So a different part of the world this time. A Christmas meet up with one of my closest friends who I sadly don’t get to see as often as I would like. I had a few days off from work post on call so I have driven down to Cheshire to see the family and friends and added on a 5 hour round trip (because the traffic was horrendous) to see one of my closest friends Gemma, who this year is sporting a lovely bump.
We tend to go out for something to eat and fit in a little quality time rather than buy each other Christmas or birthday presents. This year we got a table at Lasan in Birmingham. This is the restaurant which won Gordon Ramsay’s best local restaurant in the F word in 2013 and I have wanted to go there ever since. Gem and I have tried before to get a table, but around the time of the win you had to book weeks in advance. It seems the hype has died down a little as we managed to get a table so mean to Christmas with only a weeks notice.
The menu is not like your normal anglo-indian cuisine, it is Indian food meets fine dining. The price reflects this but I think it was worth it. If I was going again I would probably go for the taster menu with the wine flight, but alas I was driving and also Gem didn’t fancy some of the things on it. She also didn’t think she could handle that much food. I do tend to go for the taster where there is one on offer as I feel it is the best showcase of what a place can do. We were given popadoms and a chickpea and tamarind jus amuse bouche with we were told to down in one. I can sometimes find tamarind a little overpowering, but this was just perfect.
I started with the Batair (£10.95) which was their quail dish with mango and cashew with a quails egg kofta scotch egg. Gem had the Burrah beef kebab (£11.50). I had a taste of both, the spicing to my quail was more delicate than that of the beef which was much richer and more intense while also tart and I think they suited each of their meats well. The quail dish was more fresh tasting with the tomato and coriander accompanying it. It was possibly a little too rare for my liking, edging more towards raw, and I do tend to like my meat rare.
For mains I went for the Hiram acher venison (£24.95) and Gemma had the Laal mass (£22.95). Both dishes had the meat done two ways, a slow cooked melt in your mouth version and then the chunks of venison or herby lamb cutlet. For sides, we had the bread basket which had plain and garlic and coriander Naan and also a tandoori roti and the mushroom rice. For some reason in spite of my mushroom obsession I have never had mushroom rice with Indian before. I decided to order it as a certain TV advert recently has a guy going on about mushroom fried rice and I have had a craving for it since it came out. Again I had a taste of everything and I fear I may run out of adjectives if I try to describe every part of it. The rice was perfectly cooked, the venison was nice and pink in the middle and well seasoned but the slices did not seem to have any spice on their exterior. This all came form the sauce and the slow cooked pot which had some mild heat from the spices but tonnes of flavour. The lamb was also very good, the cutlet was juicy and just melted and the slow cooked pot was really smokey and flavoursome and Gem thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now on to puddings, I adore nut ice-creams, particularly pistachio when it’s made with actual pistachio rather than the fake bright green pistachio stuff that has a real artificial flavour to it. As this is a fine dining establishment I thought it was safe to go for the chocolate fondant with the pistachio ice-cream (£6.95) and I was right. Real pistachio and also I think some cardamom, more of a sorbet than a creamy ice-cream in consistency but I think this is more traditional indian style than what we’re are used to in Europe. The fondant was chocolaty and had a perfect gooey centre. Gem went for the Bombay mess (£6.95) which I had also considered ordering and I have to say I had some definite food envy both when it arrived as it was beautiful (not at all a mess) and also a fresh and fruity delight when I had a taste. It was so good I almost ordered it once I finished my desert but Gem instead said that we should just use it as an excuse to return another time. She did comment though that she was “not sure where plums fit in” to the dish.
I was really impressed with the whole meal and the service was also very good. Now a warning for a slightly minging comment. One thing that did really bug me was the toilets. Now don’t get me wrong, the toilets were beautiful. It was more that I don’t think they were regularly checked throughout the night. We got there about half 6 and left at about half 9 and the problem was there throughout. Basically in two of the 4 ladies toilets some reprobate had left some erm “presents” that nobody wants to see while they are having a nice meal. In one of them they had really had some issues and the “presents” were all over the place. What I don’t get is how someone can make that kind of a mess in a public place and then just walk off without making any kind of attempt to clean up after themselves. It is truly disgusting. Part of the problem in the other cubicle I think may be to do with the loos not flushing very well, something I had noticed in the other cubicles. But still, don’t just walk away and leave your mess! People are gross!
I would happily go here again and there were tonnes of other dishes on the menu that I wanted to try. I really struggled to order as I wanted a taste of everything. Everything we had was delicious. Certainly the best Indian I have had in a long while and I have to say I was more impressed here than when I went to a famous Michelin starred Indian in London, although a direct comparison is difficult as it was several years ago now and I was expecting mind blowing when I went there and although good I didn’t leave ranting about any of the dishes. I am wavering between my two highest grades here, but I did have a few criticisms so I think I am going to have to go with would recommend.
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