Hygiene ratings in takeaways. Some people study them religiously where as I’m more of a “if the food’s good, what the hell?” kinda guy. Not sure if it’s the same elsewhere but here in Walsall our takeaways are scored between 0 and 5 on how hygienic/clean they are. 1 star places don’t bother me but bizarrely if I’m in a 4 star I wonder what cost them that point and I will always glance around for any evidence.

I know it’s really not the case but it does cross my mind that whether the inspector has had a shag the night before could make the difference between a 3 or a 4 rating. So I do take these ratings with a pinch of salt or pinch of mouse droppings in some cases. I’m also aware that just because a place is a one star it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s covered in shit. They can lose points for things not being stored correctly in the fridge, poor hand washing facilities, cross contamination between chopping boards, or the place being covered in shit. Each venue has details on the website about the visit and what needs to improve but I didn’t bother looking at these. I don’t do details unless I’m telling a grim anecdote.

So where’s this leading? Well a couple of years ago I was going to visit all the 0 rated takeaways and do an article . As per usual though friends forced me to go to the pub on numerous occasions and I didn’t get round to it. But now I have a blog page and minimal content I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’m pleased to say that currently on the council website there isn’t a single place with a zero rating in Walsall. Well done everyone. So I’m doing the 1 star places instead. Bit healthier and I’ve enough zero’s in my life with some of the Walsall FC scores this season.

There are 50 or so places on the site with a 1 star rating. Not all takeaways, cafes or pubs. There are a couple of newsagents too. I can only assume the jazz mags have poor hygiene.

When I decided to do this it was poorly timed on my behalf as it was during Lent and I’d given up chip shops for the duration. What kind of writer does crap planning like this? I bet J K Rowling isn’t this disorganised. Anyway after convincing myself that some of these places are takeaways not chip shops so I could sneak a couple in. My Lent and I’m allowed to tweak the rules. So I bought Imodium and stocked up on toilet rolls (just a 9 pack, I don’t panic buy unless it’s booze or samosas).

All places were listed as 1* on the website at the time of visiting. Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (walsall.gov.uk)

Visit 1. Dixy Chicken, Bradford Street, Walsall. Last inspection 24/11/20.
The place looked clean enough from where I observed at the counter although it’s fair to say that a good sprinkling of dust could have settled over the place during the time it took the lady in front of me to decide what she wanted. I opted for a chicken fillet burger and wings. I wasn’t really paying attention at the list of quantities of wings available but 6 seemed to be the only even number amongst the stream of evil odd ones so I opted for those. The food came quickly and I dashed off to visit Dave – he was my support bubble at the time so it was allowed.

Well it took me longer to figure out how to open the paper wrapper of the delicious burger than to devour the contents within it. The wings were good too, although I offered Dave one which he accepted but I mentioned the hygiene rating and he went very odd claiming the wing was spicy and he couldn’t eat it. It really wasn’t. I’ve had spicier korma’s. Actually that’s fake news. I’ve never had a korma in my life. Anyway, a decent first mission.

Visit 2. One Big Bite, Milton Street, Walsall. Last inspection 28/10/19.
I need to throw a line in here, a month after my visit it had another inspection and this is now rated 3. Well done to them. It was still a one when I visited though so I’m leaving it in.

Friendly and welcoming guy was a good start as I headed in just after midday on a bright Sunday. There is a bit of a television theme as they do a Naga Doner, presumably after Naga Munchetty and also a Nigella Panini. Missed a trick here though as surely Nigella’s Baps would have people queuing out of the door. I scoured the menu for any thing named in honour of Lucy Verasamy but was left disappointed so I went with Naga. They guy told me it was spicy twice and I accepted the same number of times.

The place was clean, the Coca-Cola fridge was the best I’ve ever seen, and if space in my kitchen was sufficient I’d have had it away.

