The West Midlands has long been a hotspot for good Indian cuisine and Birmingham City Centre boasts several fantastic Indian restaurants, and a couple of awful ones too. For a night on the tiles, you couldn’t start anywhere better than Pushkas for something modern, spicy and delicate with a spot-on Vesper Martini. After a few beers, you could nip to Celebrity Indian for something more pedestrian but equally as satisfying. For a celebration meal though, you need somewhere special and Lasan Restaurant, just off St. Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter, is just the ticket.
We visited Lasan Restaurant to try their Sunday Banquet, at £19.95 a head. It’s a new concept for the restaurant who are more used to serving an a la carte offering, at around £10 a starter and £18 a main – the summer banquet is definitely a way of checking out the venue on a budget. The idea is that the three course set menu, which changes every week, is served family style in the centre of the table so everyone can dig in. It’s certainly a convivial way of dining and we saw several groups tucking in to pots, dishes and baskets while chatting merrily away about all and sundry.
We were met on entry by friendly staff and seated in the bar to have a drink while we awaited our table for which we were unfashionably early. I can personally advise you not to try to the non-alcoholic Cobra lager. It tastes nothing like Cobra. Or lager for that matter. Dreadful stuff. (As an aside, should you need a non-alcoholic lager for a BYO BBQ, then I suggest Becks Blue is the best of a bad bunch). Good intentions pushed aside, we quickly moved on to “proper” Cobra as we were seated.
The dining room is plush: wooden tables and comfortable leather tub chairs, and quality cutlery. Despite the modern polished concrete flooring, there’s an inviting warmth to the place. There are nods at India to remind us of the cuisine’s origin but they’re certainly not over the top, however the weird modern Indian music that was playing drove me to distraction.
Decorated with petals our starter arrived as a very pretty selection of tasty morsels. I particularly enjoyed the achari salmon, and sweet corn pakora, although I remain unsure about the banana bhaji – I’d rather mine split with ice cream I think. I really enjoyed the fresh pea shoot salad and the tracklements that the starter was served with, particularly the mint and corriander chutney.
The mains were served in small saucepans to help ourselves from, there was also a basket of bread, and a slate of Dakshini Fish Fry. The fish was red with Dakshini paste and had a good spicy kick. I had two portions it was so nice. I also ate two portions of the Gobi Shimla Mirch (cauliflower and pepper curry). The bread and rice was perfectly cooked, and the other dishes of dal, chicken korma, and veal rara gosht were equally lovely.
Needless to say, after my double helpings I was as full as an egg. It didn’t stop me from having dessert though – a mango kesari, a set semolina dish, served with a cold saffron custard. I thought it could do with a bit more mango flavour but the saffron custard had a richness that complimented the delicate flavour of the kesari.
Like many of Birmingham’s better restaurants, the chef here has had his moment of fame on national television and is a Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word Best Local Restaurant winner – you can see the trophy in the bar. From what we’ve seen, this trophy and the many others he’s earned, is well deserved. Fantastic Indian food, in a lovely restaurant with friendly staff. What’s not to like?
The Sunday Banquet set menu is running until the end of September, so get in quick, and make sure you book because this place gets busy.
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