Lasan – A jewel in Birmingham’s food crown

It makes me totally ashamed, as a foodie, to admit that, until yesterday, I had never tried the fragrant delights of Lasan, the restaurant judged by Gordon Ramsey to be the best local restaurant in the UK. Well, it is safe to say that although this was my first visit, it will most definitely not be my last. The food, service and setting were all, quite simply, perfection.

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Lasan is situated just off Birmingham’s St Paul’s Square. The restaurant has a cool, contemporary decor with large picture windows helping the light to flood in. There are a selection of tables of varying sizes, certainly making this a wonderful place to choose for a large family occasion. I was dining with my sister so a small table was sufficient, but this was roomy enough for all of the food and drink that we ordered.

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We visited the restaurant at lunchtime and so soft drinks and hot coffee were the beverages of choice, particularly as the weather was so horrendous, with the snow pouring down during our stay. The service was brisk but very friendly, the waiter and Maitre D were chatty and also helpful in helping us make our food choices, asking about our taste and palette for spice and flavours.

We started with a pre-starter selection of poppadoms, dips and a gorgeous Amuse Bouche that consisted of a poppadom style shell filled with chick peas and tomato masala, tamarind and a mint style sauce. This was just delicious, the flavours came through the sauce with a surprise kick at the end. I loved this so much I used my poppadom to mop up the excess sauce that had dropped onto my plate.

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My sister and I are both spinach lovers, and often go for the vegetarian option on a menu, we were also keen to try paneer, so we opted to share a vegetarian platter which consisted of sweetcorn fritters, Onion bhajis, Potato cakes, marinated Paneer cubes and, our personal favourite, a spinach pakora. All were delicious, the paneer had been marinated in a tomato sauce and had a slightly toasty taste that I loved. The Potato tikki was also exquisite, with a taste of spice that was flavoursome rather than overpowering. Everything had me smiling and nodding in delight, there was nothing that made me reach for the water.

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For our main meals, we both opted for chicken dishes. I like my curries to be full of flavour but slightly milder in terms of spice, so the Kukkar Makhani was perfect for me, with its blend of honey and cashew nuts and yoghurt. I expected this dish to be sweet, but it was perfectly balanced, with the smokiness of the tandoor roasted meat blending in perfectly with the sauce. With soft and fluffy pilau rice, this was a really pleasing dish, with a sauce that I couldn’t resist mopping up with a selection of breads from the bread basket.

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My sister Jodie chose a different chicken dish, the Dopiaza Murgh, which consisted of free range Cotswold white chicken cooked two ways, slow braised leg and roasted supreme marinated in chilli and pomegranate seed. This was s served with caramelised shallots, wilted onion shoots and, most exciting, a classic Kolkata style dopiaza gravy. The presentation was amazing, and the tastes certainly lived up to the appearance, with the chicken soft and tender and packed with flavour, particularly the slow braised leg. The Dopiaza sauce was a delight, with the taste of tomato and onions a real treat for the palette. We’d been advised that one rice would be plenty for two, and this was proved when we couldn’t actually finish it. The term pleasantly stuffed has never been more aptly used.

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Lasan is a jewel in Birmingham’s proud jewel crown, with food of the highest standard that is complimented by the knowledgeable staff who add to your experience with their advice and information about the dishes on offer. I left Lasan feeling like I had been truly blessed in the gastronomic stakes by a meal it will take a long time to forget.

 

Lasan Restaurant, 3-4 Dakota Buildings | James Street | St Paul’s Square | BIRMINGHAM B3 1SD | TEL: 0121 212 3664 | 0121 247 8570

To visit the Lasan Website, click here.

*We received a complimentary meal in exchange for a honest review.

 

Itihaas Brasserie at Selfridges, Birmingham

Itihaas Brasserie opened in 2012 within the Birmingham Selfridges Food Hall. It was a new concept offering Itihaas’s original renowned Indian cuisine (their main Birmingham restaurant has won the best restaurant award in the UK Cobra Good Curry Guide) and high standards, yet in a casual setting. The brasserie was an instant success, I ate there quite soon after the opening and loved the food and the buzzing atmosphere. Last weekend I decided it was high time for a revisit, and so I decided to lunch there whilst I was enjoying the Bullring’s Autumn Fashion Fix.

itihaas-selfridgesItihaas is located right in the heart of the ground floor of Selfridges Birminham. This area makes up most of Selfridges dining offering.  The luscious smells of Mumbai Street Food greet you as you wait to be seated, fabulous aromas that give just a taste of what is to come. I was seated very quickly and was very impressed with the friendliness of the staff as I chatted about the menu – I like the fact that food can be tailored to your taste, so curries can be made as hot (or, in my case, as mild) as required.

DSCN9459The brasserie has a good menu, comprising delicious wraps, curries, and Mumbai street food. I noticed lots of the diners were enjoying Indian Kulfi Ice Shakes, with Mango proving to be very popular. I opted to try the Karahi Chicken Tikka Masala, which was accompanied by  steamed Basamati rice and Naan bread.

DSCN9461I was impressed with how quickly my food came on what was a very busy Saturday lunchtime. The curry was steaming hot and was very flavorsome – not too hot, but not bland either. The curry dish was filled to the top and contained lots of chicken tikka which was soft and tender, it simply ripped apart and had nothing in common with the tough pieces of tikka you can often get from takeaway curries. I loved the pieces of pepper and onion that added additional flavour to the dish.  The portion size was reasonable, and when combined with the rice and nan bread, it was a very filling dish.

DSCN9460The rice was also perfect. I love my rice to be soft and fluffy, and this was just that. The lightness of the flavour was the classic accompaniment to the curry, and with the pieces of nan bread perfect for mopping around the bowl, I can assure you there was nothing left of this meal.

Itihaas is a great lunchtime destination for fine food, there are literally so many dishes on the menu you will want to try. I am hoping to return soon to try the wraps and the Bombay Chilli Chips, which come highly recommended.

To find out more information about Itihaas, click here.

*I was given a voucher for a meal at Itihaas at the Bullring Blogger event, all opinions are my own.

For a tasty treat try ‘Just Eat’

 

As a busy mom, trying to juggle work, home and family, I have to admit that sometimes the very last thing I want to do at the end of a day is cook. And on those occasions, the easiest, and, let’s be honest, the tastiest option is to opt for a take-away of some variety. With all this in mind, the opportunity to trial the service provided by Just Eat was just too good to be true.

Just Eat is an online takeaway order service. You set up an account very simply with just a few details, and then using your postcode, you can access all the takeaways in your area. You then place your order from the online menu, paying using a credit or debit card, and the takeaway is then delivered to your door.  Simples!

I used this service on Saturday night and have to say I am a total convert. For a start, the choice I found of takeaways that served my area really surprised me. As well as the usual Chinese and Indian restaurants, there was also the choice of Iranian, American and Thai. My favourite Chinese takeaway, Hao Eat, was also on the list so we opted to order from there, but if you do want to choose something new and different, you can read lots of reviews of the food and service before making your choice. You also get an approximate delivery time.

Making an order is really easy as the whole menu is online, organised in the same way as a printed menu would be, which saves you having to hunt around for the paper version.  A running total shows how much you are spending, again useful if you have a set budget. You only wait an approximate 90seconds for confirmation, and then you simply need to wait for your food to be delivered.

Mr Mozzarella, the leader of the Just Eat chefs

Everything about this service was good. Food was delivered promptly, the order was correct, and the food was piping hot and delicious. I loved the confirmation email that thanked me for not cooking, and the fact that I wasn’t standing on the doorstep for ages as money changed hands. Just Eat is a great idea, and one which I will definitely be using again.