The kebab meat came with a freshly cooked naan and interestingly two forks, one red and one black (I used the Walsall red one). I like how he thought I must be sharing the food but If 2016 14 stone me had turned up I’m sure it would have just been the one fork provided. Anyway, he wasn’t lying about the spice. It was throat warming, nose running spicy and this I approved of. I have had kebab meat on a Sunday before but usually at around 2am, certainly not mid dayish and it felt strange eating it at a time people would still be heading home from mass. It was really good though. Another great visit.

Naga Doner, Palfrey style.

Visit 3. Dixy Chicken, High Street, Brownhills. Last inspection 14/01/21.
New kid on the block this one as it only opened in January. I knew it was a 1 star rated place before I’d even checked the website as it had been flagged up on the excellent Brownhills Bob group on Facebook, having been inspected shortly after it opened. I love it when my research is done for me.

This was an after work visit but I wanted to be home for 7 so I could watch Tenable on ITV4, so military style precision was needed. I nibbled a sausage roll whilst walking through Bilston to keep me ticking over as I don’t like eating on an empty stomach. I met Dave in Walsall and we jumped on the bus to Brownhills. I calculated that we had 15 minutes to find the place, get food and jump on the vital 18.15 bus back. Challenge Anneka food style. We arrived in Brownhills and it started to fall apart. My research had suggested it was opposite the job centre. It wasn’t and we’d gone in the wrong direction. We finally found the place, there was already 2 customers in the shop and we had 8 minutes remaining.

We got served, and I went for the same as in the Walsall store so I could compere. The place was clean, the decor was nice including a heart made up of foody words. To my surprise the lad serving, who seemed like a decent bloke asked what drink I wanted, so I pounced on the Apple Tango as I’d not had it for years. Dave had 2 pieces of chicken and chips. We needed fast food and we got it. We were at the bus stop with two minutes to spare. Turned out I’d got an actual burger meal and wings at a cost of 2p less than I paid in the Walsall branch, which hadn’t been a meal. The burger was good, the chicken wings, big, crispy and generally amazing. A superb visit and I was back home 7 minutes before Tenable started. And I got all the answers in the money round which was about the board game Cluedo. This was a seriously good visit. No wonder Elvis was always singing “oh I wish I was in Dixy, away away.”

Visit 4. Peri Peri Takeout. Prince Street, Pleck. Last inspection 15/12/20.
Bumped up the agenda of this article after myself and Dave’s original target was closed. A discussion, and the arrival of the 34 bus swung things and we were off to Pleck.

There were no customers in front of us so I got no chance to peruse the offerings so just went for the normal chicken burger and hot wings. Now I’m not a fan of meal packages in takeaways that include a drink as I want just pure food for my cash, but in this place items are sold individually but you can add chips and a drink for £1.20 extra. So I opted to do that. He then asked if I wanted fries and drink with the wings as well. Jesus. Old me would have been all over that but I declined this time.

Whilst waiting I did get to study the menu. They do a burger party bucket. This visit was straight after a crap day at work so I wasn’t in the mood to party. They also do a treat bucket, and boy did I deserve a treat as this was my first takeaway after Lent, but I wouldn’t have been arsed to carry the 1.5 litre bottle of Coke on the bus so I’m glad I stuck with what I got.

The burger was really nice, and the hot wings were perfectly spiced and they came in a box which said “enjoy chicken”. Not sure if this was an instruction or just a reminder of one of my favourite hobbies. Another really good visit.

The One That Got Away. Beacon Fish Bar, Beacon Road, Pheasey.
This didn’t make the initial list, but when a couple of my targets closed I had to do another search and I discovered that this place was by The Cat & Fiddle, a great boozer discovered on Pub Challenge 1 (and where Barmaid Of The Challenge from that year worked) so this place got penciled in. I put money aside, planned bus times, booked a table at the pub to wash down the chippy goodness and invited friends. Then during the week before I checked the hygiene website again and it said that place had been recently inspected and the new score would be announced soon. Why the delay? Stop building up suspense. You’re not revealing the bad guy on Line Of Thrones or whatever it’s called. Anyway, the chippy impressed the inspectors as it got promoted to a 3, and I got a call from the pub on the Friday saying that they wouldn’t be opening due to the weather. So I spent that Saturday eating Beef Space Raiders and fannying around on Twitter instead.

