Sunday, 8 July 2012
Birmingham can lay claim to being the foodie capital of the Midlands and after London the foodie capital of England. It is home to three Michelin starred restaurants, Purnells, Simpson's and Turners. Ok not many by London standards, but far far better than Manchester which has none.
It could also be hailed as the curry capital of the UK. Famed for its "Balti Triangle" an area just South of the City centre which boasts over 50 curry houses of all shapes and sizes. We were not here though to try the multitude of different tastes on offer there, we specifically wanted to return to Lasan.
The last time that we ate here was two years ago. Chef Aktar Islam was riding high on his hugely successful appearance on BBC television Great British Menu and Gordon Ramsay's televised F Word. Such was that success that obtaining a table was nigh on impossible at weekends for many months and equally difficult during the week. Ah the power of television.
Both my wife and I find Indian food intriguing. Not that we have cooked much of course. Well perhaps a little, but getting the balance of spicing seems to be the key to producing good results. In any event we prefer to leave it to the experts and Aktar Islam and his team of chefs are just that.
Very much in the vein of other top end restaurants we were offered an amuse of Minced Lamb Scotch egg, some poppadoms and an assortment of dips to get things started.
I must admit that we found all of the dishes on the menu tempting. It was varied in prime components like Lamb, Venison, Monkfish, Duck, Goat, King Prawns, etc,etc. Starters consisted of a choice of eleven. With twelve mains and a choice of eight desserts.
We could not resist the Konkan kekada. Soft shell crab in a crispy ajwain and Kashmiri batter. The inspiration for this dish was the winning fish course on BBC's Great British Menu.
Another starter which read well on the menu was Afghani Lamb.
Tandoori roasted free range Wiltshire Downs lamb cutlet with a soft shin and lentil pattie.
Mans ke shooley was next. Clove smoked, dry aged oyster of Herefordshire beef marinated with hung yogurt and mustard oil.
The venison also read well on the menu Hiran achari. Slow roasted osso bucco of wild venison, spiced roasted loin resting on curried pumpkin.
The loin of Lyme Bay monkfish had to be tried too. On the menu as Nellore chappa. It was pan fried in curried oil, and sat atop a spiced aubergine and crisp potato pakora. The sauce was "Andhra style". Coconut milk infused with curry leaves and mustard seeds soured with tamarind. Very generously extra sauce was provided for pouring.
This dish was the winning one for the "Ultimate Indian" on UKTV's Perfect.
Very subtle spicing was evident in all of the dishes that we ate so far, but the Tamil style rustic curry that we were served next had a more direct fiery kick to it.
Kodi chettinad. Spring chicken in a spicy masala of roasted coconut, star anise, sundried chilli and black peppercorns.
Desserts next and we wanted to sample three of them, as follows.
Gajar halva somosa. A sweet carrot and pistachio pudding with crispy pastry served with kulfi and a mixed berry coulis
Chai panna cotta. Panna cotta flavoured with traditional spiced tea with a coconut sorbet.
And finally Spiced apple macaroon. A cinnamon scented apple and salted toffee macaroon, strawberry ice cream and raspberry crumble.
So there you have it, a decent selection of dishes for you to peruse over. In the main I have let the pictures do the talking. Some great presentation and of course what you don't know about is the true taste that we experienced on our visit. Which needless to say was far far superior than your normal curry house offering. Aktar Islam and his very talented chefs create complex dishes which tease the senses and we are in compleat admiration in what they put on the plate. Expect to be taken on a tasting tour of India with Kerelan, Bengali, Punjabi, Moghul, Kashmiri, Tamil etc, etc influenced cuisine.
As always on our visits the manager Syed was in charge on the day and as is the norm he delivered gracious service which is in keeping with this level of dining. Sadly though you do not always get it even at two Michelin starred restaurants.
As you may imagine with all the food that we ate plus drinks etc the bill was not cheap, but you know what they say about getting what you pay for.
Two years is really far too long for a revisit especially considering its not a million miles away from us.
Would we recommend a visit?
Clearly a class act. We think its great.