Harborne welcomes another Indian restaurant to the scene this last weekend as Umami Indian Kitchen and Cocktail bar has opened next to Boo Boo Coffee at the top of War Lane. There is some competition in Harborne for Indian cuisine – from the Dosa Mania cafe, to Mela, Bangla Lounge, Regards, and others. None of them have really gone after the modern upmarket look that Umami is trying. Low tables greet you in the entrance and the bar is light and bright, perhaps somewhere you’d go just to get a cocktail rather than necessarily going for food.
I will note I didn’t like any of the art on the walls, as it seemed out of context with the food and cocktail offering – we weren’t there as a gallery though and it won’t stop me going back. The building is a bit of a clumsy shape, but they seem to have made the best of it and though it’s not spacious we didn’t feel penned in. The tables were laid with white cloths and sparkling stemware and the napkins neatly presented folded and ribboned.
Unimaginatively we opted for beer – nice to see Dortmund Pilsner (£4.75 a pint) on draught rather than just Cobra (which obviously they also have at £4.25 a pint). We had poppadoms with our beer which came as two different sorts, spicy and plain, and with a tray of chutneys which had a particularly lovely onion one.
We also tried a bottle of Viognier which was more than
acceptable for under twenty quid a bottle. They do have a large selection of cocktails which we failed to try – we’ll do better next time! Many classics were available like Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmopolitan, Espresso Martini (all at £5.95). They were being enjoyed by other diners though. I’m not sure of the wisdom of Indian flavours mixed with cocktails but we shall see the next time we visit.
Our favourite of our starters was the Maglorean Pepper Scallops (£5.95) which were plump and fresh and cooked in a sauce of mustard, curry leaves, and pepper. We also had the Chilli Paneer Wah Wah (£5.95) which was also very well spiced, and Khatti Meethi Dahi Poori (£5.25), crispy cakes of chick pea with spices and served with a spiced yoghurt and tamarind chutney which was very enjoyable.
For mains I wanted something with some heat so I ordered the Chicken Chettinad (£9.95)
which lacked the chilli punch I was expecting – nonetheless I ate every bit, it was a good dish. We tried the Ambala Keema Matter (minced lamb and green peas in a spiced sauce £11.95) which was quite spicy. In fact it was a little too spicy for the person who ordered it and without a second glance the waiter asked whether they could remake for us slightly less hot, which they did very quickly – great service. Also, we tried the “British Railway Lamb Curry” (£10.95), we’re not talking the West Coast mainline here, this was a dish produced in India during the days of the Raj for British palates which consisted of chunks of lamb on the bone cooked with ginger, caramalised onion, and spices. I’d order that one again too.
The service was very friendly though going just three nights after they opened we did find it a little slow – they get a pass on this occasion as we were having such a nice time chatting we didn’t really notice, and new venues always take a couple of weeks to find their feet. It was overall a very enjoyable evening and I’m sure we’ll be back soon, especially as it’s only a five minute walk from our front door!