Just tell us, eh?

Visit 5. Fountain Cafe. Longwood Lane, Walsall. Last inspection 05/06/18
Now this is what I’m talking about. An eaterie in a static van by the side of a road. I’ve not eaten at anything like this since a midnight visit on a Tuesday night, in Cirencester on the way back from an away win at Bournemouth in 1992. All vans visited since have been mobile. I’m guessing this van hasn’t moved in years.

Yet again I’d done my research beforehand. Yet again I’d got it wrong, resulting in getting off the bus a stop early. This did allow me to have a stroll down a nice scenic road while Monday morning traffic thundered past. It felt like that scene where Alan Partridge walks along a dual carriageway to go and buy windscreen washer fluid. I should have sang Goldfinger to complete the look.

So by the time I arrived at the van I reckoned I’d burned off the calories of a slice of bread, so I had that slice along with another one with sausage, bacon and egg thrown in for good measure. It felt a bit odd waiting for a sandwich in a glorified clearing surrounded by trees at the terminus of dead end bit of road. Then another man arrived and ordered his food and we both stood there in silence. It felt awkward. Especially when his cup of tea arrived in the hatch and I got jealous.

After a little wait my sammo arrived, I bade farewell to my new friend, pulled my breakfast out and started walking back. The bus stop I should have got off at was 1 minute walk away so I stood there eating looking at my slobbiest for sometime. I am quite uncouth and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this to traffic on a busy A road.

Anyway, the food was okay. You can’t go wrong with BSE, and she certainly wasn’t shy with the ketchup. Another tick, one that I’d done purely because I was off work but with a day left on my bus pass and I wanted to get some use out of it just on principle.

Visit 6. Chick’n Bites, Walsall. Last inspection 08/04/21.
One of my slight bug bears is when someone gets to a takeaway just ahead of me, and this was the case here but I’ve come to like it now as it gives me chance to study decor and menu. Firstly I really wanted the cool looking red table but then I noticed the door to the side which lets people from behind the counter out. Seriously it is the smallest door that I’ve ever seen in use. I know that I’m unlikely to ever win a Mr Tall contest but I think even I’d have to bend down to get through that one.

As it was the last review I decided to let my minimal hair down and order a bit more so I went for the 3 chicken wings meal with a side salad of kebab burger (no salad). The service was quick and I was soon making the short walk home.

Again it was unusual to be eating kebab stone cold sober but as the doner was landing in my stomach I’m sure said organ was screaming out”Oi George? Where’s the boozy hors d’oeuvre?”. Not sure why my stomach calls me George though.

Anyway I digress. The kebab meat was juicy, succulent and like it had been freshly shaved rather than plucked out of those nasty metal storage boxes. The chicken wings were great and had a nice bit of spice and the chips went down well after being doused in newly opened mayonnaise. The can of Pepsi (no choice in drink but I love this cola so all good) was also enjoyed. I’m deffo going here on the way back from The White Lion if that reopens. A great visit and a nice way to end this blog.

There are plenty of 2 star rated takeaways in Caldmore so there maybe a sequel to this article somewhere down the line as I’ve enjoyed reviewing food again for the first time since mine and Swill’s aborted Walsall Curry House Monopoly Challenge. Walsall Monopoly Curry Challenge | Monopoly-inspired curry challenge around Walsall. Visit the best Walsall Indian restaurants, eat curries, rate them and then place them on the board. Get a genuine insight into the restaurants of Walsall, with photos, stories and videos of what are sure to be some eventful nights. (wordpress.com)

Cheers for reading again.