place was buzzing with families and couples. We were shown to our table and had the menu explained to us, which contained street food, curries, tiffin boxes, kathi rolls and sides, as well as cocktails, beers and soft drinks. The service was a little patchy to begin with, but it became more attentive throughout the night.
We started by ordering a couple of cocktails. I at first asked for a Daru Ice Tea, which I had chosen for its interesting sounding use of spices, but it was suggested by the server that, as it was an acquired taste, I might enjoy the Electric Goa instead. I found this ‘warning’ slightly odd, but being the passive bitch that I am, I went along with it. The Electric Goa was pretty sweet, so I’m glad it was fairly short, but I did enjoy the classic combo of gin and elderflower. Jack went for a Masti Mojito, made with coriander, cinnamon and spicy rum (apparently Jack looks more like he can handle interesting spice combinations?!) and this was truly delicious – we could have drank it all night! Later on in the meal we also had their coconut shake mocktail. This creamy, sweet drink is perfect instead of a dessert, but it can get a little on the sickly side paired with all the rich curry!
We then ordered a trio of street food starters. The malai papri chaat was delicious, and the messy, finger-food style of this dish gives it that real street-food feel. There was plenty of potato and chickpea filling, but I perhaps would have wanted to have a bit more of the yoghurt for a cooling contrast. The vada pav was the indulgent comfort-food dish we hoped it would be, with a warm buttery pav and a generous serving of dal to eat it with. Finally, the dhaba paneer tikka was also a winner; chunky pieces of soft paneer marinated and gently fried and served with a cooling raita.
For the mains, we certainly had a lot to try! I ordered the prawn malai tiffin box, including lentil dal, two chapatis, raita and a creamy prawn malai curry. Every component of this selection was spot on, and it was really nice to have two smaller curry options to switch between. The prawns in the malai were big and juicy, and the rich creamy sauce was mild without being bland.
Jack went for the paneer makhanwala for his main, which again had gorgeous chunks of paneer cheese, served in a tomato based curry sauce and drizzled with cream. This was another indulgent dish, but the tomato flavour gave it a fruity, fresh taste that is more unusual in creamy sauces. We were also given a small portion of tarka daal to try, which was incredibly filling (and as you can imagine, we were pretty full by this point!) and thick, but certainly very tasty. I’d like to give this dish another go when I can appreciate it more, as we had perhaps had creamy sauce over-kill by this point!
Overall, we enjoyed every mouthful at Indico, and the variety on the menu means that we felt as though we’d only scratched the surface of what is on offer. The fact that a relatively new restaurant in Shirley was packed out on a Wednesday night says a lot, and the atmosphere of people enjoying themselves over a huge shared feast is a real plus point. We would never had thought to head out to Shirley for a meal out, but Indico is definitely worth the trip. Thank you to everyone at the restaurant for having us, we will see you again soon!