Rola Wala is new to the Selfridges Food Hall in Birmingham. Like the other concessions in the Food Hall, it’s a place to grab some food while you take the weight off your feet before getting back to some more shopping. It’s not the sort of place you’d go for a romantic meal or a leisurely meal with friends as the decor and furniture are a touch industrial in style. This is the fourth Rola Wala location to open, as there are already venues in Oxford, Leeds and Spitalfields in London. Rola Wala’s prides itself on its ‘Twisted Indian Street Food’, and Indian street food is just the thing when you are having a busy day shopping. I was invited along to try out the menu last week as Rola Wala’s guest.
So to begin with you have to decide between a naan roll or a spice bowl. The spice bowl was an easy choice for me as I would always choose rice over naan anyway, but I also thought it would look better in my pictures (ever the blogger). The Spice bowls are based on a red rice imported from Sri Lanka, which is apparently even better for you than brown rice. The alternative is the soft sourdough naan roll which I thought looked very nice too. Now you need to choose from six toppings: three vegetarian and three non-vegetarian plus there’s an optional range of sides available if you pay a bit more. You can pay extra to double up on the toppings too, but to be honest I don’t think you need to as I found a bowl and two sides was very filling. Then you get to pick from five different chutneys, which run the whole spice range from a mild spice to too hot for me. The mildest is pear & tamarind, with the scorpion being too hot for me, but I can’t cope with very spicy food. I was torn between the mango, lime & ginger and the mint, lime & pineapple which were medium spicy.
There’s quite a range of drinks available with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available. Lager is a natural match for a curry and there were some beers available, but I opted for the soft option in the Karma Soda which tasted quite like the diet version of a well-known cola brand and I really liked it.
You order at the counter and your meal is brought to your table. The service was very fast as you’d expect with street food I think. For my spice bowl I chose the Bengali Beef, which is a very tender shredded beef brisket. There’s plenty of flavour and it’s mildly spicy, but the meat doesn’t overpower the dish, in fact there isn’t a huge amount of it. I don’t like a meal to be too heavy on the meat, so that suited me nicely. The other meat based options are charred Chicken Tikka and Nagaland Lamb which has been slow-cooked. I enjoyed the red rice that came with the spice bowl. It has a flavour that is different to brown rice, not so nutty, but it certainly has more flavour than the average bowl of white rice.
For my sides I picked the String Fries (I can never resist fries) and the Avo Chaat Salad. The fries were nice and had a slightly spicy seasoning, but they didn’t stand out for me. The Avo Chaat Salad was truly delicious though and I’d be ordering that every time. It’s a mango salad with avocado and pomegranate too: very fresh, slightly fruity and very tasty. Sally, a fellow blogger, who ate with me, had some different options that I got to try too like the Kashmiri Cauliflower Popcorn – not a fan, a bit beige tasting for me. Like me though she picked out and loved the Avo Chaat Salad, which was so nice I would happily have ordered that as a main course. I did enjoy the food at Rola Wala and I think I could be making a return visit before too long.