I must keep my eyes closed when I walk to the cinema, because I go there a lot, but I’ve never really noticed Tiger Bills Birmingham. Perhaps it’s because I walk, head down, along Broad St and if I’m going to eat before/between films then it’s a quick trip to cheap and cheerful Nando’s. But when Tiger Bills emailed me a voucher for a free main course it seemed like as good a place as any to catch up with my friend Jo-ann.
Tiger Bills Birmingham is part of the Lifestyle Hospitality Group who operate a number of venues mainly in the south west of the country, although the Tiger Bills brand seems to be their fastest growing concept. With eight other branches around the country, they describe themselves as ‘East meets West dining experience’ which is one of those descriptions that grates on me for being a bit too vague. Although, to be fair, their menu does seem to take inspiration from a lot of East Asian dining with noodles, stir fries, soups and a fair few Thai-inspired dishes. But there are also some ‘West’ dishes in the form of burgers, steaks and grills – and inexplicably fajitas, which feel a bit of an anomaly. Still, it’s got the sort of range that should mean everyone can find something they like.
That said the menu is not the easiest to follow. Being a bit of a font nerd, the typeface they’ve chosen is an atmospheric one which works for titles and posters, but in a restaurant setting it’s just a bit hard to read at the table. I’d had a craving for Thai green curry for a while and almost missed that it was on the menu – partly due to the font choice, but also because it was entitled by its Thai name. It’s also worth pointing out that the curries come with chicken or vegetables and with jasmine rice, but if you want to upgrade to beef or duck you can do for £1.50…and if you want to upgrade your rice to egg fried rice that’s free, but garlic or coconut rice is 50p more. Our waitress patiently explained this to us, but the upgrade options just feel a bit clunky.
I had the Thai green curry (£8.95); the sauce was thinner than I was expecting, but had a nice flavour to it and the bamboo shoots, beans and peppers gave it a nice freshness. The chicken was a little too dry, but not massively so. The rice was lovely, but the separate dishes for them felt a bit overkill. Jo-ann had the Tamarind Duck (£9.95), which came on a bed of deep-fried noodles that she wasn’t overly keen on but I didn’t mind, although egg noodles would probably have been better. The waitress that cleared our plates said the deep-fried noodles had a sort of marmite reaction with people either loving or hating them.
For dessert I went for the All American Waffles (£4.25) which I suspect are brought in and heated up, but they were fine and though not a massive amount of ice cream, it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. Jo-ann’s Banoffee Cheesecake was super sweet, but then that’s sort of the point of banoffee cheesecake, isn’t it?
Tiger Bills is fine, but that’s about as far as I can go with it really. Nothing bothered me, but nothing really wowed me either. Now that I know it’s there, I’d go as an alternative to Nando’s, but that’s what I’m measuring it against. It’s a perfectly fine concept to roll-out nationally, but it just doesn’t have the same unique charm as some of the places in and around the Arcadian (aka Chinatown). It’s a great location near two cinemas and Broad St and it’s got more atmosphere – and cocktails than Nando’s, but wow factor, not so much.
Disclosure: I was given a voucher for free mains – dessert and drinks we paid for ourselves. I wasn’t required to write a positive review and opinions, in this case very middle-of-the-road, are my own.