Saleem's is what it is and always has been. Take it on face value.
If you want chef recommendations or fine table cloths and napkins, this is not the place for you. If you want good honest "cafe" style food which is wholesome and still cheap then this is the place. Two of us struggle to eat £17 worth of food when we visit. We usually spend far more because we take a large sack full of ready made starters, tubs of sauces and a selection box of barfi home with us.
Favourite dish = balti chicken tikka veg chana mix.
We don't eat rice, there is no point. Just a large pot of sizzling hot spicey balti with a plain fresh naan bread. That is complete and how it should be.
Although I don't think the food is a great as it once was, it is still good enough to bring us back time and again. We don't eat rubbish food, we only return to places that are good enough. Good rarely means expensive. Its always a balance between price and quality and service. We have spent £120 in another restaurant for a meal for two and less than £20 for much better food at Saleem's.
The way Balti houses always worked and why they were so popular is because they served cheap, hot, cafe style, asian food. A lot of the balti restaurants have lost sight of the reason for the success of the balti. We don't go for a balti to have pretentious food served in a pretentious palace by disinterested staff, we could get that on our local high street if we wanted. Thankfully Saleem's have not lost sight of that principle and I believe that is why it is still going strong. People want honest, cheap, hot, spicey, cafe style food.
When I started going to Saleems in the early 1980s, there was no cutlery, all the plates and bowls were different patterns, there were huge printed menu's under the glass table tops, a dish of raw onions and red chill sauce was placed on the table as soon as we sat down, there were big dented alloy jugs with cold water and school like drinking glasses, the flock wall paper became legend, and the food was so very, very spicey hot and cheap. Thankfully not too much of the old formula has changed.
Although we learned fast how to use a piece of naan bread as a spoon, they do give out cutlery as standard now.
It was a sad day when Saleem's removed the exact same wallpaper as in Delboys flat on "Only fools and Horses", but at least the photograph of the wrestlers is still on the wall. Lost count of how many famous rock stars and their roadies we have bumped into at Saleems over the years who wend their way down there after a late night gig in town.
The staff are respectful and friendly with us despite we only go about twice a year now compared to when we went every week.
When we go into Birmingham city centre to shop at the markets and the new Bullring, I can guarantee you will find us heading out of town via Sparkbrook and Saleem's.
I love the place, its real, it aint pretentious.
See you again very soon guys. 30 years and counting............... thank you.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.